I’m just back from an interesting conference where I listened to one of Team GB’s top performance directors, Nigel Laughton, speaking about his work with elite athletes. He was recently appointed to the post of CEO, Pentathlon GB, where he will oversee the association in the run-up to the Olympics in Rio in 2016 and beyond.
I took particular interest in his current work with Olympic athletes. The individuals involved in skeleton and modern pentathlon sacrifice everything for their dream. They are unpaid and penniless; there are no impressive football salaries for these stars. They spend day after day punishing themselves in the gym for the dream of an Olympic medal that at best is years away. Their diets are punishingly strict; they miss out on family events, friendships outside of the team, lie-ins and all the normal things that most of us take for granted. Why? Because they have a dream and they will do anything to make that dream a reality.
We all need to have a reason ‘why’ we get up and run our businesses or make our sales calls. We need a purpose to drive us; for some it’s helping others and bringing good into the world; for others it’s about children and family goals; for some it’s about a passion for their subject and being the best at what they do. Whatever it is for you, you need to find it and focus on it, so that on the dark days when you feel like quitting, you push through to the other side. In business, we will encounter mountains blocking our paths; we need to find an inner strength so we can climb them and enjoy the view from the summit.
During Laughton’s talk he played a video featuring 26 year old Lizzy Yarnold, British Skeleton athlete and gold winner in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. In the film Yarnold tells us “I’ve got to be the best version of me that I can be.” And she was talking about every single day she performs – be it in training or during competitions.
We can all learn a lesson from the young athlete. She is striving to perform at her absolute best and outperform the competition. We must take her words and her gutsy attitude and apply them to our businesses, our approach to sales and into our personal performance. It starts with demanding the very best from ourselves; only accepting daily personal bests in everything we do.
This attitude then filters through our teams, our businesses, our children and our communities. It creates a habit of winning and a momentum that makes special things happen. We can all be Olympians in our own right, if we have a dream and the right attitude to do the behaviours to make that dream come true.