The air of the nation, the sense of pride and community, have returned with abundance and smiles are more readily available in our daily lives. While there have been many individual and team performances that have left me in awe, the overwhelming message I was left with, the thing that inspired me the most was the self-belief and determination from everyone involved – Olympic Thinking.
Olympic Thinking applied on so many levels to everyone involved; from the team who put the bid together (despite, we are told, much advice against it), to the Games Makers – the volunteers who gave so freely of their time and their enthusiasm and, of course, to the athletes.
Helen Glover started rowing in 2008 and at London 2012 – with rowing partner Heather Stanning won the Women’s Pairs – becoming the first British female rowers to win an Olympic title. In four years of focus, self-belief and determination, Helen went from no experience to the best in the world.
“Pressure is a privilege” – quoted originally, I believe, by Billie Jean King. Re-quoted by several of the athletes during the games. So many of us assumed the pressure would break them, would be too much for young athletes to cope with. Accepting that being the best at something, striving always to be faster, stronger, more powerful, puts them in a position of privilege is part of their Olympic Thinking.
So how can we apply Olympic Thinking to our mentoring? How can we encourage our clients to see their challenge as the chance to be the best in the world at what they do? What is it about the way these exceptional achievers think that allows them to achieve beyond limits?
I believe that amongst the contributing factors, key must be:
1) Language – both spoken and thought. The positive affirmations, the constant reminders of the dream they are working towards and why, language that focuses and catalysis their efforts into results.
2) Habits – with total commitment. Humans are, by our very nature, habitual beings. We find great comfort in many of our daily rituals and actions. Much is spoken about how challenging it is to “give up” a habit – again the language used is setting us up to fail – but we forget how easy it can be when we replace it with a new one. Seeing our patters on behaviour simply as habits, that can be substituted with new, positive ones that move us forward, can allow change where it has previously been resisted and commitment to our goals is reconnected and reaffirmed.
3) Wellness – and putting that on the priority list. Obviously, the athletes are in amazing condition. I’m not suggesting we should be on their training and eating programmes. However, it is clear that their wellness is top of their agenda; they could not perform if they did not maintain real attention to looking after their greatest asset. As business owners, many of our clients – and indeed many of us as business owners ourselves – put this one far lower down the list. We tend to be re-active rather than pro-active and often, exercise and eating are only given a priority when we get a wake-up call. Surely, as business owners, we are our greatest assets too.
If you were to set a training programme for your clients in place, to take them from zero to hero in time for the 2016 games in Rio, what might they achieve with some Olympic Thinking? How many businesses could be “Going for Gold”?