What can we learn from Olympic performers?

Discobolus of MyronI was at the gym the other day running on a treadmill while watching the women’s marathon. Normally I run at a modest 10 kph pace which keeps up my fitness without killing me. But on this occasion I noticed I was running faster and needed to increase the treadmill speed. The strange thing was not feeling as if I was working harder than normal and that made me wonder why.

As I was cooling off, I realized that I had been following along in the foot steps of the marathon runners without consciously knowing that I was doing anything different or working harder. So simply by watching others perform my own performance improved.

Does this apply in the business world?

Absolutely. Finding and following in the footsteps of people we admire can have a very positive impact on our performance. We’ve all worked with colleagues who can show us how to better handle difficult people or go about a challenging project. So surround yourself with Olympic quality colleagues and watch your skills and abilities improve.

[Editor’s note: Peter seems to be suggesting he was running at the same pace as the women marathon runners and frankly he is deluding himself. The winner’s average pace was 17.58kph over 2 hours and 24 minutes. Somewhat faster than Peter has ever run in his life.]

Even World Champions need coaching!

I was talking to one of my clients (an ex-international sportsperson) recently and at one stage during our session she said “even world champions need coaches“. I was struck by how simple and yet profound this statement is. If you look at the field of sports I can’t think of a world champion or professional sportsperson or team that doesn’t have a coach – Usain Bolt, Rory McIlroy and Novac Djokavic all have coaches despite being superb world class professionals.

Why do elite sports people have coaches? Because they understand that their careers have been built on continuous learning and development. They never stop trying to find that extra fraction of a second or making that great decision in the moment. That is what makes them world class in the first place. When starting out young sports men and women are coached on the basics of their sport – focusing on the how to play. That coaching becomes increasingly more sophisticated as they improve moving from skill and techniques to strategy, mental preparation, coping with failure and dealing with success.

Most business owners are similar to elite sportspersons – they are totally committed to their business, they strive to be the best they can and they make sacrifices in their personal lives. I know for sure that when I was running my own business for 11 years, I was all these things and more. Yet I know I wasn’t a world class business owner and regret not having a coach during those years.

When is the right time for you to get your coach and become your own world champion?