What Makes World Class Athletes So Successful?

July 24th 2020 should have seen the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. But due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the games are being postponed for the first time in their history. 

However, according to the organisers, the 2021 Olympics will be “the most innovative ever organised” and will rest on three fundamental principles “striving for your personal best, accepting one another and passing on a legacy for the future.”

Some pretty impressive goals and beliefs – and not just for the sporting world. As accountants, we share some of the same adversities – exhaustingly long hours and a great deal of training! So, what can we learn from the athletes and sport teams of 2021? What drives their success? And how do they use the support of others to influence their own success? 

Whether you’re a candidate looking to further your individual performance or a manager looking to increase the productivity and spirit in your team….3,2,1, GO! 

Eleven times world champion and six times Olympic champion, Sir Chris Hoy, is one of the great Olympians of all time. Now a motivational speaker, he talks about his gold medal win in Athens.

“It was the biggest challenge of my life so far, not only physically but mentally too. Being able to focus in that situation wasn’t easy. I worked closely with Steve Peters, the British Cycling team’s psychologist, and we came up with a strategy of dealing with the pressure. It basically involved displacing the negative thoughts with visualisation. Not a complicated technique, but very effective if done properly. I just kept running through the race in my head over and over so that I wouldn’t let the distractions around me put me off.”

Visualisation in business is a powerful tool. If you can’t see it, it’s not going to happen. So, look beyond your current situation and past failures and picture yourself successful. Some use a ‘trigger’ such as focussing on an image. If your goal is a promotion or a new higher paying role so you can afford to take your dream holiday – make that destination an image you look at daily. Imagine yourself shaking the hand of your manager and booking those tickets.

Few understand more about overcoming adversity than Caitlyn Jenner – ‘the world’s greatest athlete’. As a decathlon super star, she knows a thing or two about overcoming hurdles – and not just the 100m variety. 

“Remember, success is not measured by heights attained but by obstacles overcome. We’re going to pass through many obstacles in our lives: good days, bad days. But the successful person will overcome those obstacles and constantly move forward.”

By having a positive mindset and observing the bad times as well as the good, we can make better informed future decisions. Successful people know the many benefits of reflection. It helps us to untangle experiences, explore lessons learnt and celebrate wins. By making a habit of reflective thinking you’ll increase energy, feel less depleted and perform better. Start by committing to 15 minutes each week, maybe on a peaceful Sunday morning? Use a journal to sit with your thoughts. Ask yourself what’s gone well this week and what hasn’t. 

And finally, Usain Bolt – what can we learn from this legendary Jamaican athlete? He’s the best sprinter the world has ever seen and has won world records in the 100m and 200m at three consecutive Olympics – the first person in history to do this. Bold and charismatic, he has a worldwide following and people love to watch him have fun and celebrate. 

“Worrying gets you nowhere. If you turn up worrying about how you’re going to perform, you’ve already lost. Train hard, turn up, run your best and the rest will take care of itself.”

Simple advice, but incredibly effective. We know that if we can overcome fear, stress and anxiety we can accomplish so much. But it’s not as easy as telling yourself to stop. Every athlete will experience some fear or anxiety at some point – even the great Usain Bolt. And that’s why coaching and psychology is a key part of every athlete’s career. And yet in business, some consider it a weakness or a failure. Having a great mentor, coach or supportive manager will benefit you in so many ways. Many employers will happily pay for courses and training, why not consider asking your manager to support you with coaching?

We’re not experts in psychology, but we can help your land your dream job or ideal candidate. 

Drop us an email today or call our MD Garry on 03335 777 787 to chat through your specific requirements.

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