Steve Cram at Clydesdale Bank

Thank you to the team at Clydesdale Bank Brighton this morning for inviting me to another excellent teleconference, this time with Steve Cram as speaker.  As ever they had assembled some really interesting people around the table, not least Bradley who is studying Sports Psychology at Bournmouth University.

Finding lateral inspiration as an occasional runner myself, it was good to hear Steve draw parallels between aspects of sport and business.  My take on some of the insights that he mentioned:

  • Kelly Holmes won Gold at 800m in 2004 on the very last stride, coming up from 5th with about 200m to go, whilst John Treacy pipped Steve Ovett to the post in the last 2m of a 5000m race in 1980 because the latter was celebrating winning in advance of the line!  As the pressure builds towards the finish line, or a business deadline, we have a tendency to lose energy and focus… at the very moment when it might assure us of success.  Practice resilience in every aspect of your life and don’t stop pushing until you hear the fat lady singing.
  • Some people, be they sports coaches or business partners, have the ability to sap our confidence or energy at the moment we most need it, despite being a vital member of the team in other ways.  Whether you are getting ready to race or warming up ahead of a business presentation, make certain that the people around you are those who inspire you to a great performance.
  • Simple mistakes can throw us off our stride and cause us to change a perfectly good strategy.  Accept that mistakes do happen so that, though you might be surprised, you don’t need to feel surprised that you’re surprised.  See the mistake in isolation and get back with the plan… it will only affect the rest of your performance if you worry that it will.
Many of my occasional comments at Management Today touch on the value of developing a culture within teams which appropriately supports the business strategy, so it was interesting to hear Steve talk about the culture of adaptability that athletes need to nurture.
As in business there are so many variables that there is a need to be comfortable with ambiguity… something that entrepreneurs tend to have in spades to the eternal discomfort of their employees.
This comfort with ambiguity, allied to the confidence that intense preparation gives, allows us to be sufficiently unpredictable to be able to outwit even the competitors that we spar with regularly.

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