The other day I was at a meeting which was addressed by Sir Steve Redgrave, the famous Olympian. In fact, he is the most successful British Olympian ever, having won gold in five consecutive Olympics (not to mention numerous world championships & sundry other medals!).
His journey rewards study as it can teach us quite a lot about achieving our goals and the power of setting challenging ones.
He took up rowing at school and discovered early that enthusiasm and strength can take you only so far. However, as initially they lead him to winning ways he had to suffer a few set backs before discovering that, on their own, they are not enough. His initial experience of victory did help to formulate the dream of becoming a world champion oarsman, even though that was then a huge step away.
His journey is neatly summed up in our Change model.
He started out with a compelling desire to succeed, early experiences taught him to believe this was possible, he was willing to do the work necessary to succeed, he got the resources and knowledge he need to achieve his goal, acted on this and then having succeeded, and set his next goal .....another gold medal!
One of the things that he made much of was the fact that his coach was able to work out the likely time of the winning boat in 4 years time. He then calculated the improvement required on Redgrave’s current performance to beat that time. It was roughly a 4 second improvement over 4 years. It rowing terms this is a huge challenge. However, they then broke this down: that was a second a year, and as they trained 49 weeks in the year, that 49 / 1 th of a second each week, which didn’t seem too overwhelming. They are not the first or only people to use this technique, but it speaks volumes for its power. Are you breaking down your big, seemingly unachievable dreams into bitesized believable chunks?
He also had a great support system because he enrolled others in his dream, not just his fellow oarsmen, but his family, who supported him throughout the inevitable ups and downs. The converse of this is, if what you are doing at work undermines the relationships that underpin your life then you need to pause and reflect, why you are doing this? What is really important to you. Do you wish to win at any price?
His huge achievements were based on turning up each and every day and doing what was required. Sure there were days when they hid (quite literally, by hanging on to the branch of an overhanging tree, that allowed them to rest behind a small island on the Thames) but more often than not they worked on their goal every day. Are you?
Any big project is made up of a lot little victories, days when you feel good & positive and ones when it all just seems impossible. Setbacks are inevitable, but if you want to be a winner, you have to get back in the game, learn from your mistakes, adjust your plan if necessary & keep on going….
..the result of Richard's intervention moved the team forward by at least 6 to 8 weeks - SmithKline Beecham, Director and VP of Enterprise Integration
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What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him. - Victor Frankl