Friday, 12 August 2016

9 Lessons on Winning From the Olympians in Rio

There are no 'lead-in's' to this blog post. I am going to dive straight in.

You are either serious about winning in your sport, business or life or you aren't. This blog is for those who want to get better results and perform their best in business, work, life or sport.

Learn from the Olympian's at Rio 
Olympians, olympics, team GB, Rio 2016, winning,

We are only 8 days or so into the Olympics in Rio and already I am hearing the same words and phrases being repeated from the medal winners.

Now I prefer the track and field, but as a performance and breakthrough coach I like to listen to what the athletes say after they win (Or lose). You can learn from sport about life and business too.

Here are the 9 words and phrases I am constantly hearing from the winners and from the pundits who are commentating, who are also former olympic champions.

Mental Strength

This comes up a lot. You'll hear the commentators saying things like, "Has she got the mental strength to dig in when it matters?" You see all winners have that mental strength. When those 10 athletes are about to dive into the pool, the difference in ability is slight. What gives them the edge is that mental strength to push to the line in the last 25 meters when the body is exhausted.

Just ask Michael Phelps.

So let me ask you: Are you working on your mental strength? Do you know it will stand you in good stead when it comes to your sport, business or life? It could be the difference between winning or becoming an 'also ran'; from just doing 'Ok' to creating your legacy.

Or from going down in history. Yes, why not you?

Hard Work

Every single winner that is interviewed will mention how this medal compensates for the sheer hard work they have put in. Winners don't just rely on natural talent, skill or ability. They understand that hard work plays a crucial role in their success.

Steven Scott, who won bronze in the shooting double trap event for Team GB said afterwards, "For 14 years I worked my butt off to get this"

How hard have you been working on what you want to win at? Have you been working hard for the last 4 years on your project, job or business? Or do you come home and slouch in front of the TV or computer?

Hard work pays off. Everyone is working hard. Why not work harder? In your job, be first in and last out. Work harder than anyone else is. Put in the hours now so you don't have to later. It sets winners apart.


Here's another one you'll hear often. They are taking the last dive. They know they need to do their best dive to win the gold. The pressure is on. They execute the dive to their best under that pressure and they win the gold.

The pressure was huge for the team GB diving pair Jack Laugher and Chris Mears who were going for the only medal in the history of the sport for their country (See below also)

There is a certain amount of pressure in what you do too. All studies show that people do not perform their best when under pressure; they are more prone to making mistakes. So you will have pressure at times in what you do too.

If you got to the Tiddlywinks final there would be pressure. Accept it. But learn best how to work with it and reduce it.

My question is, are you taking steps to manage that pressure? How are you going to ensure you make less mistakes when you are put under pressure?


Another common obstacle that all olympians and winners meet along the way to success. There are some athletes who are forced to deal with injury in the build up to the games. But they overcome it. Setbacks are inevitable in anything you want to to achieve. And don't let anyone tell you any different.

It's how you deal with any setback that matters.

Success is not always plain sailing

Katherine Grainger, now the most decorated GB female athlete, had to overcome huge obstacles in her quest to win at Rio. Only 84 days before the games, everyone else had given up on her competing, let alone winning a medal.

Are you working on your resilience? How do you bounce back? Or do you crumble and give up and then fail to give it your best shot when you do finally get back up?


All winners know that to achieve their big goals they are going to have sacrifice something in order to get the prize. They sacrifice time with loved ones, going out to pubs, chasing Pokemon's and being online 4 hours today.

They make huge sacrifices. Is it worthwhile? Ask any winner whether in life, sport or business.

Are you willing to pay the price for what you want? If you aren't, then the brutal truth is, go do something else and stop wasting your time.

Trials and Tribulations

I am not hearing this as often, but it is still there in the lives of some of the greats. Winners are not gods are deities; they are human beings just like you and me. They are not immune from life throwing tragedy at them. The two divers from team GB Jack Laugher and Chris Mears recently won the first (and ONLY medal) gold medal for Great Britain in 108 years.

5 years ago Chris Mears had a 5% chance of survival after becoming ill. It didn't deter him.

So yes, you may have a past too. Who doesn't? Stop focusing on your past story and focus on your present and future. If you were to tell me your past story, I would more than likely say to you, 'So what?' Move on. The past does not determine what future you can build for yourself...unless you choose to let it.

Where is your main focus?


"They are just full of so much personal belief" I keep hearing this one over, and over, and over again. I blog about it a lot too. Why? because without belief nothing is possible. You have to believe. You have to believe that you are capable of achieving your goal. In your abilities.

It is that belief that will help you create your legacy. It will help you set goals that others daren't set. It will help you keep raising your bar on your own performance.

In Rio, two of the cyclists who won the road races (One male, one female) were 40 and 41 years old. Their chances of winning were slim due to their 'age'. A few years ago this would not have been deemed 'possible'. But they are full of personal belief.

That belief helped them break through conventional 'wisdom' and achieve greatness. It helps them break trends and set new records.

How much do you believe in what you are doing? What about your products, services or the company you work for? How much do you believe there? Are the odds against you? Your belief will get you through those odds.


Self confidence is again something you can work on and build. It helps you act on your beliefs and take calculated risks. It helps you feel good, calms you down when under pressure.

Here is a quote from Olympic silver medalist Siobhan-Marie O'Connor (Team GB)

"I was really confident coming into it because sometimes I can have disruptions. I felt in a really good place," 

Is your self-confidence where you want it to be for what you want to achieve?

Performed Their Best

Another common one. All the olympians want to perform their best at the games. They want to set a PB. And that's all you can do and no more, is your ultimate best.

However, when you apply the other things that I am writing here, what you think is your best suddenly isn't. You start improving. You start getting results beyond your wildest dreams.

Are you constantly seeking new or tried and tested ways to improve? If not, what's stopping you?

A of people I coach greatly under-estimate their personal ability or what is possible. They are often shocked when they perform way beyond what they thought was their best.

You'll see this with athletes. The goal is always to try and beat their personal best (PB). It is the same with successful entrepreneurs, CEO's, leaders and winners in life. Constantly learning and seeking new, innovative or tried and trusted methods to better their best.

Are you seeking to improve? Are you looking at ways to improve your best performance and raising your own bar? Or have you become complacent and resigned yourself to averageness?

It pays huge dividends to always be seeking out new ways to improve your best performance. And this does not mean on one day. Be consistent with your efforts. Keep pushing.

As I say to my clients it's not whether you win or lose that matters. What is more important is that you are able to look in that mirror and answer honestly to yourself (and you alone) the one critical question: Did I give it my best shot?

If you can't do that, then go do something mundane.

Reality Check: You either have results or you have a 'story' that justifies your lack of results

And finally...

All of these traits and mental abilities are all underpinned by a massive, compelling goal. It is that goal that is the driving force. That goal will be one of the cornerstones that will make you determined, willing to sacrifice, overcome your adversity and setbacks, keep you believing and perform your best.

Are you ready to win at business, in work, your sport or at something in life?

It really is simple: You have results or you have a story as to why you don't have the results you say you want. So what are you doing to ensure you perform at your best and get the results you do want?

You are capable of more than you think you are. You can do it. Be an olympian in what you do. Give it your best shot. And for goodness sake, seek help on your journey to improve, you really will surprise yourself with what you can achieve.

And one last thing. Don't believe anything is possible? Why not Google the amazing 4' 8" amazing gymnast Simone Biles. She possesses all of the above and more.