How to channel childhood heroes to inspire goals that deliver

Reading time: 5 minutes

Our blog star this week is AXA Senior HR business partner Ben Andrews, a previous customer of ours who is on his quest to emulate a boyhood hero and discover something about himself along the way!

Ben’s hero was Rocky Balboa; the grit, determination, dedication, pain and triumph…fist thrust defiantly in the air, theme tune ringing in his ears, young Ben was inspired.

How do we stretch ourselves to get from childhood hero to real life hero?

It starts with the why…

If you’re going to set a stretching goal, it helps to be really clear and connect with why you’re stretching yourself. Why do it? Why will you be bothered?

A stretch goal means doing something that’s outside of our usual, comfortable frame of reference or abilities. Ben’s previous life goals were focused on achieving within activities he already liked doing – his comfort zone. Just like we all do! So his stretch goal needed to take him further, he needed to change it up significantly.

For Ben, this all started because he wanted to make the most of his existing drive to keep fit, develop himself further, to learn about human performance and be the best version of himself. With this foundation, the additional why came from wanting to fundraise and do good, to a whole new level.

Focus the mind and create some drive

With the British Heart Foundation identified as the place to benefit from his efforts, Ben’s next task was to find the right challenge to stretch him, to take him out of his comfort zone.

Inspired by boyhood hero, Rocky Balboa, Ben decided to enter a charity boxing match, scheduled for February 18th.

This was it; this changed the stakes and focused the mind. Boxing instantly provided a huge incentive to get in shape and learn quickly. When there’s someone else trying to punch you in the face, it’s a good idea to do everything possible to be prepared for what’s in store…

Something in it for everyone

There are some great mental benefits in doing something that results in growth, learning and giving to others*. The stretch goal that Ben set himself delivers huge value for him, as well as for those he’s ultimately looking to help.

Ben’s commitment to his diet regime during a well-earned holiday over Christmas, shows the power of the stretch goal on changing his behaviours, at a time when the best of us can let our discipline slide and we don’t always make the right choices.

In order to hit his weight target for the bout, Ben was balancing his meals mindfully, a tough ask at a time when most of us are quite out of balance nutritionally. Also, fitting in press-ups and squats by the pool on holiday, helped Ben maintain his fitness base line and keep his goals at the front of mind.

To harness his inner Rocky and embrace the aggression he needs to build for the fight, Ben is experimenting with two things; looking at the whole event as a performance much like an actor would, and with that in mind creating an aggressive Rocky alter ego; having recently received a bloodied nose in sparring, Ben knows this fighting mind-set is something he needs to up his game on.

All of this preparation, mental and physical, creates a great foundation for Ben to develop his inner Spartan over the time he has to reach his goal!

You reap what you sow

Having created his foundation of learning, growing and doing, it’s clear to see that several motivational forces are necessary to combine effectively to keep Ben on track at being ready to respond to the stretch goal he chose.

So far, Ben’s motivation has stayed strong and it is helping him prepare productively. Now he needs to work on making sure he’s Ben ‘floats like a butterfly’ and not Ben ‘falls like a tree’. When that’s all done, Ben will be ready to make the most of everything he’s learned from choosing and preparing for this particularly challenging stretch!

Think back to your childhood, who was your hero? Can they inspire you to stretch yourself and do something amazing, like Ben is?

It’s also ok to admit you’ve been dying to sing Eye of the Tiger…

If you want to support Ben and his fundraising efforts, you can do so here