The Australian Olympic Team were sitting 4th in the Medal Standings after day 6 and sports mad Aussies couldn’t get enough of the first week of the 2016 Olympics. Australia has always been strong in swimming and the country’s best chances of winning medals have traditionally been in the pool. (We have to admit here in Aus (not surprisingly), that it’s always nice for an Australian team to be ahead of a GB team!)
It’s all about the process!
While the Media and sports loving population in Australia have been enjoying this early medal success, John Bertrand, America’s Cup Skipper and Australian sailing Icon, now Chairman and President of Swimming Australia, is less forthcoming in making medal predictions;
“In the lead-up to Rio, we haven’t talked about medal counts. We purely talk about peak performance. Globally, 80 per cent of swimmers achieve their peak performance at their Olympic selection trials. Only 20 per cent have hit their peak at the Olympics, when it really counts.
“How do we change that 20 per cent to 40 per cent and so on? How do we de-pressurise the situation so they can have their peak performance? It is about process, process, process. You have to enjoy the process, the environment of the team and there has to be that sense of trust and happiness.”
That’s a great message – trust and happiness from commitment to a process, and we know the origins of that kind of thinking.
Matching an obsession with performance, with an obsession with results
As has been said many times before, Olympic athletes spend most of their time training and very little time competing, so each day they must think about what they need to do to get better. Contrast this with the world of work where it feels like a competition every day and everyone’s focused on ‘to-do lists’ much more than ‘to improve lists’.
When you train more than you compete you have to choose where to focus your effort, and that’s where the power of the “process” focus referred to by John Bertrand, comes into play. A choice to be as prepared as possible, as performance ready as possible, by priming all the sources of readiness we so often talk about.
The athletes also understand the required dual focus and obsession on readiness to perform as well as on results (PB’s, finals & medals) – after all, they’re hugely competitive people, driven to win. This competitive fire is combined with desire to prepare better than everyone else, which opens up a more powerful approach than simply obsessing on the final result.
When 18 year old Aussie swimmer Kyle Chalmers was interviewed after his second place in the Semi Final of the 100 metre freestyle, he simply said that his focus was to practice the first 50 metres so that he could improve for the final. He didn’t get drawn into result prediction. As we know he won gold in the final.
How are you performing?
The Olympics gives us a great opportunity to connect back to our most important ideas and see that when it matters most, a ‘performance’ focus is a great source of trust.
Are you following the lead of the Olympians? Have you checked in with both the results you’re passionate about achieving combined with a huge commitment to following the process you know gives you the best chance of getting there?
Have you recently taken stock of your full performance recipe and made sure that it’s fit for purpose to provide you with the readiness you need to keep progressing with confidence?
Have you checked how you’re measuring performance recently to ensure you’re using the goals and data available to you to fuel your drive and confidence?
The evidence of elite athletes describing their performance approach in the most important moments of their career is compelling and as always is a great reminder to follow their lead and see how well we can all translate the simple messages of high performance sport into an often more complex world that we all compete in.