By Andy Mouncey
I caught one of the post-Beijing ‘This is how we dun it’ gigs towards the back end of last 2008 — in this case British Cycling as told by Dan Hunt, coach of women’s endurance squad — who all did rather well, as you may recall.
As is usual at this level there are a number of givens:
‘Focus on the processes… be prepared to fail…target and reflect on performance not medals…’
And then there are the nuggets:
On the team ethos:
• ‘Medal or nothing
• Aggregation of marginal gains
• Compassionately ruthless
• Strong multi-tiered leadership
• Relentless pursuit of excellence’
The translation of this last one at the individual level - being in it for the long haul — or Long Term Athlete Development as we call it in the trade.
‘I have patience — I will become what I know I am.’
A Privileged Glimpse
One of the privileges for me about these events is that they provide a very personal glimpse of some aspects of a world that would ordinarily pass most of us by.
One of the things Dan showed was the two video montages they had put together for the squads pre — ‘Get ready for the show of your life!’ - and post Olympic Games — ‘You guys rocked!’
Real tingly stuff.
The soundtrack they used for the post-Games one? Margaret Thatcher’s victory address to the War Cabinet on the return of the Falklands Task Force in 1982.
How did they come to use that?
One of the coaches was reading a book about it at the time — and, boy, did it work!
Which just serves as a reminder that inspiration is indeed all around us: Sometimes we just gotta change the mix some…
A Question Of Currency
So nuggets certainly — and THEN there are the questions we are left with…
Dan talked about how at this level ‘the basics are a given.’ Athletes are expected to eat right, sleep well, be on time, have clean kit, etc. Which is fine, except that there are other people involved apart from Sir Chris Hoy & Co.
The coaching staff, for example.
To his credit, Dan was upfront: He’d hardly seen family and friends for the 18 months in the lead up to the games, his own exercise routine had gone to hell, he was existing on crap food and less sleep much of the time, he felt unhealthy and he’d put on weight.
And he’d been right in the middle of the most dominating and scintillating performances of any British team in any Olympic Games.
So What Price Gold? Maybe that just depends on the currency we use…
Andy is a coach & trainer of goal-setting skills and goal-achieving strategies for people who work or compete in a complex, challenging, high stakes environment.
He does this by helping his clients design goals with a level of detail, clarity and balance which is right for them, and have an emotional impact which will move them to take action and keep them on track them during setbacks.
This means that they enjoy taking full ownership of their challenge, raise their level of personal effectiveness and of those around them, are more likely to succeed faster, to understand why they did so - and be willing and skilled enough to repeat the process. www.doingbigandscary.com
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