14 June 2010

Have you ever wondered whether or not you could have made it as a professional sports person? I remember hearing Sean Connery talk and explain he turned down a place playing for Manchester United to carry on acting and although it wasn’t for the salaries they have these days, it was a brave move as acting is a hit and miss profession. There is little doubt in my mind that attitude determines your outcome. I am even more convinced after a night at the Veledrome in Manchester with 40 of Manchester’s top entrepreneurs and 2 Olympic cyclists, Rebecca Romero and Sarah Storey that it is all down to attitude.

The event I was kindly invited along to started with a training session racing around the Velodrome. I was fortunate to get some one to one training with one of the Olympic team. I was keen to pay attention as I quickly learned that a break in concentration could prove disastrous. The bikes have no breaks and if you stopped peddling for any reason you were in danger of being catapulted across the track; which was incredibly steep on the corners.

Being in a room with the North West’s finest entrepreneurs is an interesting place. There is a huge amount of testosterone pumping around everyones veins and the bravado was evident amongst the friendly competitors. But once on the track, it was head down and down to business. It was clear why these business people at the top of their game. They all take competing very seriously in whatever they do.

It is also immediately evident that there is little or no difference between the winning attitude of the highly motivated business people and the Olympians and although we all got beaten, roll back the clock a few years and give us some proper training and I reckon there’d have been a few contenders in the room. My attitude was such that I thought OK, I am going to give these guys a run for their money. I was absolutely convinced that I could win. Of course I got battered, but at least my attitude shone through and it made me compete to my highest possible standard.

After a lovely dinner where we ate the food the cyclists eat on a daily basis, we were treated to what in my opinion was the best part of the night. Rebecca Romero and Sarah Storey sat down and were interviewed. They talked of the Olympic challenges and the drive that got them to the highest point in their sport. Rebecca is an interesting phenomena as she has achieved one of the rarities of Gold medals in different disciplines. She started in rowing and then transferred to cycling. With in 6 months she was hitting the speeds expected from the Olympic cyclists.

Sarah a para olympian has won medals in every games since 1992. She talked openly about her challenges. Having only one hand there were people throughout her life that treated her differently. What was lovely top see is just how that motivated her and drove her even harder. She explained how she was inspired at the age of 6 years old watching the Olympics on a tiny TV and saying, that that is what she wanted to do.

Goal setting! You can’t beat it, or her in this case.

During the questions and answers it was interesting to hear their reactions and opinions.

When asked;

Silver medal, winner or loser? Both firmly stated without even a second to think… ‘Loser!”

What do you think of skiing and snowboarding that are adapting some of  their races and styles to introduce bigger sponsorship?

Again both passionately said, “what is more exciting than 2 people competing head to head? The sport does not need to reinvent itself and we do not want any more money. We simply just want to compete.”

It was blindingly obvious that the attitude that these 2 Olympians have is identical to that of the entrepreneurs in the audience. The belief that you require to get to the top of your game is identical whatever you want to achieve. Although the goals maybe very different, the hard work that is involved in reaching the top of any industry requires stamina and determination. When the vast majority give up, there a few people who kick into another level. These are the natural born winners, although actually I don’t think they are born, more socially conditioned. Something in each of these successful business people and athletes lives inspired them to want to go to these extraordinary lengths.

So what are you going to be if you never grow up? That’s the million dollar question…. quite literally! Choose, take aim and go get it. And don’t stop no matter who tells you you cant do it. Normally if someone tells you something cant be done, it is usually from talking from experience, their own experience. Do not let other people’s limiting beliefs limit your own.

And most of all, no silver medals. Aim high and win.

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