It’s time to re-define success

For as long as you can all remember, you’ve been showered with all manner of advice about the importance of focusing on success and believing in the power of positive thinking for a healthy mindset.

Given our current circumstances, the myopic view of the world this approach presents to us is going to be found severely wanting. 20 years of working in elite sport and across a large number of commercial sectors has shown me the folly of only having one outlook when it comes to defining your ability and value.

In the very challenging set of current circumstances around you, I’m inviting you to break away from the myopia of single definitions of success and move into what is going to be a more healthy mindset for the weeks and months to come.

Shift your mindset

During my time working in elite sport, I noticed the importance of shifting mental performance for athletes to match different phases of the training programmes designed by their coaches.

  • Very infrequently, when peaking for competitions, the athletes needed to know how to make the most of a period of opportunity, energy and fine tuning – a time to thrive.
  • A lot of the time, they were in periods of Consolidating, where it was important to recognise their strong foundations and ensure upgraded versions of everything were being embedded into their performance DNA.
  • Finally, there were periods of training designed to over-stress all systems so that everything was given a stimulus to grow back stronger. In these periods, their challenge is to be world class at Surviving; managing the training load with sufficient control that it creates a stimulus for growth, but doesn’t totally overwhelm them.

These three periods of training require the ability to define success very differently for each one, and the failure to make the shift effectively typically results in unnecessary stress, poor recovery and suppression of overall potential for when it really matters.

The surviving component is most relevant right now

It requires a realisation that unless we shift our desire for one specific kind of success and adopt a healthy mindeset, we’re going to spend the rest of the year feeling like we’ve failed.

When it comes to the benefits of a High Performance Surviving Mindset, here’s what you’re going to find very useful personally and collectively. It gives you a different lens through which to view the current challenge and improve your mental performance:

  • When it comes to surviving, you shift into a mindset where your primary focus is to be delighted at not failing. Every day that you take on the challenge and don’t go backwards, or compromise future potential, is a resounding success. Gone are the days of feeling the need for momentum and progress. You approach every day with an equanimity that allows you to be ready to soak up whatever you face, with a focus of trust that you have the will and the skill to cope and a desire to see what you learn about yourself.
  • You have a clear agenda of self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviours to avoid, because you know indulging in these is personally and/or professionally not acceptable. You celebrate getting through a day where you’ve noticed your self-sabotagers early and avoided them, or they’ve not had to be responded to. Because you’ve clearly defined Unacceptable Failure you harness the powers of ‘away-from’ motivation, where your drive is focused on making sure you avoid own-goals and unnecessarily hampering your efforts.
  • You know fatigue is par for the course and you’re likely to feel close to being overwhelmed and on the edge of coping. Because of this, there is always a starting point of ‘self-care first’; you know that every day is going to require additional focus on rest, recovery, good nutrition and hydration, and a commitment to strong mental health habits. You know the stressors you will be facing are high and constant, which will result in ill-health and burnout if you don’t seek to respond to the toll they take with the highest level of proactivity.
  • You know that as a result of the period of Survival, you will become stronger in the future. However, you know you won’t really appreciate the benefits of the challenge until a long time in the future. Therefore, you stay focused on delayed gratification and knowing the full value will only be appreciated when you’re well beyond the period. Although the future is compelling, you know you have to commit to being in the present and coping as effectively as possible, one day at a time.

So what for you?

Well, here’s what we’re going to be focusing on, so feel free to talk to us about this (in the knowledge that not doing these things will mean you’re choosing to fail in a way that’s not so helpful):

  • Collectively ripping up all of the goals that were set for the year when we thought we had a clear run at success for 2020.
  • Moving into a one day at a time healthy mindset that is powered by a curiosity to find out how well we can work and recover each day, and what that starts adding up to in terms of results. We’re going to find out what the numbers can look like in unprecedented times rather than giving ourselves the nonsensical challenge of guessing what some relevant target might be to compare ourselves against.
  • Define Unacceptable Failure right now, so that we’re really clear about the self-sabotaging behaviours and attitudes that we will collectively avoid at all costs so we won’t be responsible for compromising our short and medium term personal and collective health.
  • We’ll build from rest, recovery and self-care upwards. Personal collective health and energy are our most precious resource right now, so we stay focused on that and we have a clear measure of success to aim for – “getting everyone through this healthy and as happy as we can”
  • We’ll regularly share what we’re learning along the way, so that we don’t have to wait until the end of this to try to remember all the learning.
  • We’ll get ready to have a “not failed”/”World Class Survival” celebration at the point at which we think we’ve entered the next phase of performance. We’re anticipating this will be a Consolidating phase, but are open to Thriving!

So, join us and share your learning about how this shift in thinking is helping you approach the current challenges in a way that helps you feel less out of control, more confident and much more connected as people. If ever performance and business needed to be a force for good, it’s now.