We had the pleasure this week of spending the day with Rebecca Adlington delivering a session reflecting on the Olympic Games. With four Olympic medals to her name at only age 23, there’s clearly something she’s doing right. Performance insights came thick and fast through the day, but there was one overwhelming message that really struck a chord with those there – if you want results, then get passionate about the process. Rebecca is passionate about swimming faster every time she got in the pool. The passion doesn’t equate to a fixation on times, or on medals, but meticulous attention to getting the performance fundamentals right – in every training session, before every race, and even during the race. Her focus is so solely on executing the task – nailing her turns, getting her breathing right, pushing herself physically to capacity – that what the opposition are doing doesn’t enter into her consciousness. Asked how much she looks at her competitors, and what they’re doing in training and competition, and her response was that she gave them (and I quote) “zero” attention. Zero. Nada. She focuses on herself, exploits her strengths, and ensures that everything (physically, mentally, tactically, technically) is right – every day, in every training session and race – to ensure she delivers excellence every time she races. Asked about her motivation, and what drives her on, and it wasn’t medals or winning (although admittedly medals are nice). What gets her up at 5am every morning is seeing how good she can be that day.
So, are you focusing on yourself, and how you can best exploit your strengths? Or are you spending your time looking over your shoulder at the opposition? Because if you have the right performance ingredients in place – highly motivated people, focusing on the right things, doing the performance basics superbly well every day – what the opposition does doesn’t matter. Become passionate about the process and watch the opposition trail in behind you.