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  • Writer's pictureSasha Young

How To Be Great - Olympic inspiration

I have been mugging up ahead of a webinar on holistic stress management that I’m co-hosting tomorrow. And I was planning to write a bit for you about Neuro Linguistic Programming here as we’ll be touching on it. But I’ve been watching some of the Olympic heats and build up over the weekend, which has changed my mind. So you’ll just have to join the webinar or watch the recording to find out more about how useful NLP and lots more can be! You can register here.

Back to the Olympics... I’ll front up and admit that I quite often cry at The Games - the way the competitors give their all and more gets me every time. Mention Mo Farah's fall and win in Rio and there’s immediately a lump in my throat... that and Jessica Ennis-Hill's pre-retirement heptathlon gold in London, 2012.

Anyway, despite having an interest in rowing that extends for the most part to James Cracknell’s Instagram feed, I wanted to share the inspiration that is Helen Glover of the GB Women’s Pair.

Helen Glover, left, and Polly Swann, right, GBR Women's Pair

Helen is already a double Olympic gold medalist, having won at London and Rio. She retired after the Rio games and started a family. After four years out of the sport, however, Helen decided to try for a comeback.

She is in Tokyo now, off the back of an intense year of training, and 14 months after giving birth to twins. The BBC has a documentary that tells Helen’s story, which you can watch here:

Her interviews bring up some points that are very pertinent to my work as a life coach, and particularly for my clients with whom I am working on success mindset and motivation.

Re-defining success

Glover said “to be [at the Olympics] today I think is in some ways the biggest achievement of my career… Before it was all about performances and that result at the Olympics. But getting on the team represents something to my children, to show them what commitment and passion looks like. I wanted to try, I knew I might fail. So today feels like much more of a moment than it ever has done from my other two Olympic Games.”

Success has different meanings for us at different stages of our lives.

It’s important to be clear on what success means specifically for you, and to be prepared to redefine what success looks like as you/circumstances evolve. This allows you to plan most effectively for real gains. You minimise the chances of self-doubt that can arise when you get caught up in others’ expectations, your own “out-dated” expectations, or schema that really are not your own.

I am working with one younger client, who is planning for the early stages of her career. Income and lifestyle are key concerns for her. On the other hand an older client, recovering from burnout at work, is redefining success around how much he is able to live aligned with his values. He has been surprised to discover that money actually isn’t that important for him anymore. Showing up authentically is.

Thought errors and assumptions

On competing again after the Rio games, Glover said: “As soon as I had Logan, that in my head put to bed any future chance of coming back. But now I think 'why did I think that? Why was that my automatic assumption? Now I think ‘no, we need to be able to do that and for it not to be a full stop on your career’.”

We all make assumptions. All of the time. It’s a big part of how our brains make sense of the world - by relying on previous experiences to inform our expectations of what might happen next. It’s supremely helpful to be able to do so. Assumptions help humans survive.

But assumptions can also stop us from exploring what might be possible. How many of us, frustrated at work, have dreamt of setting out on our own but assumed “I can’t just quit my salaried job and start out on my own”? These are the kind of thought errors that I help my clients to move beyond, so that they can be happy and fulfilled, doing what they really want, even when they thought it was impossible.

Assumptions can also prevent us from really hearing another’s perspective or point of view, which can stymie our relationships. Who is guilty of assuming “I’m not going to bother discussing “Topic X” with my partner because I know exactly what they will say.”? When we explain to our partner why we may feel reluctant to bring up a topic that we think will be challenging, and ask for their understanding when we say what we would like to say, we give them the opportunity to be the amazing person with whom we fall in love everyday.

You may have a difficult colleague at work. Knowing that you have a meeting coming up with them, you wouldn’t be the first to assume that their shitty attitude is going to piss you off. But how open do you leave the chances of that meeting going well? Showing up well-prepared and with an open mind may not guarantee a positive outcome but it’s not going to prevent it.

For something greater than ourselves.

Helen Glover has said: “I love to think the next person to do this will just know it’s possible. That’s such a huge part of the journey for me. I don’t care if nobody does it, but I feel nobody should feel like they can’t.”

It is extraordinary to see the difference in achievement when a person is driven by a purpose beyond ambitions just for themselves. As a mother, I can relate to Helen’s comments also about wanting to show her children what commitment and passion look like.

When we are motivated towards goals that incorporate action in service of something greater than ourselves, we are driven by our most deeply held values. And that makes the difference between good results and great. Value-driven action has a momentum that takes us into the realms of being unstoppable as we move towards our goals. It’s a wonderful feeling to have as you achieve your own milestones along the way.

I love this part of my work with my clients: seeing how they build plans for success that has ultimate meaning for them and seeing the passion and joy that they experience on that journey… well, it’s exactly what makes me cry at the Olympics!

Mo Farah wins the 5,000 metres at the 2012 London Olympics

We can all be great - in our own ways, big and small. Are you feeling like you’re ready to take that next step? Let’s chat.

If you are clear on what you want to do, use coaching to define and refine your plans so that you know exactly how you’re going to do it.

It may be that, even though you’re not quite sure what’s next, you know in your bones that you want a change for the better. Use coaching to understand how you can align what you’re going to do with what is really going to hit the spot of happiness and fulfilment for you.

Book an initial consultation with me here:

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