26th May 2016

Best of the Best

On August the 5th this year, as they do every 4 years, the absolute cream of the planet’s athletes and sportspeople will gather in an unsurpassed festival of sporting excellence. This year it will be in Rio and I have little doubt that the spectacle will be every bit as impressive as it was 4 years ago in London and 4 years before that in Beijing.

The ritual and regular gathering of the best of the best regularly produces world records, world firsts and personal bests by the boat load. What we, the spectators, get to see and experience is the tip of the iceberg. We see the final performances that are the culmination of a lifetime of effort, of training, of deliberate practice which are in themselves the result of a single decision to be the best, to be number one, to be the best of the best.

More than 98% of all of the sportspeople at the Olympics will have a coach, if not actually with them, at the games, then present with them on their journey. Many will have more than one coach in their careers. It would be easy to draw the conclusion that if you want to be good, you have to have a coach. That would be true.

I would like to propose a different perspective which says that ‘because you are good, you deserve a coach’. You owe it to yourself to have a coach. Coaching is not something that you should necessarily use to move from a mediocre performance to an adequate performance, although coaching will certainly help in that transition. Coaching is for people, for businesses and for business leaders who are already good and want to move to great. Who want to optimise their potential, who deserve to play at the top of their game, more often, more easily and effortlessly and more consistently.

The output may be to shave a fraction of a second off Usain Bolt’s time over 100 metres, or to add £100, 000 to the bottom line of a business or to help you to find a little more joy at work. Whatever it is for you, the fact remains that the higher levels of performance are only ever achieved with some form of coaching and mentoring.

Coaching is for people for whom being the best matters. Now of the hundreds that compete at the Olympics only a very small proportion will be medallists and an even smaller proportion will be gold medallists, but every one of them can be gold medallists in the event called ‘being the best I can be’ and if that is important to you, then you need a coach. If that isn’t important to you, then you need a coach.

As Steve Prefontaine says on the poster on my wall “To give anything other than your best is to sacrifice the gift”.