Tales of an HR Services Expert – Day 6: I row – it could have been me!

I had the huge pleasure of meeting Ben Hunt-Davis (who is really tall, 6ft 6!). Ben is an Olympic gold medal winner from the Sydney 2000 games. He won, with his team, the gold medal for rowing in the men’s 8s.

This is particularly relevant to me as I rowed in the Goring and Streatley Regatta the last two years.

Last year was the first time I had rowed (although I have paddled a canoe before) and the effort required to get four people to do the same thing at the same time, consistently, is mind-blowingly difficult. Ever had that feeling at work?!

Ben and his team made gold because they asked themselves about every incident and decision “Will this make the boat go faster?” If not, then they didn’t do it! They even made the decision to NOT parade in the once in a lifetime opening ceremony – they watched it on TV!! Why? Because before a normal race they wouldn’t stand around for 4 hours, late into the night, celebrating with bad food and alcohol, so why do so just before THE race? How would it make their boat go faster? Answer is of course, it wouldn’t. And they were right: all the others went, they didn’t, and they won the gold!

While this is of course relevant to rowing, it is easily applicable to business. How much of what you do it making your “boat” go faster at work? Or are you, as so many of us are, distracted by stuff that actually takes us in the opposite direction?

Now last year we won the regatta, by two boat lengths in the final! This year was somewhat different, and our reasons for failure apply equally well to your business.

– We were allocated to the advanced class. Not bad in itself, but then all the emails flying around between the others in the team were about how we weren’t good enough to be in this class, and how could they do this to us, and it was unfair, and we would never be able to win. How defeatist!

– On the day, one of the members of the team continued in this mode, although the other three of us were up for the challenge. We even had to tell her to shut up at one point because she was just so down and was saying that it wasn’t really even worth turning up.

– For me personally, I was not focused on the rowing that day. I was rushing around taking kids to their activities and “fitting in” the regatta in the afternoon. No focus, too many other things on my mind, not calm and collected like Ben’s team.

How many things are you juggling in your business that aren’t core, don’t really contribute and are distracting you from where you want to be?

So although we had exactly the same team, the external conditions had changed and we were unable to respond properly.
Look at your team and see if that is the same for you. Your team that used to be able to deliver the business one/two/three years ago, have the conditions changed? Are they talking themselves down? Are they blaming the economy rather than changing to survive?

What distractions do you need to get rid of to make your “boat” go faster?

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