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The champions’ guide to driving success

As organisations head back to business after the summer break, we’ve reflected on some of the key messages from our recent Vocus Inspire: Our Olympic and Paralympic Heroes series. The sessions featured Australian swimming sensation and Olympic gold medalist Ariarne Titmus, her passionate coach Dean Boxall, Australian men’s 800m finalist at the Tokyo Olympics, Peter Bol and former Australian soldier and Paralympian gold medalist Curtis McGrath OAM.

The following outlines some valuable insights these incredible athletes shared to take forward into 2022.

Find your why, love what you do, and have fun along the way. Engage in pursuits you enjoy and that fulfil a deep sense of purpose. Loving what you do will help you move forward when things get tough, and you have inevitable difficulties to overcome. Put simply by Peter Bol, “Figure out what you want to do and just do it.”

Orient yourself by setting goals. In addition to guiding your focus and providing momentum, goals can also be an antidote to overcoming adversity. Curtis McGrath experienced the positive power of goals whilst recovering from a tragic accident on the battlefield in Afghanistan, as he worked towards becoming a Paralympian and once again representing his country.

Ensure your goals are SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely—and that they are broken into manageable sub-goals. For the best chance of achieving your goals, write them down so they are a constant reminder, and announce your goals to others to gain support. In fact, if you tell others about your goals, you are 60 per cent more likely to follow through with them.

A trusting partnership between coach and athlete is essential. Ariarne Titmus and Dean Boxall are one of Australia’s best coach-athlete partnerships. Key to achieving the pinnacle of success is the mutual trust they have built. Similar to the relationship between a leader and their direct reports, Dean advises that the role of a coach is to both encourage and critique, in order to push the limits of what’s possible. He believes that “leadership is telling people what they don’t want to hear”.

Whilst the coach sets the strategy and training plan to achieve the athlete’s ambition, the athlete must be accountable to deliver to the plan. Accountability includes training day in and day out and accepting feedback with an open mind. More than anything else, it is essential to trust the process, when executing under high pressure on a race day.

Hold yourself to high standards and don’t be afraid of failure. Dean quoted the Japanese proverb “Fall down seven times, get up eight” as he advised, “You've got to embrace failure, or you'll never be great.” Ariarne and Dean have a single-minded pursuit of an ‘outstanding’ standard and anything that falls short of this is disregarded.

Analysing data is critical to formulating a winning strategy. Tracking and analysing data of your performance versus your competitors provides powerful insights. It can help identify untapped opportunities and exploit competitor weaknesses when formulating a winning strategy, proving once again that data is the new gold.

Success is addictive. Ariarne Titmus thrives on constant improvement and chasing greater heights of success as she sets even more ambitious goals following her gold medal winning performance at the Tokyo Olympic games.

Rest and renewal is an important part of the process.
Stephen R. Covey coined the phrase “Sharpen the saw” in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and the athletes confirmed that taking some time out to rejuvenate will increase effectiveness over time and ensure high levels of energy and motivation are maintained.

The next event in the Vocus Inspire series will coincide with International Women’s Day 2022 and will feature a panel including young British explorer Lucy Shepherd, fresh from her adventures in the Amazon jungle. It will be live on Zoom at 10am AEDT on Thursday 3 March. To keep an eye out for registration details, follow us on LinkedIn.