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To learn and to change – it’s not an either/or

We work as human performance experts helping businesses to think prepare and perform like elite athletes. We help people to focus their desire to improve on things they could do differently – sometimes parts of their performance that they have never considered – and often helping them to do some of the obvious things that they’ve never done because they’re too busy chasing results.

What we do then, is help people to embrace the changes that they want and need to make to get better.

There is an obvious and massive connection between on the one hand performance improvement and learning and on other hand, change. They are two sides of the same coin.

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High performance delivery

A slightly different blog from us this week. Take a look at this video of Oliver Wilson after his victory at golf’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last weekend. How much can you see in there that tells you why and how Oliver Wilson is an elite performer.

We think there’s a lot. As a starter, we think:

  • the recognition that performance is a journey
  • a desire to improve and learn
  • recognition that sometimes talent isn’t enough (see rule 5)
  • sometimes you need to “man up” (see rule 21)
  • maintaining belief
  • working on confidence

What else do you see and hear?

Given that high performance thinking, preparation and performance are often similar from one context to another, what do you see and hear that could be applied to your world?

Often the biggest insights are the simplest ones right in front of your face.

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Talent Development and Firing Yourself

The typical approach we see to talent development in the business world makes our hearts sink just a little. We know it’s all done with the best of intent but in terms of talent development, creating and nurturing a high performance culture and crucially, fulfilling the talent that has been so expensive to identify and acquire, it’s just a bit rubbish.

Let’s get some fundamentals established first. As ever in these position papers, we’re looking at the world through a high performance lens and so the standards are high. If you’re looking for your talent development to be just OK or not bad, you probably won’t get much out of this paper. If you want your talent development programme to reflect how serious you are about human performance, then read on.

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Performance reviews in the dark

We worked with a team recently in a very large business where there was quite a lot of unhelpful noise about performance reviews being linked to pay rises. In this team, of about 15 people, the view of the leader and of the team members was that everyone was performing very well and we saw evidence to back that up. However the leader had been told that under their system, this was not possible and only a certain number of people in the team could be performing excellently (and get a higher pay rise) and that a certain number had to be underperforming (in order to get a lower pay rise).

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Performance is a choice

“There are so many other men that could be sitting in this seat, but he’s sitting here (as Olympic champion). The reason that he’s sitting here is because of the choices that he’s made and that’s something that’s valuable to each and every one of us”

Mike Singletary, American Football Coach (talking to camera when meeting Mark Hunter, Olympic gold medallist)

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The Great British Bake Off

The latest series of the Great British Bake-Off has been filling our TV screens and the column inches of our national newspapers over the last week or so. Now in series 5, it’s strangely compelling mixture of comedy, drama, cooking and competition, and has consistently captured the public’s imagination as essential TV viewing since it’s first series. We’ve been watching ‘Bake-Off’ avidly (well, some of us have), and inevitably we’ve been viewing it through a performance lens (which might seem odd but then again we’re a pretty strange bunch of people). Here are our top 3 insights on what Bake Off reinforces about performance:

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Smart Meter

We’re proud to work with some of the UK’s largest energy providers. One of the things we’ve observed is how hard these “traditional” businesses work to embrace the opportunities and challenges of the latest technology.

For example, over the last few years smart meters have been installed into approximately 1 million British homes. These gadgets engage customers with cause and effect on their energy usage using a simple and user-friendly gadget. This means about 1 million households in Britain can conduct ongoing research into how to better manage their energy consumption. Yes, much of the stuff you find out from these things is common sense, but the meters help engage people with doing the things they need to do to get the results they want – a more efficient home and lower energy bill. In effect, they help engage people with turning commonsense into common practice.

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Sustained Excellence

Roger Federer is currently preparing for the US Open. One of the true greats of the game, he’s vying for his 18th Grand Slam title. He holds a host of modern day records – like winning all 24 finals he reached from July 2003 to November 2005. But in the debate about ‘who’s the greatest’, the most impressive and compelling argument for Federer must be his longevity at the very very top of the game. The US Open will be his 60th consecutive Grand Slam, having competed in his first in 1998. He won his first Grand Slam in 2003. His career as a tennis professional spans nearly 20 years – which is fairly remarkable by modern day standards. But what is almost completely unique is that he’s consistently been delivering at the very highest level – he’s been in the world’s top 6 since 2002 and has only failed to win a Grand Slam in two calendar years during that time.

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Desire to Improve

You’re probably familiar with the story of the tortoise and the hare – the hare all lightning acceleration and speed but running out of steam, the tortoise slow to start, slow to move but winning on perseverance. But rather than tortoise or hare, what would be the qualities of an animal that has the best of both worlds.

The graphic part way down this post about the world’s top golfers http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/golf/28745314 looks at success in majors against age, a kind of tortoise v hare equivalent. The chances are that whether you’re looking at Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy or any of the other players, the reason they’re on the graphic is because they all have a constant desire to improve their game, coupled with a willingness to work hard at doing that. It’s the two things combined that are essential and powerful.

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Advantage Scotland

Well, the bonanza summer of sport continues and the Commonwealth Games are in full swing in Glasgow. Approaching the half way point, Team Scotland have already surpassed their greatest ever medal tally. While sport in Scotland is undoubtedly thriving, it’s no coincidence that so many Scottish athletes are producing career best performances on their home turf. So what’s different about competing at home, and how are Scottish athletes using this to their advantage?

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