What sports people can teach business owners in 2015 …

What sports people can teach business owners in 2015 …


There are all sorts of signals for the start of Christmas – and a key one for me is the BBC’s SPOTY – Sports Personality of the Year.

It’s compulsory viewing in our house as Mr Day watches anything loosely defined as ‘sport’.  But, that said, I love it because it’s such a great celebration of human endeavour and ferocious enterprise. The efforts that focused individuals will go to to achieve their dream is extraordinary.

This year’s Helen Rollason Award, for example, went to all the competitors in the first ever Invictus Games for injured servicemen. Honestly, humbling doesn’t even begin to describe their achievements.

And of course there is an incredibly clear message for business owners here.

Clarity and focus

In my experience, the major defining feature separating successful sports people from most business owners and is simply clarity of their goals. So many business owners simply can’t tell you their version of ‘Gold in Rio 2016’. In a mass of woolly ‘like to haves’ they miss the point that the sheer simplicity of that statement is truly focusing.

I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting Sir Chris Hoy last year – Britain’s most decorated Olympian and the recipient of this year’s SPOTY 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award. And what a very worthy winner.

He exemplifies what it means to succeed. Most people think Olympians of his calibre are simply ‘born’ but he will be the first to tell you that his achievements were a bigger surprise to him than others – he certainly didn’t see himself as special in anyway or even especially talented.

But, in my opinion, what separated him from the others were two things… firstly, when asked, aged 15, he openly stated his goal of wanting to get to the Olympics. He was good – very good – but not great at that time but that didn’t stop him having a properly audacious goal to focus on. Others in the team didn’t and limited themselves to what they thought sounded ‘realistic’ – probably in fear of looking daft if they failed.

Secondly, you can only be in awe of the massive effort he has deployed in the pursuit of his dream. The guy is fit – physically and mentally – to an extraordinary degree and he has always understood what the sacrifice needs to be in order to get what he wants.

The right goals for YOU

In business, not every wants ‘Richard Branson’ levels of wealth – but it would be a mistake to assume that simpler goals are either less worthy or easier to achieve. For many it’s a matter of achieving sufficient turnover and cash that they can afford to employ someone and give them weekends off to spend time with the with the kids, or to be able to take the whole family to Disney next year. These are fantastic goals and standing on the touchline on Saturdays cheering the kids, or booking your trip will be hugely affirming that all the hard work has been worthwhile

So please, this is a GREAT time of the year to dream your dreams. Frame your dream in a way that gives you something really purposeful to work towards in 2015 – don’t be woolly. Then make your plan to ensure it happens. The clearer your goal for 2015, the easier it will be to keep it alive and help you focus in the months ahead.

I’m off for Christmas now – somewhere warm this year! – so have a fabulous time and I look forward to taking up the challenge with you next year.



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