London 2012 confirms the power of coaching

by MSM Coaching on 24th September 2012

With the ‘feel good’ factor of Team GB’s medal-winning success still reverberating around the country, attention is turning to the ongoing legacy of London 2012 and its impact in encouraging greater sports participation in the country’s playing fields and leisure centres.

The role coaches played in the Olympics is widely acknowledged as one of the bedrocks of Team GB’s achievements and is set to rekindle the impact coaching can have in other walks of life. Those of us in business, for example, who are looking to reach our potential can all benefit from the kind of performance assessment and guidance which, in Olympic terms, has turned talented athletes into champions. This may be in meeting the challenges posed by a current or new role, in building effective teams or preparing for career change.

Take gold medal cyclist Laura Trott and boxer Nicola Adams. Both have paid personal tribute to their coaches who’ve helped turn years of grinding dedication into podium triumph. In fact specialist coaching has been widely heralded as a significant factor in transforming Team GB from an Olympics also-ran in 1996 with just one gold medal into 2012’s third place finishers with 29.

The coaching difference

For any Olympic athlete, including double gold winner Mo Farah and Beijing and London medallist Rebecca Adlington, personal training regimes have meant sacrificing an everyday social and family life to develop their physical prowess. But it has been the input of their coaches which has helped take their individual talent and dedication to another level – by keeping them focused, offering support when things were not going so well, setting performance goals and, importantly, challenging and pushing them to achieve.

Much of what sports coaching encourages can be equally applied in business where goal setting, planning to achieve, dealing positively with setbacks and being open to changes in personal style, approach and preparation are essential. Few of us can manage this by ourselves, quite simply because we don’t have the perspective or detachment to do so effectively. Just like our Olympic champions, we need an independent and objective assessment of individual performance to identify and develop the approach that will set us apart.

Improve performance

Working with a business coach will positively impact performance in a number of ways, much of it comparable to the successes of our top sports people:

  • Planning to achieve. Visualising success by setting measurable goals has long been accepted as a technique in sports achievement and helps with both self esteem and personal confidence. Olympic swimming silver Michael Jamieson said he had been visualising his success over and over again so when it came it was no surprise.
  • Attending to details. Small performance improvements rather than one big change can make a winner. In sport this is known as the ‘aggregation of marginal improvements’ which, together, make a meaningful difference. You probably already possess the key drivers for success but need the fine tuning of a coach to realise them fully.
  • Building self belief. It’s important to be determined and prepared for hard work to reach your full potential. This means being single-minded enough to keep at it even when the going gets tough – like British cyclists Chris Hoy and Laura Trott who often train and race to their limits until they are physically sick.
  • Managing disappointments. Failure is part of life and it’s important to be able to learn from setbacks and move on – just as athletes have to deal with injury or a loss of form. 

In business, as in sport, success rarely comes easily – you have to make it happen through hard work. But if you know yourself and engage a business coach who understands you, you will enjoy and benefit from a partnership that will help you become a winner too.