independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Mind Your Step

Raise your standards – if you don't have a goal you can't score

Interior of St. Peters Basilica Vatican City Rome Italy
Interior of St. Peters Basilica Vatican City Rome Italy

Some time ago, my colleague in Fit Magazine, Gerry Duffy, delivered a presentation to a team of elite athletes. It was hugely inspirational and in the end he challenged us all to "raise our standards".

He reminded me of Michelangelo's famous statement: "The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark."

Your vision of who you are and who you want to be on the Green Platform is the greatest asset you have. If you don't have a goal, it's very difficult to score.

And your goal must be crystal clear. Otherwise, you're like a blindfolded archer firing at a target. How can you hit a target that you cannot see?

The truth is that you are the average of the five people you hang out with. Can you list your five 'friends'?' Are they positive, uplifting and inspiring? Always challenging and encouraging you to be the best that you can be, or are they your average Red Platform negative energy vampires riddling you with their negative belittling remarks and put-downs?

If they are positively living on the Green Platform continually inspiring, uplifting and empowering you – put a plus sign beside their names. If they are negative Red Platform, belittling and destructive people, put a minus sign beside their names.

If you have five minuses, you need a new set of friends'.

So back to Gerry's challenge to "raise our standards." To where? To good? To very good? To the best in your field of sport, exercise or work? To being the best in the world?

Everybody wants to be good, but not many are prepared to make the sacrifices it takes to be great. You will become whoever you want to be. The you you see really is the you you'll be. There is no instant solution. The only way to learn is through experience and mistakes.

Bonnie St John was a famous one-legged skier competing against another one-legged skier in the Paralympics. The other skier went first and fell in the final run. Bonnie told her friends that she was going to win because she wasn't going to fall.

But fall she did, and the other skier won. Bonnie's friends tried to console her saying, "She was just a faster skier than you are".

Bonnie's response was instant: "No, she is not a faster skier. She just got up faster than I did."

One thing is sure in this life and that's that we're all going to fall. We are all going to get knocked down.

Some people never get up and some people get up so slowly that it often takes years of bitterness and anger (or the Red Platform) before they recover and bounce back on the Green Platform.

Bonnie later became a Rhodes scholar and studied at Oxford. She said: "People fall down. Winners get up. Gold medal winners get up fastest."

So aim beyond what you are capable of. Develop a complete disregard for where your abilities end. Make your vision of where you want to be a reality. Nothing is impossible. There is no limit to what you can achieve. It's not how good you are. It's how great you want to be.

As Gerry Duffy, the winner of the toughest 10-day endurance challenge in the world says: "Raise your standards."

Declan Coyle is a director of Andec Communications. His motivational techniques have been used by several All-Ireland winning teams. declan@andec.ie.

Irish Independent

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