Competitive mindset or a load of coaching rubbish? You decide…
Having recently spent two weekends watching the indoor athletics championships (the first weekend was the national indoor under 15 to under 20 age groups, in Sheffield, where my daughter was competing), I noted many similarities between these highly talented athletes and the equally talented people, albeit in different disciplines, throughout the pharmaceutical industry.
We have all heard that talent is only part of it, and mindset has an equally, if not more, important role to play in helping individuals and teams perform to their best and reach their potential. In the world of Athletics, which I am coming to understand more and more, the coaches I have met and spoken too never talk about winning, which I thought was strange… why wouldn’t you want to win? They are, however, obsessed with ‘personal bests’, with the premise being that your best chance of winning is by achieving your personal best every time you compete and that your biggest competitor is yourself.
So where’s the link to the industry? It can be associated with 3 things:
- Practice, even if you’re already excellent. Those blessed with an abundance of experience and/or talent shouldn’t neglect the basics. Practice requires discipline and is generally the first thing to fade. For example: ask yourself, how many times you or your teams practice before an important sales call or a meeting? How many times do you practice? The best athletes all train at least 3 times per week – even if they are the best in the world. How many times do your teams challenge themselves and practice, even if they are highly experienced, the market leader, or currently have no competition? This sounds like an obvious thing to do but is rarely employed. By practicing, you are conditioning your body and mind to understand what needs to be done and how to do it – then no situation should come as a surprise.
- You’re as good as you think you’ll be… Games, races, business deals are lost or won before they are even started. A new competitor comes out and starts to gain traction against the current market leader and you start to believe they are better than they really are. Heads go down, a vicious circle starts and quickly becomes self-fulfilling, as self-doubt sets in and excuses start (they have a better product, their marketing is clearer, they have more resource, we can’t say what they can). Conversely, individuals and teams that are positive and believe they can win will always be more successful than teams or individuals that don’t. Many companies have seen a new competitor launch a product that is no better than theirs, but seen their market share dwindle away and wonder why! This was also apparent at the world athletics championships, where there were athletes who wanted to achieve more – even those that had just podiumed or won gold. Then there were those who accepted where they were and treated it as an ‘experience’ and accepted that the competition was better.
- Personal Best… This is why ‘Personal Best’ makes complete sense, and why winning is a consequence of achieving your personal best. If you go out to achieve your personal best every day or, where athletes are concerned, every time you compete, you will improve and eventually win. This same logic applies to business. If you go out to try and achieve your personal best every day, you will improve, and if you do this consistently, you can be reasonably sure your competitors won’t. Simply adopting this mindset will give you a competitive advantage.
The challenge is not about addressing a lack of talent, it’s about how you’re able to embed this mindset throughout your organisation, to ensure your people achieve their personal bests, for collective commercial excellence, and beat the competition.
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