Maintaining Energy, Keeping Focussed | supporting-champions
Jan 5, 2018

Maintaining Energy, Keeping Focussed



I used to be in awe of those individuals, who I envisage jump out of bed in the morning, 'go get the day' and work relentlessly to achieve their ambitious goals. However, the older I get I have come to realise that these people don’t actually motivate me but tend to sap my energy. Now I am not saying that enthusiasm is not a great virtue but I have a more balanced view of individuals who I find motivating who are able to balance an ambitious goal with a healthy life balance.


A light bulb moment for me come when I was asked to fulfil the Olympic Team Leader role for London for the sport I was working in. I remember vividly being sat in the room with the great and the good of British Sport giving myself a virtual pat on the back when I started to ask myself 'Did I really want to be these people?'. It was a very strange feeling, I started wondering how many failed marriages might have been in that room, how they have time to see their kids, etc. To work in high performance sport and have the relenting ambition to constantly strive to win gold medals is hard and inevitably you have to give some things up, which in the long term I wasn’t prepared to do. Success for me is being a good husband, dad, friend, whilst having work I feel passionate about but doesn’t consume me.


I still have ambitious goals for my work and life but take a more sensible view on how to achieve them. Here’s what I think you need:


1. Define what does success look like for you?

It is worth asking yourself the question - What are you prepared to give up in order to reach an ambitious goal?

Once answered it might be worth going back to defining success or at the very least the time frame you want to achieve it in.


2. Manage your energy:

On a work front you need to be the energy 'tone' of the team and keep everyone enthused about the stretch goals you may have put in front of them.


3. Set smaller goals as well as 'ambitious goals':

Ambitious Goals tend to be longer term so you need to think about keeping momentum towards them by setting and achieving smaller goals.


4. Framing the Goal:

Spend some time to really develop the Ambitious goal with your teams to develop its language and meaning. It should be that if you asked any of your staff to relay it back to you they can and they believe in it as well.


Would love to hear from others about how you wrestle with ambition and life balance and what other factors do you need to reach ambitious goals?

Jan 10, 2018

Andy, this is a really powerful piece, thank you. I have written about this before, but I was once talked down by a mentor figure, who stated to me - "You can't have a successful career in high-performance and a successful personal relationship". I was shocked by this and believe this isnt the case. I am not naive to think that for the top jobs there is more than just being present at more and more meetings, but there is increasing demand for your time. I work with a CEO whose schedule is just insane, but there is a demand on his presence. i.e. if he is not there giving personalised attention to the key client then they wont feel special and they are unlikely to part with cash. The same is true for elite sport where a performance director is the one who most efficiently scatters the wolves and gets bridges built. I think this presents a challenge for support staff of leaders. If we expect people in a position of responsibility to make sustained high-quality decision making then they need support in the same way an elite athlete does. And if this type of executive support isnt possible, then the person in positions of responsibilities, should be clear on focusing their decision making on the things that matter most that day for short, medium and long term value. That way they are more likely to have demonstrated high productivity/high value that day, the peripheral stuff can wait and would likely fall below, restorative family time, in priority. Supporting Champions are going to be working on connecting with our higher purpose these next few days - we'll come back to you with an update.

Like Andy I'd be keen to hear how other people manage well-being in the face of growing demand

First off, thanks Andy for addressing this issue head on, and providing some really relevant and important questions to ask ourselves and gain clarity in this area. For me, and perhaps many other practitioners in the early-mid stages of our careers, we haven't ever stopped to consider these questions; it's typically been a case of head down, bum up and work as hard as possible for as long as possible to achieve...better. More. What that better sitaution, or "more" is for me, I'm not sure I could tell you. I just want to achieve, but what I'm willing to sacrifice to do that hasn't ever been considered until recently. And the result of that is going down paths that I may not have done if I'd had this frame of reference to guide me. Knowing my limits up front allows for much better (and smarter) decision-making.

Which brings me to the point, that perhaps we can add managing expectations when you're striving for a big career goal. In the high performance sport environment, and business as well, there are many expectations placed on practitioners and managers to operate in a certain way–to do more, sacrifice more, give more–in order to achieve. But where does this end? I think this is a trap that many of us fall into in these early stages, falsely believing there is no other way to succeed or reach our ambitious career goals. So to hear from other more experienced practitioners and leaders that it actually is possible to be successful in our career as well as maintain a healthy personal life is a very big relief! I'm certainly going to give these questions some careful consideration, and keep these strategies front of mind moving forward. I'd be interested to hear other experiences, insights/learnings, strategies from practitioners and leaders in how they've managed to be successful in the long-term and enjoy life in the short term.

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