Go fast or don’t slow?

Well, I’ve absolutely got Olympic withdrawals. Maybe I’ve not helped myself in the fact that I watched hours and hours, days and days of coverage, taking in sports that ordinarily I wouldn’t watch, let alone the ones I always do. But the Olympics does that to you doesn’t it?

There’s something about watching people who have dedicated four years of their lives to that moment. Four whole years of early mornings, late nights, sacrifice, dedication, an emotional roller coasting journey towards being an Olympian. For some their event can last a while, especially if they are in a team that progresses from round to round. But spare a thought for the ones whose Olympics are delivered in a heart beat. Losing in the first round or an event that starts and completes in less than a day.

Then there’s the sprinters.

Two qualifying heats, semi final, final. Roughly 40 seconds if you’re a 100m runner, double that if its 200m, double that if it’s 400m. Four years of training and the most you can hope to compete is roughly 3 minutes. That’s if you make the final.

Sprinting fascinates me, especially the mens 100m. I cannot comprehend how they can cover 10m in less than 1 second. Just take a moment to imagine that. By the time you have read this sentence they are 30m away from you. The mind boggles.

I have a passion for performance and the fact that they can do this just astounds me. But what really gets me came as a bit of a shock. After watching the 100m mens final when Usain Bolt won his third Olympic 100m gold medal, I suddenly had a thought. It’s not the fastest that wins.

Yes, you read correctly. It’s not the fastest that wins. I bet you’re now thinking that I may have a passion for performance, but I have no idea what constitutes a great one. Well hear me out.

I don’t think it’s the fastest that wins. I think it’s the athlete that slows down the slowest.

Think about it for a moment. To maintain such a pace from start to end must be an incredible stress on the body. To hit maximum velocity and hold it for quite a length of time. Even though it’s seconds, it’s a long time in the grand scheme of things. So these guys start to slow down, they must do. So they key to winning is slowing down the slowest. I can’t prove this, I’m not a sports scientist or biomechanics expert, but I’m pretty sure I’m right.

Which leads me to my day job, helping individuals and companies succeed and I think there’s a lesson here. So many people and organisations want to be first to market, make the first move, decide before anyone else. They believe this is what will bring them results. They’re right, but I think only half right.

They also need to learn how to slow down the slowest.

Things happen along the way that will slow you down, knock you off track, get in your way. You’ll make a mistake, you’ll lose a valuable team member, a customer will demand your time and attention. Something will start to impact on your speed.

Those people and companies that learn how to cope with the challenges, deal with the issues and make sure that they have a minimum effect on their decisions, strategies and morale will be able to sustain their efforts over a longer period of time compared to the competition. This is the secret of success, the secret to winning.

To win you not only have to be fast, but be the slowest to slow down.

Try it, you may win Gold.



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