The winning mindset: seven insights from global leaders to take you from stress to success
No matter how resilient you are, the impact of the latest lockdown feels like starting a marathon with tired legs.
While company executives review the terms of their office leases, employees are juggling work and home-schooling in a burnout inducing blur.
As a result of this, our mental game is under more challenge than ever, we’re being asked to rethink our daily schedules and reimagine our future business models. The ability to think creatively is an exhausting task with some even claiming that we are in a ‘creativity crisis’ however the key to our success in the months ahead lies in the ability to change our mindset.
As a former England cricketer, I know that my mindset was often the difference between my best and worst performances. After completing an MSc at Loughborough University, I retired from playing to support some of the biggest names in international sport including South African cricket, Premier League football teams and England Rugby.
I’ve spent the last decade interviewing the world’s leading thinkers and performers from business, academia and sport to help executives to navigate uncertainty and change. There’s a fundamental human trait which we need to understand before we can overcome it.
Our brain was built for safety and while some novelty, uncertainty and uncontrollability can be exciting, when overdone this potent cocktail can be debilitating. With technological disruption, Brexit and now the Covid-19 pandemic we’ve dialled up the holy trinity of the stress response and our brains are on high alert.
Being primed for short term survival causes us to fixate on the threats in our environment that we can neither control nor influence. This feeling of helplessness erodes our confidence and ability to think creatively.
While the ‘winning mindset’ sounds like we need to deliver something superhuman, winning in this context could be as simple as navigating the week while retaining our energy, resilience and optimism.
Here are seven key insights to take you from stress to success:
1. Graeme Smith
The former South African cricket captain had a picture on his fridge as a youngster depicting his dream of leading his national team. He used that long term inspirational goal as his personal and professional compass ensuring his daily choices were aligned with his long-term dream. Even when times got tough the picture reminded him of what he wanted to achieve – he became their most successful captain in history. What long term goal can you stay emotionally connected to as an individual or business?
2. Sir Dave Brailsford
The elite cycling coach builds on this explaining that ‘Anyone can have dreams, but we need to break those down into tangible targets and behaviours so that we identify what is needed to achieve them. We need to recalibrate our expectation of what a ‘gold medal day’ looks like for us in the new context.
3. Dr Tara Swart
This renowned neuroscientist encourages us to ‘reconnect with our past successes in times of self-doubt and use those positive lessons to give us the courage to keep going.’ Revisit a time when you last performed well in a difficult situation - what strengths did you use to achieve this as an individual, team or business?
4. Annabel Croft
The former GB No1 tennis star reinforces the need to build a world class support team around us. ‘Andy Murray is seen as a champion in a solo sport, but he selects a team around him to help him to deliver his best.’ Who’s in your dream team?
5. Anna Hemmings
The former Olympian reminds us to stay active ‘Resilience doesn’t mean being stubborn and working relentlessly – I experienced burnout and I don’t want to go there again’ How can you build exercise and downtime into your daily routine to get the huge physical and emotional benefits it brings? Having your yoga/running gear by the bedroom door to make it easy to choose the healthy habit.
6. May Busch
The executive coach and former COO of Morgan Stanley "big corporations are like supertankers which struggle to change direction. So the best way to futureproof your business is to invest time and resource into little speed boat projects which can test and learn quickly, many will fail but some can guide the main business to a more innovative future." What projects can you experiment in now to help you to prepare for the demands and customer expectations of the future?
7. Rasmus Ankersen
The best-selling author and director of Brentford FC advises us to "think like an outsider, as if you are a new CEO in their first day in your current role. What would they change? Without being held back by past politics or limitations, what can you do to look through fresh eyes on the future and challenge the status quo?
In 2021, learning and adapting provide a competitive advantage and our tenacity will define our success.
Jeremy Snape, pictured below, is the founder of Sporting Edge, a corporate coach and presenter of the Apple Chart top 10 podcast Inside the Mind of Champions