GE as Olympic sponsors kindly asked me to do a turn the other evening, on workshops I’ve run pre-Olympics for UK Sport.
As the audience were about to play some team games themselves, we ran it as an interactive session. Here’s what we tackled:
What stories are running through individuals’ minds before competition – and how do they contribute to team mind?
Taking Snow White as example, this can be a story of virtue under attack (by the Evil Queen), of a marginalized minority rising up and protecting the vulnerable (the Seven Dwarves), or of the power and invention of evil (the Evil Queen nearly gets away with it).
For competitive sport – or competitive anything – the best scenarios combine what might be possible with what is realistic. An Olympian once told me that via online coaching from Australia, she could produce 90% of the physical changes experienced on track, in her front room. Amazing, eh?
A very popular notion currently in psychology is that we have two types of thinking : quick, reactive, survival one and slower, more considered, analytical one. The first one belongs to our inner chimps and they can play havoc with any type of performance.
They can turn us into annihilating gun slingers, where aggression overrides any possibility of cool analysis, or timid cowards, who mentally, and/or, physically desert the scene of battle.
In teams, we often experience a pairing fantasy – that two team members will pair to produce a successful outcome (baby!). Like Joseph and Mary, Bonnie and Clyde, David and Nick (or should that be George) or Barack and Michelle…
Work-life balance is irrelevant to many Olympians – there’s sport first, then life. And some of the best coaches are markedly introvert, drilling down deep into their interest for most precise calibration and in-depth expertise. Personal lives and a sense of perspective may suffer as a result.
I’m not sure you get any sort of progress without this fixated nerdiness, and, in truth, love it.
Whatever then you think of the Olympics, we should celebrate dedication. And here’s a fascinating talk from the Do Lectures on storytelling.