Peak Performance

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Did you watch the Wimbledon tennis men’s singles final between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic last weekend? Apparently over 15 million viewers tuned in to watch the performance. If you were one of those, what did you think? We sat riveted by the match and watched both players grinding it out and showing their talents. As it started to look like Murray was going to secure his win – the tension built and the deciding game seemed to take forever. Andy Murray in particular looked like he was throwing absolutely everything he had into trying to secure victory.

As we watched, Carole and I exchanged views like, ‘How will Murray continue if he loses this game? He seems to be going for broke, leaving nothing in the tank and pushing at the limit for the win.’ Thankfully for him (and for our nerves) he came through, winning the game, and in so doing, beating Djokovic in straight sets. The 77 year old monkey is off the back of British, or should that be Scottish, men’s tennis at last.

And as sure as night follows day, folk will use this opportunity to blog about high performance at work. I’ve already spotted stuff with titles like, ‘How to Serve the Winning Point at Work’, ‘Learning from Andy Murray to Deliver a World Beating Performance at Work’, and ‘Get Some Balls! Smash your way to Better Workplace Performance’. The last one of these is my personal favourite. But the trouble with all this ‘sporting performance at work’ stuff is that for me, it doesn’t translate well from one environment to the other.

I’ll try to give you an example using one of my sporting heroes, Sir Chris Hoy. Sir Chris was renowned for his mammoth work effort and training regime. He got to be as good as he is through applying phenomenal amounts of effort and hard work to his talent. After intense periods of training, his sporting performances were often delivered in short, extremely powerful spikes as he excelled in sprinting events on the cycling track. And just like Andy Murray was on Sunday, Sir Chris would be completely spent after his work was done. I guess you’d expect nothing less from a competitor when they’re going for the biggest prize in sport.

Thankfully, for the vast majority of us mere mortals, work isn’t about delivering gold medal, championship winning performances, it’s about something a little more….sustainable. Yes good work is often hard work, and yes we need to train and develop in order to achieve our goals, but I’m pretty confident that if most employees took the stance that they need to train five hours a day in order to deliver their best performance at work, they’d soon be asked to deliver it for someone else.

So what do you think? Is the connection between sporting excellence and doing good work misplaced, or have I been tricked by an exquisite drop shot that just crept over the net? Let’s imagine I’m standing at one end of the Stop Doing Dumb Things court with my crappy wooden racket in hand, feel free to try and serve one past me.

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