Olympic sports have been a big part of my professional life. I served as the Chairman of the US Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Programs, which means I led the organization responsible for all aspects of Olympic and Paralympic sailing in the United States. It was a big job, and one I enjoyed greatly.
I recall a conversation with one of our coaches about how to replicate superior performances. We see some athletes continually achieve their goals and succeed. And we see other athletes who continually underachieve. And after some extensive thought and consideration, my colleague and I settled on a formula that we think captures the essence of repeated success. Here’s the formula:
High Performance = (Skill + Commitment) – Distractions
In the world of Olympic sports, skill is required. You can’t be the best at anything without some innate skill, and the same is true in nearly all endeavors. But skill isn’t nearly enough. We see many skilled sailors who don’t achieve their goals. In addition to skill, we see commitment as a requirement. You can have all the skill in the world, but without a superior commitment to excellence, the skill will almost certainly get wasted. I will argue that in sports, it is rarely the most talented or skilled athlete who wins. It is often the most committed skilled athlete who wins. And I’ll make the same argument in the business world.
And finally, the last component, is a lack of distractions, and I think this component is often overlooked. The competitor who does the best job eliminating distractions has the best chance of capitalizing on their skill and commitment. In sports or business, the talented and committed person or team who can also eliminate the most variables or roadblocks, is the team I want to bet on.
So there you have it… a simple but powerful way to think about achievement. As you look at your team, or as you look in the mirror, ask yourself if you have these three variables the way you want them. Do you have skill? Are you committed? And are you doing enough to eliminate the distractions?
If the answer to all three is “yes” then you are well set up to succeed.
If the answer to any of them is “no”, you have some things to think about.
And if the answer to all three is “no” you have a lot of work to do.
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