THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

How to create champions

Some of you may have watched a brief but fascinating interview with Team GBR Cycling Performance Director Dave Brailsford on BBC TV earlier this week. Sadly, the constraints of ‘sound bite’ media restricted Gary Lineker to just a few moments before the day’s coverage ended, but even those moments were priceless. When asked to explain the phenomenal success of his team, Brailsford made some interesting comments: “We don’t train cyclists to become winners, we train winners to become cyclists” The focus of the coaching team is to create such a high level of self-esteem in the minds of their ‘clients’, that they would excel at any sport or activity. Brailsford is convinced that self-esteem and the belief that they CAN win is a pre-requistite to the physical training that follows. Asked (tongue in cheek) by Lineker whether he thought the same philosophy could be applied to British footballers, Brailsford simply replied ‘yes’. In dentistry – we have to coach our clinicians to believe that they can do the work – and our teams to believe that they can excel at their individual roles and responsibilities. “We cannot expect our athletes to be on top form all of the time. We allow them to relax after a win, lose their edge and then build them back up again to peak fitness at the time of the target event.” In the case of Team GB they may well be investing a year in ‘winding down’ and then four years in ‘winding back up again’ for just five days of competition at the Olympics. There will be fractal versions of this ‘U-curve’, designed to interact with other national and global competitions – but it is clear that The Olympics is ‘the big one’. In dentistry (and in business) it is unrealistic – in fact, inhuman – to expect owners, clinicians and team members to be at peak performance ALL of the time, year in, year out. Humans are cyclical by nature (forgive the pun) and we sometimes need to eat donuts for a while before we get ourselves fit again. How often do you place demands upon yourself as an owner, or upon your team – to just ‘keep on keeping on’ with a relentless quest for sales targets, business efficiency and compliance? Arguably the greatest living sports coach in the world says it cannot be done – so we must heed the advice, learn from the example. There are going to be bad days, weeks, months, quarters and years – for individuals as well as organisations. The secret is to accept that as part of the training and coaching cycle – and plan periods of rest, reflection and then renewal. And dare I conclude that, wether it is Hoy or Pendleton, Ennis or Farah, Ainslie or Murray – outstanding performers recognise the benefits of coaching. I just cannot wait to read Dave Brailsford’s inevitable book…

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