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I recently had the good fortune to participate in a workshop with Alisa Camplin, the Australian Gold Medal-winning aerial skier as our keynote speaker. Drawing on her experiences in competitive skiing, she shared a number of observations that are fundamental to the working world. I’ve compiled a few of my favourite — just to start the year off right!

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1) You cannot be great at something you’re not passionate about.

It’s true, you can be good at things that you aren’t passionate about. You can probably even be pretty damn good if you’ve got talent, but being great requires much more. In his book Outliers: The Secret to Success, Malcolm Gladwell details intimately story after story of people who’ve made it versus those that haven’t. All had talent. All had opportunity. All worked hard. But it was the right combination of hard work, talent, and refining habits that separated those who did pretty well from those who did really well.

Passion is defined as a ‘very strong feeling about a thing, a compelling desire or enthusiasm to do something’.  It’s easy to be good in the good times. It’s easy to be good on the days where it’s all going well. However, on days where it’s not going well, when the phone calls aren’t quite working, when perhaps you aren’t quite on your game that your passion can sometimes take a back seat. Every single time you do something you should be thinking that this is the biggest stage you’re on.

2) A vision without a plan is just a wish.

How many people do you know in your life that are ‘gunno-dos’.  I’m gunna do that later.  I would have done that but…  I should have done that but….  While Alisa encourages a life lived without regret, not planning for your success isn’t really a vision.

For your information, this saying was originally attributed to Antoine De-Saint Exupery, the guy who wrote ‘The Little Prince’.  He also happened to learn to fly planes when he was 12 years old.

 3) Am I working hard enough when no-one else is watching?

To me this is about the gritty, yucky, hard times. The early morning gym sessions. The extra time you put into making that proposal perfect. The late nights back in the office doing the stuff you need to do, even if you don’t want to do it. The , perfecting that proposal, the knockbacks, the customer fails, the times that you didn’t quite nail it. This is about what you’ve learned, how to grow, and how to keep your focus sharp.

4) Focus on the process, not on outcomes.

In coaching, we often talk about focusing on the process of coaching rather than the content of the coaching session and the outcomes will present themselves in the best possible manner. For me, this idea is quite familiar. Don’t let the prospect of failure or ‘not being good enough’ get inside your head and mess with your abilities.

We’ve all been in situations where we haven’t quite ‘nailed’ something and then in hindsight, we realise we knew what we had to do, we just couldn’t recall it in the moment. That ‘moment’ is the point at which we’ve let the outcome, the result we want, the competition, or our audience psych us out. Because we let ourselves get rattled and shifted our focus, we haven’t delivered our best. If we focus on what we know, our talents, our skills, and our training will take over and lead us to better results. In the working world this amounts to sticking with our individual (and organisational) core strategy in order to win.

5) Rest and enjoy.

If there’s one thing I’m passionate about it’s leading a balanced life. That’s not necessarily the old cliche of work/life balance, of working 9 to 5 which is less and less common these days. I’m talking about when I’m home, when I’m with my partner, or with our menagerie of animals, or when I’m relaxing on my deck, I’m in the moment. Those small moments of ‘being present’ just for yourself and those around you are the best gift you can give yourself and the best way to recharge, so that you can be your best at work.

These were the ideas that resonated most from a workshop packed with great ideas and led by a really inspiring person. It was a great way to begin the new year — well-rested and newly-motivated.

The next time someone says you can’t, the next time you think you can’t, or the next time you feel it’s ‘too hard’, ask yourself: “What would Alisa Camplin do? What would she advise if she was right beside you in that moment?”

I know I’m going to.

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