Before and After – a lesson from the Olympians

(post by Andrew Thorp)

In 2009 I wrote a book about sport and the lessons we could draw from elite athletes and apply in business. Watching the Olympics last night reminded me of the importance of what goes on ‘off screen’, the time when athletes aren’t performing in public.

Golf was my sport and I worked in the industry for 22 years, as a coach, manager, consultant and journalist.  Golfers will be familiar with the term PAR (the score against which we’re judged) – but this time I’m using it as an acronym:

P = Preparation

A = Action

R = Review

We’re all familiar with the ‘A’ bit in sport – that’s when the whistle blows/gun goes off and the ACTION begins. This is when athletes come under intense scrutiny. This is their moment of truth when the eyes of the world are focused on them – and they perform to an extraordinarily high standard.

But that’s only because of what goes on behind the scenes. What we as an audience don’t see are the endless hours of practice and training (‘P’ for PREPARATION) that produces that performance, and the forensic ‘post-match’ analysis with the coach/manager/psychologist (the ‘R’ in REVIEW).

The reputation of an athlete is defined by these short-lived moments under the public eye, but such moments are flanked by hours and hours of relatively unremarkable down-time. In business we too have the occasional moment ‘on the stage’ – a key interview, a presentation or a crucial meeting. But for the most part our job consists of a lower level of pressure that’s more constant. However, seeing it that way can lead to complacency.

I would suggest that your job includes a lot more moments of truth than you realise.

I listed the more obvious ones above, but what about these:

  • The first thing you say to your secretary in the morning
  • The way you answer the telephone
  • The greeting given by a receptionist
  • The way you introduce yourself at a networking event
  • The moment someone walks into your shop or restaurant
  • The weekly management meeting?

These are moments of truth too when people form a judgement based on how you perform. But here’s the thing…

  • Do you recognise them as an ‘A’ moment?
  • Are you doing enough ‘P’ to prepare for them?
  • And are you systematically reviewing (‘R’) your performance after each occasion?

If the answer is ‘no’, then perhaps it’s time to take a leaf out of the Olympians’ book and treat these moments with the respect they deserve? You might not win any medals, but employees, clients and associates will notice the difference, and rewards will surely come through the bottom line.


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Mojo Your Business is an innovative training & consultancy company based in Manchester, UK. We're passionate about helping businesses and individuals perform better through effective communication. We specialise in corporate storytelling and how it applies to internal and external communication (employee relations, employability skills, leadership, relationship building, sales, marketing and public relations). More at
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