“Being English I crave disappointment…” (Bill Bailey)

Categories: Winnthinks

Go on, if you’re English, admit it. You know exactly what he means. We could even widen it out to the rest of the UK, I reckon… self-deprecation and false modesty are peculiarly British traits and Bill Bailey nailed it perfectly.

Thing is, sometimes we Brits surprise ourselves, and never more so than during London 2012. Think about the build up: top news stories were the G4S security debacle, corporate strangulation of small traders, the official driver who got lost, the Korean flag blunder and a lost set of keys to Wembley Arena. Even our wonderful Opening Ceremony – that joyously quirky celebration of Britishness that proved us a match for anyone on a world stage – even that contained the inevitable nod to the anti-establishment and a few brilliant pops at our most revered icons.

And then something happened. As a nation, we suddenly got comfortable with blowing the British trumpet. And now we are about to do it all again with the Paralympics, and I can hardly wait.

The Olympic spirit is often said to be summed up in the words of Baron Pierre de Courbertin, father of the modern Olympiad: “The important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part.” I remember that phrase being bandied about at school, and I’m afraid that in PE I used it to justify letting others do the hard work. I’d rather have been indoors with a book and really never had the killer instinct in sport. (To this day I wonder if de Courbertin was, in fact, British, it’s such a British thing to have said).

But what the nation rediscovered during the Olympics is that winning feels GOOD! Far from craving disappointment, we started craving medals.

What we need to do now is bottle that desire to win for our businesses, institutions and communities. And for ourselves, personally. If ‘winning’ feels a little un-British away from the Olympian frenzy, remember this:

  • Winning over here does not necessarily create a loser over there
  • Behind every winner is your team of experts – ignore them at your peril
  • The road to winning is paved with many hard lessons learned in defeat – take them as gifts
  • You will only ever win if you really, truly want to, with all your heart

Great outcomes in life – in your business, your career, your personal life, your academic study – always begin with your beliefs. How much do you want this, and how much do you believe you can get it? Once you are certain of those things, then you’re ready to plan, train and execute.