Forget benchmarking and adhering to best practice, if this is your standard you will reach the same level of mediocrity as everyone else. If you want to achieve excellence don’t follow the pack, lead the pack. Raise the bar and forge a new path. Don’t dumb down your expectations and goals and the means of achieving those goals. Increase the demands on yourself, your staff and your athletes; raise expectations and the measure for achievement.
In high performing teams there is a high level of discomfort. It is OK to be uncomfortable. To be the best is not always a warm fuzzy feel good environment. High performance is pushing the envelope; you must constantly operate outside your comfort zone. As soon as you allow yourself and your athletes to get comfortable, to be satisfied, the competition will sprint past you.
So how do you do it? You must have a great routine, bordering on ritual. You train with precision and exactness, with attention focused on Key Result Areas (KRA). KRA’s are the tasks that yield results. You don’t have to outwork the opposition; you have to outsmart them. You need to focus on your athletes, not the competition. It is only your athlete’s and your situation that you can control. Focus on what they can do. Optimize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Fit the training to the athlete and the sport demands rather than forcing training on them that does not fit either them or the sport.
You certainly can’t do it alone. Assemble the best performance team possible and let them do their jobs. Make sure they know what their jobs are. Set measureable standards for them. Praise effort and process, the outcome will follow. Focus on goal achievement, not goal setting. Make sure it is not a team of clones and drones. Include people with varied skills and different ideas who will speak up and challenge each other to achieve at a higher standard. Forget facilities, gadgets and machines, put the spotlight squarely on people who can do and want to. Use technology to support what you do, not to supplant what you do. The eyes, ears, and feelings of good coaches, administrators, physio’s, sport scientists, groundskeepers, and receptionists – all contribute. Value all of them. They all help make the athlete better and create an environment where champions are inevitable.
Doing all this can be lonely at times. There are times in the journey when you and your team will doubt. The athletes will doubt. Acknowledge that doubt, address the doubt and move forward to toward the goal. Baby steps are OK, just do everything in your power to insure that the baby steps are moving forward toward the destination.
If you do all of this at the culmination of the journey, regardless of the result you can rest assured that you and your team did everything in your power to achieve the ultimate goal. No regrets, no second thoughts, no looking back, that is how you build excellence step by step.