Another letter from the DOC – March 2008

Over the last month and a half I have had the opportunity to listen to two very inspirational speakers that have visited conferences held at the National Golf Centre in Woodhall Spa. Both are in a league of their own. Sir Clive Woodward spoke at the EGU Coaching Conference about how to create a winning mindset and then Dr Frank Dick OBE visited the EGU Golf Development Conference to speak about coaching and working in partnerships. For readers outside the UK perhaps I should add that Sir Clive was the England rugby coach from 1997 through to capturing the World Cup in 2003. Frank was the Director of Coaching (yes, another DOC…) for the British Athletics Federation during 20 years when the sport probably had its most successful period so far. Since then both Clive and Frank have gone on and continued to be involved in coaching as well as building bridges between sports and business.

One thing that struck me from listening to both of these very inspirational men is how often we lose ourselves in hunting for victories. Of course we want to win in sports and of course we want to make more money than other companies in the same business, if that is what we do. The only thing we can control though, is our own performance and how well we do compared to how well we could do. When Clive speaks he talks about how he metaphorically cleaned the garage when he took over the England job. Everything that was in the garage was taken out and the only things that could go back in there were the things that would contribute to making England as good as they could be. In other words he and his associates looked at every little detail of what was currently being done and either improved on it or left it as it was if it already was as good as it could be. I know absolutely nothing about rugby but Clive’s book ‘Winning’ is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. It is not a book about rugby, it is about people and improving their performance.

What I remember most of all from Frank Dick was when he spoke about a little girl he had come across when working in schools in Scotland. She was running 100 metres and at her first attempt managed to do it in 19 seconds. She did not win the race to put it that way and was very disappointed and sad that she could not do better. I am sure we have all both seen it and felt it and the question is, obviously if we can turn around from being upset, by comparing us with others to focus on what we can do to be the best we can be. Have you ever heard of Steven Bradbury? Steven is an Australian short track speed skater who became famous for winning the Gold Medal in the 2002 Olympics. It wasn’t just the fact that he won the race though. The way he did it probably beats the set up of any Hollywood production. God bless ‘You Tube’ because if you can’t remember it – here it is: –

You probably did not notice the guy who finished second? He was actually the favourite for the whole race and managed to come in second by being the best he could be in the situation he was in. Play the film again and check how he stretches his leg just to get the heal across the finishing line lying on his back…

Have you ever felt that you have wanted to win so desperately that when crunch time has come you just have not been able to do it? Most of us probably have no matter if it is in sports, business or at a test in school. Would we win more if we became better at being the best we can be every minute, hour or day of our lives? Most probably. So tonight when you go to bed – how would you rate yourself today on a scale where 10 is the best you can be?

Whether Daniel Willet was the best he can be in Spain last week I don’t know. He ended up as the Spanish Amateur Champion anyway and apart from in the stroke play qualifying he never saw the 18th hole. None of his opponents managed to take him past the 17th, which is pretty impressive.

In the US Luke Donald was just pipped at the post by Ernie Els in the Honda Classic on the PGA Tour. Luke finished second in a tournament that actually had another two English players (Brian Davies and Justin Rose) in the top 15.

Best regards,


“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving… and that’s your own self.”
-Aldous Huxley

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