Great performers employ CI

There’s a direct read-across between how the best in business emulate the best in sport

In an article in The Times, Matthew Syed asks ‘What separates greats from wasted talents?’:

  • “Great athletes are hyper-confident – they don’t believe they have any weaknesses – they cannot be beaten – they’re already perfect and so cannot continually improve” – e.g. Mohammed Ali, world heavyweight boxing champion
  • “Great athletes are humble – they’re forever conscious of their weaknesses and this drives self-improvement – they recognise perfection can never be reached” – e.g. Jonny Wilkinson, England rugby fly half

So he asks whether arrogance or humility is best

The answer is both – humility when in private, self-assurance when in public

Humility is needed off the field when evaluating and working on weaknesses, often driven by ‘the fear of failure’ – aka CI (Continuous Improvement) in order to compete more successfully and so win more games or business

And self-confidence is needed when on the field, about ‘to rumble’/ take action/ do the business

Eric Cantona and David Beckham from Manchester United’s football team are named as good examples of the mix

Syed’s main conclusion is that sportsmen and organisations cannot forever believe they know-it-all and are unbeatable – when off the field, they must always be reviewing whether and how they might improve – however, when on the field they must always believe they will win and not suffer self-doubt

According to Cristiano Ronaldo, footballer with Real Madrid: “You can always get better – everyone can improve”

The same applies to all businesses in all sectors, public as well as private

At present, like in sport, the best organisations, the champion 20% premier league players, employ various versions of this CI approach and so enjoy many of the huge benefits on offer

But the rest – the other 80% also-rans – do not and so seal their own fate



1 comment

    • Tamsin Stanley on 2 November 2017 at 4:53 PM
    • Reply

    Interesting analogy!

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