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5:00 AM 30th January 2021
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Saturday Essay: Ten Inspirational Insights From Champions For Lockdown

Former England cricketer takes a look at Ten Inspirational Insights from Champions for Lockdown

No matter how resilient you are, the latest lockdown feels like starting a marathon with tired legs.

Our natural optimism that starts when the calendar clicks over into a new year was burst within days. The uncertainty remains – When can we see our friends and loved ones? When will our economy bounce back and - Will the vaccines be able to squash Covid-19 variants for good?

While the health and financial statistics are easy to measure, the burden on our mental health remains a strong but growing threat.

As a former England cricketer, I know that my mindset was often the difference between my best and worst performances. On a balmy night in Calcutta in 2001, I choked under pressure in front of 120,000 people. Despite the noise of this massive crowd, the loudest voice was in my head.

This set me off on a fascinating research quest – to find out how the world’s best performers think under pressure. After completing an MSc at Loughborough I retired from playing to support some of the biggest names in International sport including South African cricket, Premier League football teams and England Rugby.

The team and I at Sporting Edge have spent the last decade researching the mindset needed to thrive in adversity. We have interviewed the world’s leading thinkers and performers to understand how they recover from setbacks and keep their motivation during their most challenging times.

Our video interviews with experts from business, neuroscience, performing arts, military and elite sport are inspiring thousands of executives and entrepreneurs to strengthen their mindset during lockdown.
Here are eight insights to help you to stay motivated while working from home:

1. Eddie Jones – England Rugby Coach explains that we need to set ‘inspirational long-term goals that redefine the way we are perceived and the way we perceive ourselves’. What long term goal can you stay emotionally connected to? How would you like your career, skills or company to be different in a year from now?

Sir Dave Brailsford
Sir Dave Brailsford
2. Sir Dave Brailsford – elite cycling coach builds on this explaining that ‘Anyone can have dreams, but we need to break those down into tangible targets and behaviours so that we identify what is needed to achieve them. Our performance comes from consistency of our daily habits and discipline not from our dreams. What does a gold medal day look like for you today? Which three priorities will make you feel satisfied and show you are making progress to your goals?

3. Dr Tara Swart renowned neuroscientist encourages us to ‘reconnect with our past successes in times of self-doubt and use those positive lessons to give us the courage to keep going.’ Revisit a time when you last performed well in a difficult personal challenge - what strengths did you use to achieve this?

John Coates
John Coates
4. John Coates PhD – a former trader on Wall Street turned neurobiologist explains ‘Novelty, uncertainty and uncontrollability activate our primitive stress response” We need to stay calm by focussing on what is in our control: our self-talk, our daily wellbeing choices and spend less time catastrophising the pandemic’s next move as we can’t control that.

5. Campbell McPherson – bestselling author of ‘Change’ suggests that ‘Avoiding victimhood is a key step in embracing change, we need to reframe the situation so that we consider our options and take control rather than falling into a helpless state’ How can you think like the CEO of your own company – every decision you make today either elevates or reduces your share price?

6. Annabel Croft – former GB No1 tennis star reinforces the need to build a world class support team around us. ‘Andy Murray is seen as a champion in an individual sport but he carefully picks his support team to give him whatever he needs to be at his best’ Who’s in your dream team? How can you spend more time with the people who energise and support you during this period? Who can you support – empathy and relationships are the key during these challenging times.

7. Professor Guy Claxton – expert in skills development and learning explains that ‘We all have our natural rhythm, some think best in the morning, others in the late afternoon’. Working from home brings many competing demands so how can you arrange your day into focused 45min blocks of work and 15 mins downtime with defined endpoints to ensure you don’t burnout.

Anna Hemmings
Anna Hemmings
8. Anna Hemmings – former Olympian reminds us to stay active ‘Resilience doesn’t mean being stubborn and working relentlessly – I experienced burnout and I don’t want to go there again’ How can you build exercise into your daily routine to get the huge physical and emotional benefits it brings? Can you leave your yoga/running gear by the bedroom door to make it easy to choose the healthy habit – you’ll feel 1-0 up before the day begins.

9. Baroness Sue Campbell – former Chair UK Sport explains that the great Olympians are defined by their resilience and tenacity. ‘When you think about some of our great performers, they just keep bouncing back after every setback and after a decade they achieve their moment of success’ How can you judge yourself on your commitment and tenacity during times when wins and celebrations seem far away? Staying committed now will provide your moment in the spotlight down the line.

10. Ahmed Kathrada – fellow prisoner with Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island for 26 years. His story of optimism and resilience is a true inspiration ‘When our boat arrived on the prison island an inmate wrote on the wet concrete ‘ANC will surely win – 1967. That gave us hope throughout the dark times and when we walked past that rock 26 years later as free men, it was wonderful feeling’ Their purpose to overthrow the apartheid regime kept them going during isolation – what impact do you want to have and how can you use that to stay motivated during periods of isolation?

All our interviewees have excelled in the face of adversity but that doesn’t mean it was easy. Any successful career calls for patience, optimism and adaptability. In 2021, tenacity is the new talent and our ability to keep adapting and finding new ways to approach the challenges we face will be critical. Our mindset is the corner stone of our choices and behaviour and as a result, it holds the key to our success.

Jeremy Snape
Jeremy Snape
Jeremy Snape is a former England cricketer with an MSc in sport psychology. He has worked with an interviewed some of the biggest names in world sport as well as being a sought after keynote speaker and corporate coach – his top 3 podcast ‘Inside the Mind of Champions’ www.sportingedge.com/podcasts shares more interviews with top stars and his membership platform offers over 600 x two-minute video interview insights is available free for 30 day’s using the code ‘INSPIRE21’ www.sportingedge.com/membership These insights and strategies can be used for personal use and by managers looking to inspire their remote workforce via Zoom and MS teams.
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