If, like me, you were glued to your screen for 27 minutes on Friday night as Sir Mo Farah produced what the experts have subsequently described as his greatest ever 10,000m major championship win, you would no doubt have been enthralled by the tactical battle and the ultimate determination to win.
The race itself and subsequent analysis from the trackside experts Steve Cram and Brendan Foster spurred me to think about what as business owners and managers we could learn from Mo’s triumph. So here are a few thoughts and ideas which I hope you will find useful:
Cram and Foster made mention several times of the meticulous preparation Mo undertook, not only the quantity and quality of his training – note the fast 400m runs – but also the focus on race tactics including those of his competitors desperate to try and find a way of beating him. In business preparation is a vital component of success particularly when we are looking to win new business, or grow the spend of an existing client whilst being aware of what our competitors are up to and how they might react to whatever we do.
For much of the race Mo was happy to sit towards the back allowing those in the front to dictate the tactics and pace.
In business we often don’t have enough patience – we just want to ‘get the deal done’. Sometimes taking our time to build a relationship with a potential customer can prove to be the most lucrative medium/long-term approach. As the prolific American business podcaster Brian Burns says ‘It is best to go slowly to a Yes than be racing to a No’.
There were times during the race when Mo suddenly put on a spurt and pushed himself right to the front. According to Foster and Cram this was to remind those at the front of the race that he was around, that he was in good shape, and that their tactics to try and see him off weren’t working. In business we need presence (usually in the form of personal contact or marketing messages) to remind our existing customers of the great things we do, and to ensure potential customers are aware of us and the benefits they will enjoy by working with us.
On the first lap Mo was urging the crowd to get behind him knowing that their support could be the vital extra ingredient he would need on that final lap when he was going for gold. The crowd’s response was tremendous. And as soon as he crossed the line he was seeking out his family and others who had supported and encouraged him throughout his incredible journey. In business we need people to help us succeed whether they be members of our team, our family or the people we turn to when we need advice and support. Successful people usually have a great team behind them. Let’s make sure we recognise and acknowledge our teams.
Remember that moment on the last lap when Mo stumbled into the kerb and for one horrible split-second it looked as though he might fall over? Fortunately he recovered brilliantly as he had done on three previous occasions during the race when he accidentally got tangled up and could easily have fallen over. Mo dealt with those problems and didn’t allow them to prevent him from achieving his goal. In business there is rarely a smooth passage to success and those that are successful are often the ones who are best at handling the problems and issues that they face and not allowing those problems to distract them from the pursuit of their end goal.
When Mo Farah won double Olympic gold in 2012 it was an amazing achievement. But winners like Mo don’t sit on their victories but persist in their pursuit of greater success. Being persistent in business is not always easy as you have to constantly maintain your energy, drive and enthusiasm but like with Mo being persistent will bring its rewards.