I fell in love with rowing the first time I got in a boat, but what drove me to take it as far as I did?
The answer is twofold.
I was motivated and driven by the progress I made. I was encouraged by the relationship between the work I put in and my improvements.
My team. Showing up for others and being a part of something bigger got me out of bed.
More than the medal, more than the Olympics, rowing with a crew and reaching our collective potential became the driving force. From the moment in 2001 when I first sat in a boat and was challenged with keeping it upright to my last World Cup race in March of 2013. It wasn’t just about the rowing itself. It was always about doing something bigger than myself, showing up for myself as well as my teammates.
When I try to explain my motivation for the sport I have answered the same thing hundreds of times because the answer has never changed for me. It was always about the people. Rowing is about something bigger than you. It is challenging for the individual, but the real trick is to get in sync with others and be willing to sacrifice, compromise and have your “hands in the fire” with 1-8 other people at any given time in a crew. I was not meant to scull in a single for long periods of time. It was too lonely. For me, the single it was nothing other than a vehicle to make it into a crew and or to get faster to make a crew go faster.
In the world outside of sport and in the workplace there are more moving parts. Everyone in the office isn’t working for a podium finish.
Every has different priorities and complicated layers to their lives outside of work, but regardless of this how is it that you can get a champion performance and athlete mindset out of your employees?
Individual and team goal setting leads to tangible and measureable success, which leads to engagement and motivation.
Accountability to one another.
It is important that everyone is setting goals for work performance and life. These should be realistic, tangible and measurable stepping-stones that contribute to a process and life’s journey. These may seem mundane and they should be. In rowing it might be squatting 100 kg from a starting point of 80 kg (more painful than glamorous) and in the workplace it might be going from managing 8 accounts to managing 10. This is an individual example, but there should also be team goals that the work place team can work towards. My suggestion would be to make some of these achievable within short amounts of time, so everyone stays engaged. Success and support to achieve these goals, as well as having a focus to put your energy toward is motivating and will keep everyone headed in the same direction – toward performance.
Secondly, having accountability to one another no matter what your rank is critical to working with others. If it doesn’t matter, people don’t show up with their best. The best teams have respect for one another, communicate and have the integrity to do what they say they are going to do. The communication of expectations and why it matters is key! In rowing, we didn’t go out on the water if we didn’t have 8 rowers and if someone didn’t show up it would affect us all and it wouldn’t be acceptable. Even if one of us showed up late it wouldn’t be acceptable. The team would not only get on the water late, but we would all have to listen to the “show up on time speech” and no one wanted to hear it again. Obviously stuff happens, but careless tardiness would be what I am referring to. It is not polite to leave people waiting, but if people don’t feel like their presence matters and they think that can sneak it, it sends the message that is acceptable. That is not high performance. Practicing this is small gesture says so much more than being on time. It says you are ready to show up and it matters. This behavior rubs off on others and it is what champions do!