What I learned from the most famous person you’ve never heard of.

– www.affinity-automation.com, May 2016

I was very excited about my peer group meeting in London yesterday. I was one of only eight like minded professionals fortunate enough to have an audience with one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever met. And yet I didn’t know this person, had not heard of him before and didn’t even know what he looked like.

I did however know him by one of his notable achievements. I was about to be educated in a number of others which culminated in an emotional, inspirational and thought provoking experience.

The notable achievement I refer to was his part in the success of the England World Cup Rugby team in 2003. (Perhaps you remember – the clock had run down past the 80th minute, Johnny Wilkinson is passed the ball and proceeds to drop kick the winning points; securing England into the history books and setting about sporting inspiration for the nation)

I know you are thinking Sir Clive Woodward but you would be wrong. Sir Clive in his wisdom built a winning team of people around him, one of whom was none other than Humphrey Walters. “Who?” I hear you cry… that was what I thought too. For those of you who know of Humphrey you can skip the next paragraph; for the uninitiated, let me enlighten you and then I’ll get to the point of my excitement.

The list of world class teams he has worked with and helped shape is impressive stuff:

Part of the Ocean Rover team who completed (survived) the BT Global Challenge dubbed the world’s toughest round the world yacht race
Sir Clive Woodward and the England Rugby Union World Cup Winning Team
Sam Allardyce and Bolton Wanderers FC (helped keep them from relegation)
British & Irish Lions Rugby
GB Olympic Judo Team
GB Olympic Swimming Team
Chelsea FC
Swansea FC
Surrey CC team
JCB land speed record for a diesel engine team
Mercedes Petronas F1 team

OK – I think you get the picture.

So what was it that drove me to share this experience with you?

Firstly, although the lessons Humphrey referred to were contextualised for business, these were in fact life lessons.

It was his insight into the world of the winning mind-set. An insight most of us are not exposed to and only glimpse from afar in the achievements of our heroes (sporting or otherwise)

The inspiration comes in the fact that actually, winners either in sport, business, the arts or any other discipline are actually just like us “mere mortals”. What makes them winners is their ability to channel a winning mindset to achieve that which others either give up on or do not think is possible.

I want to share my five key takeaways from the experience that really resonate with me. I’m sure you know all this stuff but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of them:

“Make the second effort” (I love this turn of phrase and have been searching for a way to express it for a long time – thanks Humphrey). Meaning when you think you are spent, exhausted, out of ideas, out of options and want to give up – that’s the point you push on through the pain. (It reminds me of my last marathon)
“Concentrate on what you are good at; not what you’re not”. (Winning athletes don’t spend most of their time improving weaknesses; they focus on making their strengths world class)
Make small incremental improvements to become world class. (In sporting terms 1/100th of a second can be all it takes to win)
“Take responsibility for your own success”. Stop blaming everyone and everything else for your lot and don’t expect success to find you. (You’ll be long dead waiting for it to be handed to you)
“Concentrate only on what you can control”. Too many of us worry about the competition, external influence, the if’s and but’s, the things we have absolutely no control over. This detracts from us making an impact because we are too distracted.

If I relate this all back to what I am good at – Recruiting great candidates for great organisations. All of the above would be excellent advice for both hiring firms and prospective candidates. Read them again – what do you think?

Final thought… I have a young family (a Daughter and Son) who I hope want for nothing in life and fulfil all their dreams. The trouble is unless they make use of the sage advice Humphrey gifted to me (and now me to you), I believe they will fall far short of their potential. I can promise you those wise life lessons and the many others Humphrey shared with me yesterday will be well planted in the development of “Team Salt” for their future success. Watch out world!

www.affinity-automation.com, May 2016