One of my first jobs was as a groom for Olympic equestrian rider Ian Millar at Millarbrook Farms in Perth, ON and his horse Big Ben. During that ‘bootcamp’ of my life, I learned a lot in a very short period of time that became the start of my transferable skill set.
Each time I had the responsibility of handling Big Ben, the most amazing horse that ever lived – (only slight exaggeration here) – I knew that at the end of the lead was a beautiful beast that was worth more that I might ever earn in my lifetime. Was there some pressure there…just a bit for a young graduate, all of twenty years old.
During my time at MillarBrook, I learned to listen and observe the masters. Before each competition, I would watch Ian walk the course. It was only many years later that I caught a glimpse of what he was doing. Each step he took, he would imagine him and Ben coming round the corner, down the course, over the jump… He mapped out his ride and win, in his mind.
Years later, I found the work of Dr. Maxwell Maltz which began to my interest in psycho cybernetics. It reminded me of how Ian would prepare for a competition. Essentially it is a visionary technique still very much used today by elite athletes to help them improve their performance. The professionals call it ‘theatre of the mind’ techniques.
Big Ben and Ian were a team and they loved working together. You could just tell. Big Ben, aka Bennie, was a horse but I’m telling you – he knew he was a champion. To watch him soar over a jump thirteen feet high with grace and precision was a sight to behold. Folks in the inner circle knew Big Ben was a last minute purchase and was going to be called ET because he was not the ‘most handsome’. What I learned working with both Ian and Bennie was that they believed they would attain the international success that they earned.
Pre-conference sessions are to a meeting’s success as the practice of psycho cybernetics is to Olympic athletes: it helps everyone work through the details and see the finish line. According to the science, your personal belief that it is possible, is the critical ingredient.
In 2009, one year before the Vancouver Olympics, the Canadian broadcasters launched the ‘Believe’ campaign. At the end of the thirteen months, the medal count resulted in an all-time record for the most gold medals ever won for Canada. Is an amazing conference with high performance just ‘lucky’ or were there a number of champions cheering everyone on? Who are the champions in your organization that hold the vision?
UPDATE: This blog was 90% written before my one week Centered Leadership training at the Banff Centre last week. Interestingly (coincidentally), I didn’t know that the course would engage us to write our own personal vision statement down – on paper. While it took me a few days for the words to form, I am proud to have finally captured my vision for The Howes Group. As soon as our graphic designers Lindsay and Jason take a breath to welcome their first baby – we will post this vision statement on our website. Welcome Baby Machinski!