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Are You Stacking the Deck Against Your Own Success?

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Lessons Learned From Wearing Catsuits

I was talking with a coaching client last week about the importance of having a very clear vision for what it is he wants to achieve in 2020. And why that vision needs to be crystal clear, and he needs to get excited about it, and how that will help him get through some of the challenges that he’s probably going to encounter this year.

I relayed to him a story from when I was managing Speedo New Zealand in 1992. I was managing that on behalf of Speedo Australia, and we designed the swimwear for the Australian and New Zealand Olympic swim teams that year. We came out with what was called the “catsuit” for the female swimmers. In fact, it went on to be copied by other countries around the world. This particular catsuit was a very different silhouette, a very different style. It was made out of a very specific, hydrodynamic material.

The swimmers that used this suit, a number of them went on to break world records. The general public saw that, and many female swimmers who were just at club level wanted to get their hands on that swimsuit because they’d seen the picture of what it looked like when ladies broke the world record and got out of the pool in this suit. It looked great!

But we had a problem: it was very specific material we used in that suit and at retail price-point levels would retail at least for $650. No retail outlet was going to purchase that suit to put out to the mass market. So, we had a problem. We had a demand for a suit, but we couldn’t explain to them, “Yeah, but this is material you’re never going to have a chance to purchase.” So, we made it in ordinary Lycra.

Now, relative to the drag coefficients between the hydrodynamic material and making the suit in ordinary Lycra, it increased the drag coefficient of the swimsuit astronomically. I mean, the suit was really like a textile brick, so to speak. There was way more material in it with the way it gapped and the way we had to make it for the general market. We weren’t going to design it and put all the tech specifications into it that we put into the Olympic swimwear. So that suit was going to be way slower than what our Olympic swimsuit was.”

Yet, amazingly, when we put it out to the market, female swimmers purchased the suit. We received a load of feedback thanking us for creating the suit for them and telling us about the records – the national records they were breaking and the club records they were breaking.

What was interesting was they had this picture in their minds of success in the suit, and so, to them, it was a fast suit. Yet it was incredibly slower technically, but that didn’t matter. Mentally and emotionally, they had seen a picture of what success in that swimsuit looked like.

It’s the same for us in our business: we have to have a clear picture of what success looks like. It doesn’t take long to do. I’m just encouraging you to play around with this picture for yourself for maybe fifteen minutes.

So,

  1. Have a clear picture about what it is you’re trying to achieve during 2020, this year.
  2. Take 5 to 10 minutes each day to look at this, to look at what you’ve written out, and consider what it is you’re going on to achieve.
  3. Most important, imagine how you’re going to feel when you achieve it.

Those young 10-, 12-year-old girls, when they saw those world records set in that swimsuit, for them, that’s what they wanted to experience. It didn’t matter how much drag that swimsuit was producing; they had a clear picture in their minds as to exactly how it was they wanted to feel.

I can’t guarantee you’re going to hit your objectives when you do write these out, but I can almost promise you you’re never going to reach your fullest potential until you have very clearly in your mind, that’s what you want to achieve. Set down a clear picture and go after it for the start of this year.

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