Goldie Sayers and her Winning Attitude
As a three-time Olympian and British record-holder for the javelin, I was honoured to be asked to contribute to Zircon’s white paper on The Winning Attitude alongside other Olympians, CEO’s, Business Leaders and West End stars.
The white paper and its research looked to understand the key ingredients that make up a Winning Attitude. Whilst many people are talented and have strengths that help them to succeed, real success requires much more than just talent. The research aims to identify the core differentiators for this success and the extent to which an individual’s state of mind and attitude is the key to unlocking the ability to reach their full potential.
As an athlete I could identify with every Winning Attitude – Burning Ambition, Dogged Determination, Realistic Optimism, Unwavering Belief, Intrinsic Generosity, Mutual Respect, Maximising Opportunities, Disruptive Thought, Constant Curiosity and Single-Minded Focus – at certain points of my career, but there were certainly a few that I identify with as key factors in achieving my sporting goals.
From a very young age I had the Burning Ambition to compete for my country at sport. I was always a keen team sport and ball games player, playing netball, hockey and tennis for my county. But it wasn’t until I was 12 when I was handed a javelin to take home over the school Easter holidays that my career in athletics started. I maximised the opportunity by practising for hours with my javelin in the garden as I was transfixed with how I could get this very awkward implement to fly as far as I could. Having returned to school and won the district Championships, I was entered into the County Schools’ Championships where I was introduced to my first coach by my school PE teacher. After three weeks of training with him at the club, I had improved ten metres and went on to win the English Schools’ Championships. From there, I set myself the goal of competing for England. When I had achieved that, it was a British vest that I set my sights on. After I had achieved that goal, my ambition was to become an Olympian. Eight years after I was handed the javelin to take home over the school Easter holidays, I was walking out into an 80,000 seater capacity stadium at my first Olympic Games in Athens. And after 12 years in the sport, I had achieved my ultimate goal of winning an Olympic medal at the Beijing Olympics.
Whilst I achieved many of my goals, I did have to overcome a lot of adversity along the way. I have had eight operations over the course of my career, but I had the Dogged Determination to not only overcome the setbacks, but to come back stronger from all of them. I always saw injuries, whilst often out of my control, as an opportunity to work on areas of my performance that I wouldn’t normally have had time to. I was told twice by surgeons that I would never throw again but I was always determined to prove them wrong, and on both occasions, not only did I get back to competing but threw further than I had ever done post-surgery.
As an athlete competing at the highest level, it does take a vast amount of Single-Minded Focus to achieve success. Everything you do as an athlete is planned in order to be at your best at the Olympic Games and every area of your life has to be aligned to your goal. From daily training, nutrition, sleep, lifestyle and even the amount of time spent on your feet in your down-time is looked at in terms of performance. The amount of time spent performing in an Olympic stadium can be as little as 13 seconds in my event, but the amount of training hours over an Olympic cycle can total over 7000, so there has to be a single-minded focus and burning ambition in order to put in that kind of work and enjoy that kind of pressure.
It has been really interesting delivering this research with Zircon and I am excited to see their assessment tool in practice to help develop a Winning Attitude in the workforce of the companies that they work with.
What I have always found most interesting in sport is that it is not necessarily the most talented that fulfil their potential but those who are the most open-minded and positive who succeed. Luckily, a Winning Attitude is within your control.
Written by Goldie Sayers, Olympic Athlete and all around star!!