Setting targets and going for team gold

I’m sure you are enjoying the Olympics as much as we are, here in the Meades & Co office. It has been great watching the GB team rise to the occasion and keep pushing the boundaries as they set off towards their target of 48 medals. The target was set by UK Sport purely on the basis of beating the previous best of 47 for an away-Olympics; set in Beijing, in 2008. I find this to be an interesting motivation…

You on a good day!

A great way to motivate yourself is by aiming to improve your personal best. You simply create a picture of you in your finest hour or think back to your previous highest performance and be determined to go one better. The powerful psychology here is that you already know that you can get to that level. It is not as though you are trying to beat a target or a person that you have never got anywhere near before. Aiming at an achievable high is always a smart goal to set.

The danger, however, is that you settle for something less than you actually could have achieved. I suspect, therefore, that the unspoken target for the GB team this year is a little bit higher than 48. As it happens (at the time of writing), our magnificent sporting heroes have already topped 50, with five days to go: and they are now gunning for the target set at our home-Games in London four years ago. So far, it has been quite a remarkable achievement.

What is the secret?

Listening to the interviews and reactions of the competitors; there seems to be a universal feeling of unity and teamwork in the camp. It appears that mixing with top athletes from other sports and feeding off of their enthusiasm, positivity and successes is making the difference for so many of the others.

This is evident in the diversity of medals we have brought home so far. There are the dead-certs (or at least widely expected), like Mo Farah and Jason Kenny: but there have also been some highly unexpected results, like Sophie Hitchon (hammer) and the men’s rowing eights.

So the secret seems to be a mixture of setting realistic targets and working together as a team to achieve them. This combines the power of building on previous achievements with the collective strength of positive mental attitude.

For me, Chris Langridge, one-half of the unfancied British men’s doubles badminton team, summed it up after brilliantly securing a place in the semi-finals by beating a Japanese pair ranked in the top ten. Here are some of the comments from his BBC interview after the match.

“We’re not the most gifted or the quickest, but we work hard… we work well together and flow together as a team… when two people put their mind to something, anything is possible… this is insane, the semi-final of the Olympics… I’m well up for a medal.”

What is your limit and who can help you exceed it?

Do you set strong targets (achievable, believable and ambitious)? Maybe you don’t think you can push the boundaries on your own or believe that you genuinely have reached your limit. The obvious next step is to build a team or find a partner that can help to propel you to greater levels than you thought possible.