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Mentality – Going from Performance to High Performance

Published on: 21 July 2017

As a recruitment professional and an amateur (very amateur) sportsperson I have always been interested in what makes the difference in going from good to great, performance to high performance or between winning and losing and I always seem to have the same answer: “mentality”.

I have always been interested in the how the psychology applied by high performing athletes and high performing sports teams can be applied to business and, more recently, the effect a certain mentality can have on individual and team performance.  According to the Collins English Dictionary mentality is described as ‘your attitudes and your way of thinking’ which led me to think how a winner’s mentality in the sporting arena could be reflected in someone’s working life, career or their team. Could the adoption of a similar mentality take an individual or team from performance to high performance, or good to great?

To further investigate and satisfy my amateur occupational psychology hypothesis, I started to make a list of sports people and teams which I admired, finishing with a list of:

  • Team Sky
  • Steven Gerrard
  • Roy Keane
  • The All Blacks
  • Haile Gebrselassie


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After finishing my list I started to find quotes, read books and articles, watch interviews or just observe them to see how their mentality affects them in the field of play and what they think regarding mentality of individuals and teams.  Having listened to, read about and watched these worldclass sports stars it led me to think about how these examples could be used in the business world.

Team Sky

Sir Dave Brailsford when he took over at Team Sky talked about his belief in the concept which he referred to as the “aggregation of marginal gains” which he later explained as “the one percent margin for improvement in everything you do” as his belief was if Team Sky improved every area related to cycling by just one percent the small gains would add. Brailsford searched for the one percent and in his search they changed the rider’s pillows and took them to hotels wherever they raced, even teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to reduce infection.  This pursuit of marginal gains made me think about what are the one percents which an organisation can change to achieve success? By making small improvements great things can happen, for example greater flexibility in working hours, working from home, funding for studies, the list of options is as long as an organisation wants it to be but these can be an employee or a team’s one percent.

I’ll be writing another piece on Steven Gerrard, Roy Keane, The All Blacks and Haile Gebrselassie over the coming months and so if you enjoyed this article I would welcome any feedback or comments you may have.

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