The Hurt

The Hurt Issue 1: Will it make the boat go faster?

The Hurt Make the Boat Faster

The Hurt is a (mostly) weekly column related to performance, mindset, health or something to motivate you to put the hurt on whoever needs it. If you need a kick in the backside or just a little extra pick me up then The Hurt has got your back.

The Great Britain men’s eight rowing team wasn’t always very good.

Leading up to the 1999 world championships the best result they had in competition was 5th place.

And what made things worse is that others in the GB rowing team were regularly winning Olympic gold (Sir Steve Redgrave won 5 consecutive Olympic golds between 1984 and 2000).

Yet in 1999 they took silver at the world championships.

Followed by gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. 

So what changed exactly?

One simple question.

“Will it make the boat go faster?”

Once the team started asking themselves this question they started to focus on what mattered the most.

Every single action they took from the kit they chose to the training they underwent was passed through that question.

“Will it make the boat go faster?”

And that’s what made the difference between never making the podium versus standing on top of it.

The best part is that this simplified approach can be applied to any part of our lives.

Trying to lose weight?

Ask yourself if what you are doing is helping this or not.

Want to run a PB?

Ask yourself if your training and diet is moving you closer or not.

Know that you need to improve your food choices?

Look at what you can add to your diet that can have a big impact on your health.

Want a promotion?

Ask yourself if what you are doing day to day is helping you or holding you back?

It can be easy to blame external things affecting our abilities to achieve our goals.

We convince ourselves that the new watch will help us track our training more accurately and that this will move the needle.

Or that it is Johnson in accounting who is holding us back.

When in reality we gain far more from focusing on what we can control versus what we can’t.

And that’s the beauty of a question such as “Will it make the boat go faster?”.

It strips away the nonsense and refocuses us on what will really move the needle.

If you want to learn more about the GB Men’s Eight Rowing team and the approach they took then the above was inspired by the book “Will it make the boat go faster” by Ben Hunt-Davis. The book goes deeper into the goal setting lessons they learned from that period. You can get it from most retailers.


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