.02% CHANCE TO BE SUCCESSFUL
— by Andrew Russell
Recently I spoke at an MBA professional development session with the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University. It was an excellent experience, and I pulled from my experience in business, academics, and sport.
The goal was to tell my story and hopefully pass along some useful information and insights on how I’ve found success and how I’ve learned from the missteps along the way (because there have been plenty of those too).
One of the points I focused on was the importance of the "journey" and the pursuit of continual improvement. Each day, practice, training session, and presentation are learning opportunities to better ourselves and our craft.
I discussed at length how the key moments such as job interviews, big competitions, and key presentations are dwarfed by the body of work that enables them. It is important to understand this relationship so you’re prepared to shine when an opportunity presents itself.
To highlight this point I did some simple math based on one of my typical seasons of training in canoeing. The goal was to show just how important it is to learn how to drive performance in practice to maximize potential on race day.
Training Season Math:
A typical training week had 10 training sessions on the water.
Each of these sessions averaged out to roughly 60 minutes per paddle.
During these paddles (including rest periods), we would be completing roughly 35-40 strokes per minute.
An average season had 9-10 months of on-water training (in pre-Olympic years more time on-water was typical), or roughly 36-40 weeks of on-water paddling.
When you start to do some basic calculations you come up with some pretty staggering figures like a range of 750,000 to 1,000,000 strokes per season!!! Yikes, that is a pretty overwhelming amount of work.
Now let’s compare that to the average competition. In a C-2 final over 1000 metres (my event), you’d expect to take between 230-275 total strokes to complete the race.
Thus, as races were very important in deciding the opportunity to represent your country, earn a spot in a final, or win a medal- a race is a very small window of opportunity when compared to your training. In fact, a season of hard work could potentially be decided by a single final, which is as little as .02% of your season’s efforts on water.
If you consider the numbers in this fashion, it both overshadows the importance of the training and practice for the single event or moment. It’s important to shift focus to both respecting the importance of moments to come, as well as prioritizing the journey that enables them.
"....a season of hard work could potentially be decided by a single final, which is as little as .02% of your season’s efforts on water."
During all the training leading up to important opportunities is when you’re able to refine your craft. This is when you’ll be able to reinforce positive vs. negative habits, enhance skills, and showcase your capabilities day in and day out. Also, the confidence that comes with consistently enjoying yourself and building your abilities will enhance your prospective outcomes.
Next time you get overwhelmed with the .02%, remind yourself that there’s 99.98% room to grow, improve, and to enjoy that experience and make the most of it. You’ll feel better, and chances are you’ll end up performing better when it counts.
Yours in breaking down the numbers, and shifting positive energy and focus on the journey,