Changing and Challenging a Sporting Culture by Bill Sweetenham (2005)


I’d like to thank Chuck Wielgus for those kind words and feel quite humbled by his comments. I would also like to thank ASCA for the invitation to be here. It is always a pleasure. The lecture that I am about to give this morning – or the talk – will lead on to the next lecture that I am going to give, which will be about the psychology of swimming and the psychology of workouts. This lecture I would like to attribute to one of my colleagues, Terry Buck, who was several times the manager of the Australian swimming team. About eight months ago he prematurely lost his life in a tractor accident, mowing lawns for his daughter’s wedding the following weekend. So Terry, if you are listening up there, I have been enjoying and appreciating all the lessons you have taught.

In a changing world of short-cuts and instant gratification the challenge of coaching has never been greater, and the challenging situations that we find our self trying to work within- against sports that appear more attractive to young people, and that are financially more rewarding to senior people.

Twenty years ago, as a coach, you were working in tandem with society and working with it. Today we have a lot of young people that come to the pool by choice (it is always a pleasure and great to work with them- I have great empathy with them); however, many parents today condone and applaud cheating with their youngsters. I am not going to insult everybody, but how many times does a parent encourage his or her child to hurry and walk across a street where there is a “don’t walk” sign? How many times does a parent speed and break the speed limits in front of their children? How many times does a parent line up to go to a train, or to go to a fair, and when they see the sign ‘12 year olds free’ they immediately tell their 13 year old that they are only 12? How many of us tell a few “porky pies” on their tax return?

So in an era of taking shortcuts in pursuit of instant gratification, or unrecognized reward, we as coaches have to change that psychology and what part that plays in our pool. We are going to be tested to the limits in the guidance that we can give young people. We have to tell them that they can win with their strengths, and they are going to fall short with their weaknesses. We have to include them in a training program, a competitive arena. An arena where they are encouraged to give absolutely everything, and anything that they save or don’t give is completely wasted and lost. The objective, once we have children in the environment, is to encourage them to be superior in every possible way – whether it is in their swimming performance, behavioral performances, attitude, or education – that the objective of a swimming program is to encourage young people to be superior in every possible way that they can.

I go back to a few years ago when one of the high performance coaches of Australia asked me to come in and do an evaluation of his swim program. I jumped at the chance because I enjoy doing that sort of work. I arrived at his morning workout on a Tuesday morning – went to the session about half an hour early, and sat and watched. Forty-five minutes later I said to the coach – “I’m going to leave now, I am going. I have observed all I need to observe to tell you about your training program.” He then asked me how could I leave after only 20 minutes? I said that it was very easy, and did he want the evaluation now or to put it in writing? He said no – tell me now.

I said that basically he was coaching four swimmers and training twenty. There were four swimmers that morning that arrived early, stretched properly without being told, wanted to look at the workout, wanted to get themselves ready or mentally preparing and there were twenty that were there because it was Tuesday morning, and that is what they did on Tuesday morning. They went to the pool. They listened to the coach and they just did whatever they were told. They didn’t think or act outside the box. They were just there to make up the numbers.

You as a coach must challenge yourself – am I coaching athletes or simply training athletes? Am I an alive coach – a coach that is taking this athlete to the full extent of their capabilities and talent? In today’s world technical knowledge is a given. I don’t believe there are many coaches who are getting athletes to perform faster because they have greater technical knowledge; technical knowledge in the age of computers is everywhere. It is available to everyone. Technical knowledge today is a given. It is how, how often and how well that that knowledge is applied, and how it is delivered. The question you must ask yourself as a coach (and I continually ask myself) – do you change circumstance or does circumstance change you? Do you make things happen or do you respond to things once they have happened? So I ask all of to look at that, and ask yourself, do you control circumstance or does circumstance control you?

So I start the lecture with changing and challenging a sporting or business culture. I think it applies to your club, your area – it applies to a business. It applies to whatever group of people that you wish to work with. The end of the lecture finishes with the conclusion, which is the title of today’s lecture, ‘Changing and Challenging a Sporting Culture’. When you move into a new club or your new business, you promote and exploit existing strengths and maintain progress in these areas. If you move into a club that has great strengths in one area, you have to maintain that and ensure and protect it so that it continues. The next one is much, much more difficult. You have to remove all thinking and reasons for not achieving, and I believe seriously look at swimming worldwide. Swimming competitions have not changed for thirty or forty years – maybe longer. We are doing the same competitions. Are we being innovative? When we start to plateau with times on the world scene, and continue to have more meets and more meets, and see the same repetitious programs and times, will we maintain our numbers in swimming? Can you remove reasons why your athletes won’t achieve?

You have to look at the athletes or your business – are there reasons why it won’t achieve? Are you looking outside the box? There are many reasons that we have to look there. As a business, career people tend to be too concerned with attracting prizes and avoiding blame. It models their thought processes. It robs them of the courage to openly question the reigning corporate persona. People driven by ideas are different only in that they are more likely to say what they really think, even at the risk of being terribly wrong. As long as it means opening up possibilities, this is their main focus and theme. They don’t have more brains than career people – just fewer fears. Employers rarely, if ever, consciously hire troublemakers, mavericks, temporaries on loan, or rat bags (obnoxious people), despite the fact that such labels have been applied to virtually every great innovator in the history of the world. Do you have those people in your company? They will make a difference. If you can’t find creative thinkers and people at your place, hire some in. If you can’t hire them, borrow them. If you can’t borrow them, then date them. Do whatever it takes to get innovative, creative people into your organization.

We had a swimming club in a national program. Make whatever you operate your business, if you don’t, it won’t be long before another business down the road does what you do. If you are lucky (after they exploit the same things) they might come to you and offer you a reasonable price for your business and take it over. That is the best thing that can happen if you don’t think ahead of the game. Replace all thinking and reasons for not achieving with the very best people and systems you can find. What makes a difference in business is time at task, performance under pressure – every business has to do that. Also in managing emotions: getting nice level emotions, but under pressure. Then, you have to test to the limits. People, not machinery, make a difference. One creative person is far better than any number of machines that you can have in your business or organization. One creative person can change the whole persona of your organization. Once one does it many more will follow. Educate and empower, provide opportunity, provide leadership and encourage a unified, integrated, multi-dimensional team of people who will work for a common focus.

The important thing is to implement a time line on each of these facets, and that is the hard part. That is the most difficult. If you are going to change and challenge a business, a sport or your club you have to implement a time line, because you can’t spend forever trying to change any one of those opportunities. You have to do it quickly, precisely, effectively, and efficiently and it has to be done to a time line.

I have a slide over here – for those that aren’t aware – four weeks ago the whole of the British swimming offices were burnt to the ground. Nothing was left- we lost absolutely everything. However, in going through the fire I found one of my slides from an old lecture, and I thought I would put it up (you see the nice burnt and singed bottom on it there). Time is the psychological enemy of man. There is no question about that. You can do everything if you have forever to do it. It is time that makes the difference. It is our enemy, and if we can overcome time then we win. Thanks God.

Winning gives you a license. If you are successful it gives you a license to change, and be more effective, and work to much greater standards of change. If your club or your business is not allocating 15% of its resources to being creative and innovative then chances are you are going to get run over – either as a club or a business. If you are not giving 10% to change – chances are you will stagnate. In winning you can say “I would like – I will have – please give me”. If you don’t win you have to say “what can I have – what will you give me? Not what I would like and want”. So, winning is important. Remove reasons for not achieving.

Make sure there are no reasons why you can’t achieve, focus on what you are about to do, and then decide on an outcome. Focus on that outcome, and make sure all the people with you are focused with single mindedness on that outcome. In terms of integration, you must have integration within your group – be it a club or a sport. If you don’t have integration ‘point A’ has to be successful – whatever your objective is for ‘A’. ‘B’ has to be successful, but in most organizations or clubs you get ‘A’ and ‘B’ to be successful at the cost of ‘C’. You have to get your first objective (A) and your second objective (B) to be successful without detracting from C. If you focus on high performance swimmers in your club, the majority of the people in the club become disillusioned and dissatisfied and try to bring it down. You have to find a way to get A & B to be successful without distracting from point C.

In every swimming club that I have experienced and nearly every national organization, what really happens is the majority of members participating want to control the high level of achievement or success. The high level objectives of that organization become modified – so that the mass majority of the club or the organization tend to want to bring the high achievers back to their level of participation. They would rather not rise to the high level of commitment. To give you some examples of sinking to a lower level- in other words, if you don’t have a dog – shoot your neighbor’s – then you are both equal – neither of you have a dog, right? It would be much better to save and buy a dog. Another example- if your neighbor’s house looks better than yours – don’t struggle to build one that looks better – burn his down. This is the mentality that you have to operate against rather than align with. Success does not come cheaply.

Success is not cheap whether it is in personal commitment, in finance or in facilities – success is not something that comes to those who wait. Success has little to do with patience. Successful people are rarely patient people, and it’s unusual if they don’t commit high levels of resources. So in order for you to be a success- you cannot be successful working 20 hours a week unless you are an absolute genius. You have to put the hours in, you have to commit – you have to walk the extra yards. You have to do what others are not willing to do. You have to take risks, even calculated ones. No one ever wins without risking, not just financially but including finances. You only have one chance. You have to look at everything you do with the attitude that this is your only chance at that. Do not waste opportunity. Unsuccessful organizations are where people have many, many chances. You have to be prepared to put everything on one roll of the dice. Sure, you can calculate your risks and you can organize the opportunity to enhance the winnings from risk taking, but you have to look at this. You have to coach on deck every day like it was your last workout, and you have to enjoy it accordingly.

You only have a limited time – a time line. Everything in my opinion must be done to a time line, and yours must be quicker than the opposition. Understand that very few have done this before. Whatever you are challenging yourself to do – have high standards. Make sure it is something that you are going to be proud of, with a sense of pride as if people haven’t done this before. You need to be the world’s best- daily, hourly and all of the time, consistently. As a coach, you challenge yourself with “I want a coach on deck better than anyone else”. For this morning’s workout, affirm “ I want to coach better than I have ever coached before, and I want to coach better than anyone else in the world right now. I want to do it tomorrow and I want to do it the next day”. Then ask yourself if you will be a better coach tomorrow because of what you did or did not do right now, and if you challenge yourself with that all the time, it removes barriers.

You need to remove obstacles- you don’t want them. You don’t want things that will pull you back, be they people or rules or protocols. Find a way around the barriers or remove them. What does success look like? Business or sport? Well, win medals. If it is business, then success is about bigger profits. We all like to say success is personal bests and all of those things, but when it really comes to it we want to win medals. National and personal pride are the greatest motivators in the world. There is no question that personal pride is the greatest motivator, especially for young athletes, but so is national pride for an organization. If you make cars you’d want to make a Rolls Royce or a Ferrari. That is national pride. If you want to coach athletes, you want to have a program that you can at least start an athlete on their way to an Olympic gold medal. You might not take them all the way, but you take great personal pride in that you started that opportunity for a young person.

On the conduct of role models: you want people who set standards, the role models for a nation. You want people who have high achievement profiles on the international market. If you are in business you want a product that is going to be internationally recognized. On the perception of success: what is the perception of success? You have to control the media. You have to make sure that everybody understands what you think is the perception of your success. You want to be judged by your own standards – not by the standards of others.

On facilities, whether it is business or sport, you have to have a facility. It does not have to be a great facility, but it has got to be an adequate one. For management systems, you have to have a system of organization that is superior to anyone else; it has to be simple, effective and efficient. In finance where it makes a difference (in swimming today you can be successful with very limited finances) you have to have great opportunity.

In terms of retention- leakage (loss in the program or any organization) you need to consider a couple things. If it’s a club, one you have been in for a long time like twenty or fifteen years – ask yourself ‘How many swimmers have I taken the full journey to the maximum potential that that athlete can achieve’? Do this without rationalization, not saying “ oh they didn’t come to all the workouts or they were not motivated” -there are no excuses, right? It is just a total. Remember – a reason is an excuse and no excuse can be accepted as a reason. So, how many athletes have you taken the full length of their career, and taken them unconditionally to the maximum potential that they are capable of? A coach, like myself, who has been in it for many years – sometimes it is quite challenging for you, and sometimes disappointing to think of all the athletes you have coached, and how many you really, really took the whole way. How many good athletes did you lose along the way or didn’t recognize? How many athletes fell out of swimming or went to other sports? As a nation, as a national body, as a district, as a club, as a business – how many times did you waste money because you spent it on programs that didn’t provide and produce a result?

Leakage is important in talent -consistency of perfection. How often do you walk off deck and say that you gave unconditionally and totally your best today? This was my best ever coaching day in the world? I ask athletes – let’s take this female backstroker – I asked her– are you training and preparing today like the best backstroker in Great Britain? The answer was yes. Then I asked ‘are you training and preparing today like the best female backstroker in the world’? The answer was maybe. Why not? Are you practicing and training today like the best female athlete in the world in any sport? Why not? Why shouldn’t that be you? Are you training today ahead of and in front of every single athlete in the world? Why shouldn’t it be you? Give me reasons why that should not be you? Why shouldn’t you be the best person training in the world today? Give me reasons. Remove the reasons why that shouldn’t be you. And then do it consistently well, and eventually you are going to be what you desire.

Your training is going to be reflected in your podium performances. If you haven’t done it in the training pool – if you haven’t done it on the work floor, if you haven’t done it in the workshop, it will not be evident in the end product. Don’t train this way. An example: taper at some point differently and then try and perform at the competition. I see coaches and athletes that train like this all the time. Whatever their plan is, come the taper they change the recipe. The end results then immediately change because under pressure things change. Then the end result does not reflect what they did in taper or race, and it doesn’t reflect what they did in training. They live on hope rather than reality. Consistency of perfection, as related to the end result, is what you should be dreaming and desiring of. You win on your strengths, so if you always play your strengths then you fall short on your weaknesses.

Can you as a person make a difference with those who make a difference? If you have a great athlete who can challenge the world, who can be in the top two or three in the world – can you as a person and a coach make a difference with that athlete? Find a way that you can. Find an opportunity that you can deliver for that athlete an opportunity that they cannot access anywhere else. You make a difference. As a coach you can always look back and reflect on the things that you did, and say how do I do them better again? For me, personal satisfaction comes from when I have gotten an athlete, through my influence, to do something that they would not normally have ever done – they would not have done otherwise. That athlete and I both know that in their hearts I made a difference, I made a difference with that athlete. So, you must make a difference, it is you, you are totally accountable and responsible for the athletes in your care without condition or reservation. Put it on your screen site or put it in your notebook. Instead of saying “can you make a difference with those who make a difference” put down “you can make a difference with those who make a difference”.

Leadership: I was asked to do a definition of leadership, and I struggled with it, so I set it up as a challenge for our athletes at a training camp. I said, “I want every one of you to write down what leadership is”. It gave me great insight into our athletes at that camp. After reading all their input I came up with this: Leadership is providing direction and opportunity in all or every situation, and ensuring success for average people to achieve greatness, because of your influence and presence. You can make a difference with those who make a difference. I am sure you have all read the book, “The Power of One”. You can make a difference. Leadership is offering light and darkness. Leadership is showing someone the way when they are lost. Leadership is providing opportunity when none exists – you can do it.

So, we come to coaching. Coaching is convincing the willing and unwilling to give totally. Anything you save is wasted. Anything kept in reserve is lost. Coaching is convincing the willing – those that want to do it and those who do not want to do it. It is the old French Foreign Legion motto – sometimes you have to show people how to be happy and to be enthusiastic – every day on deck – are you the most enthusiastic person on deck? About doing what they might like or dislike – no one likes everything that you do at training. They like some things – they don’t like others, but you have to be enthusiastic about that and at any given point in time, not just when you feel good on any given day. It has to be there consistently well on every day. When you have had an argument with your partner you have to come to the pool and be enthusiastic, positive, motivational and fired up on deck. If you’re on an emotional roller coaster through your training, then the athletes will be the same and will respond accordingly. They have to respond in any given conditions, the conditions can’t dictate how you perform. You have to be able to perform whatever the conditions are, and you have to convince the athletes to achieve what they previously considered desirable or would like, but found impossible. That is to me is coaching and leadership, and everybody is capable of it.

In today’s world I have an argument with most places that I have worked in about coaching education. To me coaching education (that is delivered by nearly everyone) is done as a reflection of history rather than an insight into the future. How many coaching education courses that you know of talk about coaching into the future? How about coaching ten years from now? What would that take? Everything in coach education is a reflection. They have a thing in Great Britain called “best practice” and they have it other places as well. To me it is negative best practice, because best practice talks about what we have done in the past – not what we can do in the future. It talks about where we have been – not where we are going for competition – what we are preparing for.

So, now we know what coaching is – but what is competition? Competition is maintaining speed throughout the entire last half of the race without compromising efficient skills – in other words you do not maintain speed by losing stroke lengths, stroke rate, or compromising your breathing patterns. You do this under pressure from fatigue, from opposing athletes and by the clock, whilst knowing that the world and everyone that you respect and acknowledge are all observing you in this vulnerable position. This must be addressed every day, and at every workout in your training program, because that is what your athletes are going to have to do. You as a coach must have great empathy for that, and a great passion, and a great feel that you are taking and preparing athletes for this journey.

Something I stole from Mark Schubert is that you cannot live a perfect day without doing something for somebody who will never say thank you – a great coaching motto. Don’t ever, ever take up coaching because you think that that is not going to happen. I have worked with many young coaches, and many coaches on deck and I observe it all the time. Example- This coach has got young Freddie who only comes four sessions a week for an hour, and all his mates come nine sessions a week for two hours, and the school swimming gala is coming up (a swimming competition), and dad arrives at the pool and says “ Coach, Freddie needs to have some work done on his starts, can you help”? and the stupid coach does. What the coach should say is, “I am sorry, but Freddie is an only part time participant. I have too many athletes over here that are full time participants who I need to give my attention to first. I am sorry about it, but when Freddie comes nine sessions a week I would be more than happy to help him, but he is not exploiting the opportunities available to him right now. I need to give my time to those athletes who are giving their time to me”. This is easy to say but hard to do.

I have a business partner in Melbourne who was the head coach of track and field Australia – a great coach – coached Olympic gold medalists and he runs a business that I am involved with. We have several businesses and I keep arguing with him. First of all I tell him that track and field coaches only play around anyway, they only train three or four afternoons a week and not that seriously. When he goes to work every day he thinks about how do I pay for the teacher’s list, i.e. to put more swimmers in the class and reduce the class time by ten minutes. When I go to work every day I think, how can I work the swimmers harder, how can I get them to recover faster, put more effort in and get a better result – whatever the cost – however we would have to do it. Business and businesses do not like to hear this; they maximize profit with minimum of work or minimum of costs. All businesses refute that argument. Whenever I give a lecture to businesses like this they all want to argue with me; then I say to them- “Why is your factory headquartered in China?” Of course they cannot answer – they struggle with that. Why does your company employ school-aged children to produce hamburgers? It is cheap labor costs. So, business is maximizing profit with minimum work on minimum costs.

We as a group of coaches have to convince young athletes, and parents who volunteer i.e. as officials, to come to the pool and give totally maximum work for basically minimum gratuitous gains. However we do all believe that they get maximum gains in health, lifestyle, opportunity, and competitiveness. It’s a great way to start life, it’s important to understand and it works. (I usually put that one in there just to stir up the audience when I do this for businesses). In all companies, organizations, all swimming clubs; in every organization I have ever been in, efficient people in organizations get overworked and inefficient people are under-worked. If you want something done, give it to the busiest person in the office. If you want something done give it to the person who is always on the ball. Give it to the person who spends an hour of extra time in the afternoon doing the extra little bit.

Not all that is old is bad; it’s just that all that’s new need not necessarily be good. In today’s world we (I can’t believe we have not invented a square medicine ball yet) seem to come up with gimmicks to convince people that they are better off using them. I keep looking at late night television because I cannot sleep, and I am really tempted to want to use one of those exercise machines that tell me I could look Arnold Schwarzenegger in a week. I am sure they don’t tell lies and they are all truthful, but I just haven’t been able to convince myself that I can do that yet.

One of our great coaches in Britain recently sent me an article on his training. This coach had Olympic gold medallists (this article was 20 years old) and in it was training programs. The coach was Terry Dennison – he coached Olympic gold medalists Adrian Moorhouse and many others. So I took it and walked around a few decks and had a look at some training programs. The differences were minuscule, yet every coach thought that they were at the cutting edge – that they had something different and exceptional than every other coach. Very little, when you go back to the grass roots, has changed. The core – physical development of athletes, has not changed radically until you get to the very top cutting edge. So, just because it is old doesn’t mean it is bad, and just because it is new doesn’t mean that it is going to produce miracles.

Everyone, including me, through your life will have someone (or should have if you don’t) who will tutor and help you. When I was a young coach I started out full of arrogance and confidence and had immediate success, thought I knew everything there was to know about swimming. I thought, hell – I have this game beaten. I know it all and it wasn’t long before the fingers got burned, and I realized that there were some lessons that needed to be learned, and that it was a continuing process.

There was a guy named Travers who was the captain of the Australian rugby union team and a Rhodes scholar – an exceptional man – he gave me some pieces of advice that I still use today. I usually keep them to myself; this is the first time that I have put them up. It was the principles of war, and he said, “Bill, stick to these and apply them consistently well and you will get success, and the people that work with you will also achieve success”. He said the first one is to have a clear, identifiable and achievable objective. A clear identifiable and achievable objective. Next is to have security- make sure that you put things in place that will protect and promote the security of purpose of that objective. Don’t let it get lost and be watered down. Many of you old coaches – you all know it – you sit and plan your year’s workout and put a lot of thought into it. You’re meticulous in your planning. Then from the day you finish your plan every single person, or parent, that walks through your doors of your office or gets on the phone to you will be ringing you to try and get you to compromise that plan or to find a tangent to go off of it from.

I have an old friend in Australia, coach Johnny Carew. If you ever ring up Johnny Carew – it is an experience. Johnny is one of the old school- when you ring Johnny up, and he picks the phone up and says, “What do you want?” I said to him “that’s pretty charming” and he says “ no one ever rings me to help me, everybody rings me because they want something so I might as well just ask them straight up front what they want”. You can all relate to that as coaches – how many people ring you up and say, “Coach, can I come and help you? Can I come and do something for you, let me come and help you a bit”. So if you ever ring Johnny Carew, don’t be upset or insulted, but you will get the “what do you want?”

Surprise – the element of surprise is always important. Always try and have something new – something innovative, have a surprise up your sleeve every day when go to workout. If you coach the same way every day, day in and day out, you soon become boring. You have to be innovative, creative and have a surprise; and coach from the other end of the deck. You have to do things that are different. Ask your athletes what the workout will be this afternoon. Ask your athletes to describe what you will do when you come to the pool. If they can tell you, then change. It has to be creative and new. It has to have surprise in there. Everybody loves surprise, provided it is positive.

Flexibility – there are always other ways to do things. Have an open mind. Be prepared to open your mind and be flexible. Understand that your way is not the only way, that there are other achievable ways to do things. Mobility – make sure that you can have mobility in your program. Make sure that you can have a mobile program, so that athletes are coming from one group to the next. There is a double-up coaching methodology, alright? The young athlete going into the senior program is introduced slowly. The coach has a shared respect and a shared reward system from the athlete going from juniors to the intermediate, and the intermediate to the seniors; and that mobility in your program is always there.

Concentration of force – put your best effort into the highest area of reward, both for you, the athlete and the program. Your concentration of effort or concentration of force has to be driven where the results will be most forthcoming. I had a situation with a coach in Australia, Bernie Wakefield – great old guy – he coached Susie O’Neil initially – he had a great program. Bernie had a sprint- based program. I went to see him one afternoon at Chandler pool in Brisbane. I arrived late and he only had three swimmers in the pool; and Bernie was well on in his years. I said to Bernie, “ what are you doing with only three swimmers?” He said he was making these guys do the workout again because they mucked around during the session. I asked if they normally ‘muck around’ during the session and he said yeah. So I asked Bernie, “can I take over your workout for half an hour?” He said yes, so I got the three boys out, and asked them if their parents were out in the car? And they said yup, and I said I want you to go out and get them, don’t bother putting towels around you or anything like that – just run out in the cold – put up with that for a few minutes to get your parents. Ask them to come in and see me. The parents came in and I said to the boys “hop in and swim easy for a 200” and I said to the moms and dads – “have you paid your fees”? Two had, the other had not, so I got the two that had, I pulled them out and I said “you can go home now because the only thing that matters for you in this program is your paying for it, your boys aren’t contributing, they are just distracting the coach away from his concentration with force and effort”. Now to this other parent, I said, you have a choice – either you leave or pay your fees, okay? Now we would prefer (myself and Bernie) if you only came to three workouts a week now, all right? Why have people in your program who don’t want to be there? Take their money, pat them on the back, get them to do the minimum amount if possible so they or yourself find a coach that you don’t like, and send him down to his program. If you can’t change them, give them to someone else and let them destroy their program. Don’t have negative forces at play. With a bad apple, as soon as you throw one bad apple in the bunch it bruises the others, then within a couple of days they are all bad and you are fighting.

It is like when you select a team – whether it is club, district, national. If there are thirty swimmers, and out of 30 you select 29 right there and then, then spend two weeks arguing about the last one (who is not going to make a difference anyway), you waste energy. Make sure that your concentration of force is directed at your opportunity and avenue for success. Economy of effort: once again, try and practice efficient systems, whether they are management systems, coaching systems, operational systems, make it with the least economy of effort and maintenance of morale. Make sure that the maintenance of morale on your team is high, your team of staff, your team of athletes, your team of business leaders, right? And you can only do that if all of the above points are in place.

So, Travers, the old guy, he was captain of the Australian rugby team in 1936 (not that I was around then just in case anyone is querying my age) – I wasn’t around, but he was a great mentor to me. My advice is if you don’t have someone that you can bounce ideas off, seek advice and counsel from, then do it because it will save you a lot of heartache and aggravation along the line. So guys, I hope that you have gotten something out of this. If there is anyone here from New Orleans, my condolences – it’s certainly a sad state of affairs. Guy Edson told me this morning that the hotel, the Hyatt Hotel, where we had the last ASCA convention in New Orleans that I could attend, he told me that all the windows and glass had been blown out, and the hotel is just an absolute mess and full of homeless people. So for anyone in New Orleans – best wishes and sorry about the catastrophe.

Thanks very much – it has been a pleasure and I thank ASCA for the sponsorship.

Selected PowerPoint Slides


Promote and exploit existing strengths and maintain progress in this/these areas
Remove old thinking and reasons for not achieving
Replace with the very best people and systems
Time at Task
Performance under pressure
Managing emotions
Test to limits – people make a difference
Educate and empower – provide leadership – unified team
Implement a timeline on each of the above

Winning gives you licence!
Winning = “I would like”
Not winning = “What can I have?”

Remove reasons for not achieving
Focus on Outcomes
Integration –
“A” to be successful, “B” to be successful
“A” and “B” to be successful without distracting from “C”
Success does not come cheaply
“not only finance” but also include finance

You” only have one chance
“You” only have a limited time (timeline)
Very few have done this before
“You” need to be World’s best daily/hourly, all the time
Remove barriers

What does success look like?
Win Medals
National/personal pride
Conduct of Role Models (Role models for a Nation)
Perception of success (Media)
Management System
Finance (where it makes a difference)
Leakage (Funding, talent etc)
Consistency of perfection
Win on Strengths, fall short on weaknesses

Can you make a difference with those who make a difference?

LEADERSHIP is providing direction and opportunity in all situations and ensuring success for average people to achieve greatness because of your influence and presence

LEADERSHIP is offering light in darkness

COACHING is convincing the willing and unwilling to give totally, and to be enthusiastic about doing what they might like or dislike at any given point in time, in any given conditions, to achieve what they previously considered desirable but impossible

COMPETITION is maintaining speed throughout the entire last half of the race without compromising efficient skills of stroke length and stroke rate, breathing patterns etc, under pressure from fatigue, opposition athletes and the clock whilst knowing that the world and everyone you respect and acknowledge are all observing you in this position.

“You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for somebody who will never say thank you.”


Maximise profit with minimum work costs

Maximum work for minimum profit

“Efficient people in organisations get overworked and inefficient people are under-worked”
“Not all that is old is bad, just as all that is new need not necessarily be good”


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