Though I am not an Olympian by any stretch of the imagination, I admire those who work hard at achieving a goal no matter what the obstacles. People who try but fail, falter and return, win or lose, are heroes in my mind.  When I see athletes performing with bandaged wrists or ankles or hear stories of comebacks from serious trauma, such as skiers learning to walk after spinal injury, or surfers getting back on the board after losing a limb — I want to have what they have!  I want what it takes to tolerate discomfort, believe in recovery, develop or re-develop strength and skills, and literally, “go for the gold,” (Olympiad or not).

What makes one person throw in the towel and another refuse to give up?   I’m sure there are many reasons.  Ed Tseng, mental coach and author of Game. Set. Life. Peak Performance for Sports and Life, challenged me to complete my first book.  He held me accountable and I succeeded.  This year in Rio, Tseng coached Olympic long jumper, Yvonne Trevino Hayek. Her success was doing her best, getting beyond mental limitations and enjoying the process.  According to Tseng, peak performance has more to do with what’s going on inside the person than on the outside.   This is equally true in my work as a Communications Coach.

After three decades of helping professionals meet their speech goals, I know that skill and practice alone are insufficient.  Coaching begins with understanding how a client feels and thinks. People who want to be comfortable public speakers but are fearful, and presenters who feel average and want to “raise the bar” on their speaking performance, need to examine their beliefs and attitudes, judgments and fears.

Persistence, perseverance and patience are requirements for successful performance for athletes and speakers.  It’s the “invisibles,” the inner work of thinking, feeling and sensing, that makes or breaks “the game” and differentiates the good from the great.

Creating a winning presentation or performance of any kind, begins from the “inside” and a strong coach can make all the difference!