What is your 1% better?

Danny Crates, the former British Paralympic athlete and world record holder for the 800 metres, was the keynote speaker at the ICPA’s Practice Evolution London conference. There he revealed his five elements for success:

1. The true meaning behind a goal is key: What does success look like to you? And why do you want it? Tap into this motivation. In order to achieve something you need passion and ambition. It is important to constantly remind yourself of your goal AND the reason behind it.

2. Break big goals down into smaller ones: Something that may have once appeared to be unreachable can now be viewed as a lot more obtainable. When Danny needed to improve his time by four seconds over four years (the equivalent of 30m on the track) he broke it down to an improvement of one second a year, or half a second every six months, or a quarter of a second every 12 weeks. As Danny said: “Athletes always want to improve by 1%. What is your 1% better?”

3. When life is going well, it’s easy: Failure is ok – it’s inevitable. When you fail at something you can do the same two things you could have done had you succeeded – you can sit back and sulk or you can move forward and set new goals. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

4. Sometimes we all need a kick up the backside: It doesn’t matter how motivated we are, sometimes we need an extra push because talent is not enough. Talent will only get you so far. It’s your work ethic that counts.

5. Control the controllables: Be as prepared as you can be for the situation you are facing, whether that’s an 800m sprint or an F3 exam. You can’t control the weather on the day, or how well the person next to you performs. But you can control your training, your diet and how much rest you got the night before. Make sure that at that moment before your race (or exam) starts you have no regrets about how you could have done something differently – because if you know you’ve done everything then there is no need to worry.

• Written by Francesca Cullaney