One of the real highlights of the Olympics and Paralympics – for me at least – was how everyone was totally in awe of the athletes. Pretty much everyone agreed that Ennis, Simmonds, Farah et al were breath-taking in what they achieved and the classy way they did it. There has been a lot of talk of legacy and how these new heroes will inspire future Olympians, and as pleased as I am to see athletes getting their well-deserved 15 minutes of fame, I do wonder how long the admiration will last. In the age of round the clock media celebrity, I worry that genuine brilliance will end up forgotten while the ‘famous for being famous’ crowd will be on magazine covers and news sites for ages to come. I think this sends the wrong message. It says that we can all get the glory without the graft, which is not just morally disquieting but demonstrably untrue.
I think the spirit of putting in the effort to get a great result applies to those people who are constantly learning and reflecting on how they negotiate and manage their business. In real life, learning to negotiate is hard work, takes practice and you make mistakes along the way. On the Certificate in Advanced Negotiation one of the points that always gets discussed is that no matter how much experience someone has, there is still opportunity to learn and reflect on better or different practice. I have heard from many professionals who say that they are skilled at what they do and have no need for additional input from a course like the one we offer, and in a narrow sense that might be true. But the London 2012 athletes give us another model. They teach us that you get to be the best precisely by making mistakes, surrounding themselves with supportive people and being willing to admit that there is always something else to learn.
Recognising that it is OK to learn, grow, question and try is a realistic and sensible way of approaching the world. The alternative is to be stagnant and unable to deal with the daily challenges that the business world has to offer. As they say, it’s the taking part that’s the important thing, not always the winning.