“Oh, I Can Always Do That Later”

Cover of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effectiv...

Cover of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I was motivated to write this post by the thought that I really should write something tonight, instead of procrastinating over a variety of To Do items before bed.


There’s a very honest BBC News article by Rowan Pelling on the theme of putting things off.  I have included a link to the piece which is worth a quick read.  I can definitely see where the writer is coming from.




Apparently Canadian research, by Prof Piers Steel from the Haskanye School of Business at the University of Calgary, suggests perhaps 95% of us put things off.  Worse yet Prof Piers suggests that those of us who do are:


“…less wealthy, less healthy and less happy than those who don’t delay”


Sometimes there isn’t a frog to be eaten (my 19 July post – Sharing Your Goals, Or Not – explains that reference).  If so it can be easy to chip away at several tasks, in a scatter-gun way, without the feeling of having completed anything substantial.


Perhaps it is really a matter of perspective.


Brain Tracy, in his book about ‘Goals and how to get everything you want…’, suggests applying a laser-like focus on the important goal you want to attain.  If an interruption in the shape of an email, text, letter or request for help does not support that focus then the interruption belongs in the ‘Important but not Urgent’ category.


That sound like a hardcore approach to getting things done.  It also has echoes of one of the late Dr Stephen Covey’s ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’.


Nonetheless I am going to try that approach for the rest of the month.  I’ll see what difference putting first things first makes, and post about it subsequently.

There May Be Trouble Ahead – Post Script

Map of Summer Olympics locations. Countries th...

Map of Summer Olympics locations. Countries that have hosted one Summer Olympics are shaded green, while countries that have hosted two or more are shaded blue. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In an earlier post I speculated that there might be Trouble Ahead as a result of the 11th hour pre-Olympic security staffing problem.


It turns out the long term impact of the problem is being quantified by the key players.


For the armed services – drafted in at the last minute to help ensure the Games were successful – there will be knock-on effects for many months to come.


As Wing Commander Peter Daulby, military Chief Planner, commented to the Guardian:


“It will take two years to recover from [Olympic deployment], to get back to normal, to get everything back into kilter. You can’t expect [personnel deployed] to go back to normal routine very easily”




For the original security contractor – G4S – the impact of achieving a reported 83% deployment of their original staffing goal will be financial.  The Guardian reports a 60% fall in half year profits and reputational knock in the longer term.


As their Chief Executive, Nick Buckles, said in a recent interview:


“…his appearance before the home affairs select committee shortly before the Games, where he was forced to admit that the Olympics process had been a “shambles”, was difficult but necessary”



Although the Games themselves were rightly praised as a major success, the secuirty contractor’s experience seems to illustrates the principle that; ordinary efforts probably could not have produced the extraordinary planning outcome the Olympics call for.

Swimming Lessons

English: Mark Foster, British swimmer, at the ...

English: Mark Foster, British swimmer, at the parade in London to celebrate the achievements of British competitors at the 2008 Summer Olympics. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Interviewed by Benenden Healthcare Society’s ben health magazine in February 2012, former Olympic swimmer Mark Foster offered some views about success in and out of the water.


I thought I would share the highlights of what he said, since they have a general appeal.


Speaking about what it takes to succeed in his sport, he said:


“You have to be mentally strong and believe in yourself 100 per cent.  You need to be the one who trains harder and wants it more and is willing to go that extra mile”.


In the working world he emphasised the importance of taking “…responsibility for your job – for your part of the big picture”.


Finally he offered some thoughts about striving to succeed:


“Never be afraid of failing.  The real winners are those who have a go and go that extra mile.  Don’t be someone who doesn’t try because they don’t want to fail.  Be the best you can be”.

Getting Inspired

I found some of the athlete’s personal stories from the Olympics to be amazing and I suspect the Paralympics will generate even more inspiring tales.


Here are a few thoughts, prompted by the recent Games, showing how inspiration can be kindled, capitalised on and embellished for the future.


Track star Mo Farah has taken years to fan the spark of his basic ability.  Mo was inspired to fulfil his potential, crossing oceans in the process.  He started out in Africa and received coaching in Europe, then continued honing his skills in the United States.  Notwithstanding his journey, the Guardian considers that:


“the drive that has propelled Farah to his Games-defining feat in his hometown is all is own”.

English: Mo Farah at the 2010 European Athleti...

English: Mo Farah at the 2010 European Athletics Championships in Barcelona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





British sportswoman Nicola Adams has blazed a trail for others, as the first Gold medallist in women’s Olympic boxing.  According to a Telegraph interview she is prepared for her role as a pioneer:


“I definitely want to inspire girls to follow their dreams” she said “and not be bothered by what people say.  That’s what we need – more females being role models in sport”.





Cycling Olympian Laura Trott spoke to the Guardian about crowd sourcing encouragement:


“I’m peaking at the right time and it’s all thanks to the coaches, and the support of the crowd and my family” she told the BBC.




Basketball’s John Amaechi has an eye for the future.  In his view performance gains for his sport in Britain, cannot be determined quantitatively:


“The idea you can grow a sport by counting how many people do something for x minutes a week is ridiculous” he says in a BBC article about the sporting legacy.



A Winning Attitude

Sue Tibballs, CEO, Women's Sport & Fitness Fou...

Sue Tibballs, CEO, Women’s Sport & Fitness Foundation (Photo credit: KatBeads)

In my experience a positive approach to a challenge helps to produce better results than a negative one.


I know I have taken on a task from someone who said they ‘could not ‘ achieve the desired outcome, and I went on to produce an effective result without too much effort.


If positivity can produce those sorts of results in the everyday world, how much more can it galvanise people at the peak of their game?


Arguably, as the eyes of the world are focused on the Olympic venues, most of the 2012 competitors must want to show the aspirational values of winners who achieve results at Faster, Higher, and Stronger levels.


It makes sense that, as Coach Robin Williams notes, World beating rowers Heather Stanning and Helen Glover’s earned their Gold medals in part because of their “… reliably positive attitude on and off the water”.




Female athletes’ positivity may also help raise the profile and levels of participation in women’s sport.  There is room for improvement as Sue Tibballs, Chief Executive of the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, says: “Being sporty is still not seen as aspirational or even normal among girls. They just don’t see women doing it”



Who knows, at the end of the competition it might be clear that, this time around, women really have made their mark.