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High risk and mental attitude

February 18, 2010

‘It’s not pure physical ability that makes champions, it’s having the right mental approach and these guys [downhill ski racers] take that to a whole different level.’  Michael Johnson talking in a recent documentary about downhill ski racers.

The Winter Olympics brings us a window on top level competitors in some of the highest risk sports out there; downhill skiing, ski jumping and luge to name but a few.   The stakes are high, and yet they love their sports and the challenge of pushing the limits and being on the edge – that’s what makes them tick.

 I’ve competed myself in high adrenaline dangerous sports (paragliding at World Class level) and have friends and colleagues who thrive on challenge.  To many, those who compete in high risk sports may seem like complete nutcases who are constantly cheating death. However Michael Johnson hits the nail on the head when suggesting that the mental approach is taken to a whole different level.  

Athletes in high risk sports thrive on the exhileration that comes from competing on the edge, they know the risks, and they ensure that their mental and physical training helps them minimise the risks and maximise performance. 

It’s the same with ‘downhill ski racers’ of the business world, those who thrive on living on the edge.  And as with sport, the higher the business risk, the greater the importance of having the right mental attitude to reap the rewards of working on the edge. 

And this reminds me of one of my favourite poems by Christopher Logue:

  Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It’s too high!
COME TO THE EDGE!
And they came,
and we pushed,
And they flew.

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