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The other day a colleague who is struggling with her business challenges cynically asked why business conferences will ask non-business types – sports stars, rock stars, former heroin addicts, paraplegics, mountain climbers, and so on – to address a group of business owners or executives?

Coarse advice

Recently, some business groups had the former lead singer of the Boomtown Rats – Sir Bob Geldof – to address them. These guys and girls were mortgage brokers and real estate agents. And Sir Bob, who hasn’t really run a business, gave one of the best bits of business advice I’ve ever heard. In fact, on reflection, it was advice that has powered me along in my business and life endeavours my whole life.

At the conference Sir Bob was asked by a young journalist, who actually works for my company, what was the best bit of advice he was ever given, that could help the business people at the conference? His answer was: “F-ck off!”

The answer quite shocked the young woman and she failed to understand that his reply was not an insulting reaction to her question but in fact was his considered answer.

Some weeks later another journalist – who was not phased by Sir Bob’s rude reply – recounted the story in a written article and pointed out that the old rock singer and humanitarian campaigner had argued that every time someone told him to “f-ck off” it made him determined to succeed.

We all need prompts, kicks in the pants or words of wisdom that jolt us out of our complacency if we want to succeed in our careers, grow a great business, create a nice pile of wealth or be a great role model for our kids or employees. 

Outside the square

When I’m asked to speak to business groups I refer to Edward de Bono, (whom I interviewed years ago) who said the high achievers of the world in business, the arts or sport, even politics, are people who think outside the square. They look at their rivals and make sure that they’re able to outcompete them.

Undoubtedly Julia Gillard made that assessment when she made a run for Kevin Rudd’s job. 

Remember these words

In my speeches I also refer to the tennis great, Chris Evert who had something like a 90% success rate in professional singles tennis. I’m told this was the best success rate of all tennis players ever.

In looking into her life I came across a quote that explains why she succeeded and it’s the measure that we all have to objectively test ourselves.

This is the quote and I recommend you think about every word if you want to win: “There were times when deep down I wanted to win so badly, I could actually will it to happen. I think most of my career was based on desire.”

We are all victims of procrastination, negativity and fear of failure. Tom O’Toole, the Beechworth Baker, recently on my Sky News Business Channel program argued, “Everything we want is just outside our comfort zone!” And he’s absolutely right. 

Stories to inspire

In May I took my show to the Shanghai Expo and we broadcasted out of the wonderful Australian pavilion. Upon entering, the 30,000 visitors a day were exposed to the icons of Australia and one of the more prominent was a huge photo of our world surfing champ – Layne Beachley.

The so appropriately-named Beachley won the world championship seven times and no woman had ever come close to this and she did it from a very challenged childhood, which could have seen lesser-types go off the rails or at least underachieve.

And now as a retired champion she’s trying to inspire others with her “Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars Foundation”, which seeks to inspire girls and women around the country.

Sometimes former sporting champions have a crack at business and are not able to achieve the same success as they had in sport but that’s not to say they don’t have a great story to inspire others. Their business underachievements could be because they don’t have the passion for business that drove them to the top of the tree in their chosen sport but it doesn’t mean that their story can’t inspire others in business. 

Passion is crucial

And this is the critical message that I’ve discovered over the years of talking to high-achievers in business and sport and after reflecting on my own successes and failures.

You have to have the passion for what you’re doing to push yourself through the pain barriers to get outside your comfort zone to rack up results that make you stand out from the crowd. 

Help from experts

The best performers in the world get the best help from experts who know more than them. They use personal trainers to look good and feel good. They use business coaches or executive coaches to get the edge in business. They employ financial advisers to invest wisely to make sure that the hard work in business results in peace of mind wealth in the future.

They have the best accountants to minimise their tax legally and they have the best lawyers to ensure they get good advice when it’s critically important.

These people have the guts to spend on getting an edge but they’re diligent with their cash flow management.

And most of all they have the desire to win. That’s the value of inspirational people – they can make you dream of success and can sometimes actually change people forever.

So, if you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Thursday, August 26, 2010

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