I don’t believe in luck. I believe in favour.
The kind of favour that is the result of the hard work you do on your craft and your character, your passion meeting your potential, your determination to see something through, even if it takes 12 years. The kind of favour that has reward for effort, turning up day after day and keeping on going when it gets really really hard.
Seventeen years ago, on February 16th 2002 Australian folklore was born with the victory by Stephen Bradbury in the Men’s 1000m Skating Sprint at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. “Doing a Bradbury” is now in the Macquarie Dictionary, it’s part of the Australian lexicon. And it’s part of our psyche, for better or for worse. We Aussies have a strange way of making something so significant seem all too trivial. At the same time, the Aussie way of making something funny without wanting to be derogatory is one of the reasons this heroic effort has become such an embedded part of our culture. Winning after so many years of effort, sacrifice, and heartaches is monumental. And we Aussies call it what it kinda wasn’t and make history out of it! In inimitable Aussie form, Steven Bradbury has built a post-Olympic career on the truth of that story and has embraced the humour as well as the narrative behind it to be one of our countries most recognisable motivational speakers.
Truth has a weight to it that we simply can’t ignore. No matter how Australian we try to make the accomplishment.
Doing a Bradbury means coming from behind against insurmountable odds and claiming victory. You can see a short 6-minute Documentary here on the story. It’s fascinating. The work Bradbury put in to even get to Salt Lake City was incredible. Suffering a severe accident requiring multiple stitches and crashing out eighteen months prior to the games and breaking his neck only to come back and continue to compete in the individual event despite setbacks. A disqualification, a crash and the final against a handful of the best skaters in the world left him in truly great company, company that he well deserved.
Understandably the question of how the medal was won immediately haunted Bradbury, he authentically shares these thoughts in this Speakers Bureau Presentation, I get it, it’s a marketing video, but when do you or I have to think through our worthiness of a gold medal in 14 seconds after winning one?
My take on his decision is this. Bradbury decided to accept the medal and stand on the podium, not just because of the race he had just won, or the qualifying races to get there, but for the sheer hard work and sacrifice he’d made with the single intention of being a winter Olympic medalist for Australia in the twelve years leading up to that moment. Favour shows up over time as a result of the dedication to skill development, character refinement and perseverance.
I don’t believe in luck. I believe in favour.
In this case study, favour is the cumulative result of being a gold medallist before you are. In the model below it has two big pillars, self-leadership, you must have the drive inside you to want to make it work and see the success you desire to see. Equally too need team engagement, you can’t and won’t succeed on your own.
The Favour Model
The Model Explained:
Favour is the result of three things:
- Purpose – You have an overarching reason for being and focus for your activity.
- Grit – You get the reality of life and leadership and navigate the challenges. (Attribution: Angela Lee Duckworth)
- Optimism – As opposed to happiness there is a positivity even when things don’t work out well.
In practice this plays out in the following ways:
- When you have purpose and grit you can recover from setbacks. Get back in the game as quick as you can.
- When you have purpose and optimism you can stay the course. You can see the destination and the path.
- When you have grit and optimism you can maintain perspective. The milestones and the heartache make more sense.
The following five steps will increase your experience of favour in leadership:
- Want it bad. Have and hold your passion for the brighter future.
- Do the work. Favour is an outpost created from disciplined inputs.
- Find your team. You will go fast alone and farther together.
- Hang in there. Bradbury competed for three more years after his gold medal and twelve beforehand.
- Enjoy the reward. Bradbury didn’t disqualify himself or fall and went to four Winter Olympics to succeed.
Favour isn’t luck. Favour is the culmination of inputs. Enjoy your podium, we haven’t seen what you did to get there but we cheer on your success.
This is for leaders. I am for leaders.
PS: If you are an Aussie, you might want to check out the hilarious Roy & HG version of the race, to my friends in the rest of the world, it will take too long to explain 🙂