THE BLOG
04/09/2015 08:26 BST | Updated 02/09/2016 06:59 BST

A Record Breaking Athletics Goal Achievement Lesson From The Environment In China!

As I watched the 2015 World Athletics Championships in Beijing, I was struck by the amount of records broken, and I found myself shaking my head at having not written about a glaring goal achievement lesson before...

Goal achievement lessons are clear to see in sport, and I often write about it. The successes after years of hard work are clear for all to see, and an equally important lesson can be seen in the equally obvious failures, which show that the years of hard work don't always *guarantee* success, but have to be put in anyway with the prospect of failure being a very real one, since there can only be one winner in each event.

This time around in China, it was the British athletes that caught my eye.

While Olympic champions Jess Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford won their events (and with some style, all three of them!) it was athletes a bit further down the ladder of stardom that got my fingers itching to write about them.

Have you heard of Sophie Hitchon? She 'only' finished 4th, but the 24 year old broke the British record in the hammer.

How about Dina Asher-Smith? She 'only' finished 5th in the 200m but the 19 year old broke the British record which has stood for 31 years. She also became the fastest teenager *ever* in the 200.

What about Shara Proctor? She took a silver medal in the long jump, and not only was she the first woman in a British vest to jump over 7 metres, she did it twice.

So, 3 examples of athletes not only doing better than they've ever done before, but better than anyone from their country has ever done before, and that's just using 3 British examples!

I could throw in Dafne Schippers who set 2 Dutch records on the way to 100m silver, and a European record on the way to 200m gold. In fact her 200m time is the fastest this century, and the third fastest ever, second only to Marion Jones, a confirmed drug cheat, and the late Florence Griffith-Joyner who was dogged by doping speculation and suspicion after she smashed the world record in 1988. It must be said that she never actually failed a test.

Back to 2015 though, and back to the examples from these World Championships...

If the question is then "what is it that brings these performances, these markers of goal achievement?" there's one word that springs to mind - ENVIRONMENT.

Yes, they have put in the work, and yes they have prepared specifically for this championship, and if you expect an athlete to improve as the years of training kick in, then perhaps the results seem less of a surprise, but I think a key element is the environment.

There's an old adage that says you become like the 5 people you spend most time with, and that is a personal development lesson about environment. I think it's on display in my examples.

The Birds Nest Stadium in Beijing is a good one, there's a certain something about it, so if you put an athlete in that environment, and fill it with a huge crowd and other athletes at the top world level, well compared to a lonely solo training session in the rain on a cold Monday night, where do you think the performance level is likely to go?

The athletes know they are on the biggest stage, they know are competing against the best, and it brings the best out of them.

As ever in athletics, there were failures, that's the way it goes in sport and in life, but the lesson about the environment shouted to me from the TV like never before.

Think to your own goal, sporting or non-sporting. Are you surrounding yourself with people who will bring out the best in you? Are you putting yourself in the environment to bring out the best in yourself?

If not, then maybe it's time for a change, and you might just end up setting your own personal best records.

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