I was driving to a workshop about project competitiveness and team performance I was facilitating in Lorient last week, when the news of Jean-Luc Van den Heede’s victory in the Golden Globe Race broke on the French radio.
The race may not ring a bell with many of you, so let me paint the picture: the Golden Globe Race 2018 is a re-enactment of the eponymous solo round-the-world sailing race won in 1968 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. It’s a circumnavigation without assistance, without satellite aided navigation and on boats similar to the one sailed by Sir Robin back in 1968. In other words, the real thing for real sailors.
Needless to say that completing it is already no mince feat, but winning the race is a truly extraordinary achievement.
Yet, Jean-Luc Van den Heede also known as VDH, a 73-year old (yes, seventy-three!) sailing veteran, had just done it in 212 days!
As I was making my way to the room, where the workshop would start a few minutes later, this news flash provided me with a very topical illustration for one of the key performance levers I train people to use in their professional and personal life: purpose.
I don’t use ocean racing as the backdrop and vehicle to develop the competitiveness of projects, the performance of teams and to enhance leadership skills by accident.
Round-the-world sailors have always fascinated me for the sheer perseverance, energy and steadfastness with which they overcome adversity and some of the toughest challenges on earth. These men and women are simply amazing. Not just the winners, all of them.
Because, in the end, they all share what it takes to win: that incredible resilience, which transcends them, makes them come back from the most desperate situations and finish the race.
Sailing and being at sea is what gives them the sense of purpose required to bring about “superhuman performance”. So what can we learn from it?
As individuals, we too will perform at our best, when we find a sense of purpose in what we do. It is true from a personal and professional point of view. Purpose is what gives meaning to what we do, adds value to it and contributes to make us live our personal leadership story.
Purpose should always at the forefront of our minds, when looking at choices and making decisions about what we do and how we do it, because that is when we will be able to bring out the best of ourselves. So, let’s pause for a second and ask yourself: what was the last truly great project you have worked on, what was the last awesome team you were part of, who was the last boss who inspired you? And why.
This is how you learn to recognise the meaning of purpose for you and the conditions, which will help you be good at what you do, find a meaning to it and get the satisfaction you look for.
Now, projects are just like sailing races. To be successful, they require committed team members and inspiring leaders. Just like Charles Caudrelier put it, right after winning the last Volvo Ocean Race: “I may not be the best skipper, but I have the best team”. His words sum up how his leadership created a sense of purpose and the level of individual commitment, which led to the collective victory of his team.
Hence, when you look at your next project, as a member of the team or as project leader, try to figure out what it means to you and where its purpose fits with your story. These are the questions you need to answer to get the best out of yourself and the people around you.
ALL4ONE consulting organises training and coaching sessions designed to boost project competitiveness, team performance and leadership skills by helping organisations adopt the mindset, attitudes and behaviours conducive to value realisation.