The iron man’s secret to business success in 2012

I learnt a tip from an Iron Man last week that has turned my world upside down. This insight, so simple yet so powerful- has absolutely changed the way I am viewing 2012 and chances of success in tough times. I have never felt more optimistic. Here’s why.

Read the papers. Listen to the news. If you are in business, it’s all gloom and doom. Economic woes everywhere: businesses under heavy pressure. It’s hard not to get pessimistic about the outlook for 2012.

Unless, that is, you have heard this advice from former Iron Man great Trevor Hendy. For those not familiar with Iron Men, they are supreme surf lifesavers who also compete in complex surf sport competitions.

I heard the story second hand when presenting some ‘Possums’ highlights to the leadership team of a global FMCG giant. Hendy had spoken to them the week prior. Here’s the essence. Hendy says this: never blame the environment:

“Conditions are always perfect.”

In Hendy’s world, he’d turn up to an Iron Man event and huge waves would be crashing about; or a strong wind coming from the wrong direction; or sweeping rains; or the sea was becalmed. It would be easy for an Iron Man’s shoulders to slump a little when conditions were not in their favour- and to start feeling the chips were against them. “Don’t do it,” seems to be the thrust of his approach. “Lift your heads. Conditions are ALWAYS perfect. Get out there and focus on doing your very best – and back yourselves.”

I LOVE that. “Conditions are always perfect.”  It is so easy to use external factors as an excuse; as a reason to talk things down; to give yourself an ‘out’ ; to convince yourself that outcomes are beyond your control.

Of course they play a factor and that is a reality. BUT- change your mindset.

Take the approach that whatever the conditions and circumstance, they are perfect for you to do your best, outsmart your competition, thrill a prospect and achieve your goals. Follow these four guidelines:

  1. Keep your mind positive by accepting complete responsibility for yourself and everything that happens to you.
  2. Refuse to criticise or blame others.
  3. Resolve to make progress rather than excuses.
  4. Keep your energy focused forward, that things CAN improve in your business and your life.

Conditions are ALWAYS perfect. It is always up to us to make things happen.

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28 Responses to The iron man’s secret to business success in 2012

  1. Peter Cerny December 7, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    Hey Chris,

    I really like that line.

    I agree, there always seems to be an excuse doesn’t there, for why things don’t work.

    I read a book called ‘How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less’ By Nicholas Boothman. Boothman spoke about the difference between a really useful attitude compared to a really useless one.

    While that book spoke about attitude in regards to relationships you just reinforced that it applies to all areas of life.

    Many thanks,

    the white agency

    • Chris Savage December 7, 2011 at 10:17 am #

      Thanks Peter- thanks too for the tip on the book. I’ll be reading it shortly! Chris

    • Craig Smith January 18, 2012 at 12:27 am #

      If you haven’t done the preparation and the training, I’d say making people like you is an attempt to control your surroundings rather than be prepared for whats out there.
      What Chris shows is important here, is to not play the blame game. We are in control of every action we take, and need to take responsibility for it without using others or the ‘conditions’ as an excuse.
      The human mind is astounding and imaginative, and with the wrong mindset can create ‘crashing waves’ that may not even exist, simply to make excuses why things shouldn’t work out, just so we don’t face disappointment.
      Sometimes we simply need to acknowledge we didn’t try our best, or that we weren’t ready to race, as there is no progression from ‘perfect’.
      This can only mean we walk a tightrope as there is a fine line between reality and delusion.

      • Chris Savage January 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

        Thanks Craig. Appreciate the perspective. Chris

  2. Margaret La December 7, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    Hi Chris,

    I do love this post. It’s reminded me of another quote that Bob Proctor made which I also really like: “I see only my objectives, everything else must give way.” I’ve probably not repeated it to myself often enough lately. So thank you for the reminder.

    Safety People Australia

    • Chris Savage December 7, 2011 at 10:47 am #

      Thanks Margaret- a great quote! Chris

  3. Dennis December 7, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Great post thanks Chris! When I relate that statement to building business, it actually becomes a matter of adaptability over attitude. Many business are built to succeed in certain market conditions, up or down, but therein lies the problem. Our world is changing faster than ever before so to succeed you have to be adaptable, be nimble, change the sails according to the wind, and of course don’t just stand on the beach grumbling about the conditions.

    • Chris Savage December 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

      Thanks Dennis- totally applicable to business building.

    • Toby Andrews December 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

      I respectfully disagree, I believe adaptability has to follow attitude. You need to have the right attitude to ensure that you (and your business) can be adaptable. Further, there is little point in having the required resources or capabilities if you don’t believe ‘you can do it’…


      • Chris Savage December 7, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

        Fair enough Toby. Good point. Chris

  4. Geoff Brown December 7, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    Great incite from Trevor Hendy…we are all to ready to place blame on outside circumstances and perceived tough times for our lack of success. From my experience the tough times and challenges are the very ingredients that are offered up to us for greater success if you choose to take them…it is far easier to accept failure than to strive for success regardless of the environment we find ourselves in.


    • Chris Savage December 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

      Well said Geoff.

  5. Mark Heyburn December 7, 2011 at 11:07 am #


    One gloomy Melbourne winter’s day my wife delivered our 3 year old to kinder fearful that her darling little boy might be forced to play in wet and windy conditions. In responding to her concerns, the Head of Kinder informed her:

    “There is no such thing as bad weather, only poorly selected clothes. We endeavour to clarify the incorrect attribution with the children, though more often than not, we find it is parents that make the mistake.”

    A geat approach to life that can be fostered from a very young age.


    • Chris Savage December 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

      Thanks Mark- a great example of this thought applying to all walks of life! Chris

  6. Dennis December 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    @toby yes I take you’re point, but I don’t mean to say that they’re mutually exclusive. Of course in business you have to believe you can do it; you wouldn’t get very far if you didn’t. My meaning was that you have to willing and able to adapt and even change direction or tactic so you can can succeed regardless of conditions. There’s no point shouting “we can do it” to the crew of your ship if the wind has changed. You have to adjust the sails as well. They both go hand in hand is my view.

  7. Bruce Matchett December 7, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    Fantastic stuff Chris. I can feel your energy from here. More please. Bruce

    • Chris Savage December 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

      Wow! Thanks Bruce- that coming from the most energetic guy I know means a lot. Chris

  8. Hamish December 7, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    Great read – I’m sure Trevor trains for all types of conditions, and looks at new ways to move faster and improve. So keep training, there’s always an opportunity to improve regardless of conditions.


  9. Kate Lightfoot December 8, 2011 at 8:04 am #

    The other thing about “bad” conditions is that your competition is probably facing the same circumstances. So even in gloomy economic times or inclement weather it’s still a level playing field.

    Unless, of course, their shoulders slump and they feel the chips are against them.

    And then you get the upper hand.

    (cue Evil Overlord laugh).

  10. David Trewern December 8, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    This is great Chris. We have to be aware of external factors and adjust our strategy accordingly, but to predict failure before we begin is planning to fail. ‘The conditions are always perfect’ is an attitude of being empowered. We can always find a way through. Unless we convince ourselves (before we begin) that we are at the mercy of the environment and others performance. In my 15 years running a business, I have never once known how we would get to end before we begin. Every year is about pulling a rabbit out of a hat, and turning cheese into gold. But that’s exciting isn’t it?

    • Bart Wolkowski December 9, 2011 at 9:57 am #

      Great to know David, that those succeeding in our industry have a mindset such as the one you quoted above: “Every year is about pulling a rabbit out of a hat, and turning cheese into gold. But that’s exciting isn’t it?”

  11. David Trewern December 8, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    P.S. While this might be a bit of a tangent, this post (and some of the comments above) reminded me about the ‘Stockdale Paradox’ from Jim Collins book Good to Great. Admiral Jim Stockdale was held captive for 8 years during the Vietnam war. The ‘Stockdale Paradox’ describes his duality of thinking – that many believe led to him and many of his colleagues getting out alive and in reasonable mental state. Apparently Jim Stockdale was completely aware and realistic about the dire and serious situation they were in. While others hoped to get out by Easter, or Christmas, he knew his colleagues were looking through rose coloured glasses. But Jim had 100% confidence that they would eventually get out alive, and inspired many around him to accept their situation exactly as it was, but never ever give up hope on the end goal.

    • Chris Savage December 8, 2011 at 10:57 am #

      Thanks David- great insight! And a great story….

  12. Bart Wolkowski December 9, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    Super post Chris, as it shows once again success is a mindset.

  13. Jonathan December 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    You inspired me Chris!

    • Chris Savage December 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

      As you do me JP!

  14. Tawanna May 9, 2013 at 12:20 am #

    Chiropractic strategy aims to correct misaligned structures and postures of our body.


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