Going for Gold - The Neurology of Success - part II of III

Cartoon of success. Idea, get-set, go
Posted on: Wednesday 03, August 2016
Category: Thought Leadership

This is part two of a three-part blog exploring the factors behind what makes successful people successful. What’s their secret, is there a formula to success and if so can anyone model it? This article unpacks easy practical ways for you to plan ahead so you can practise gaining access to your own brain's pre-coded success neurology.


[Reading time 3 1/2 minutes]

80 years ago at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, athlete Jesse Owens shot to world fame winning four track and field gold medals: 100 meters, 200 meters, 4x100 meter relay and long jump. He was the most successful athlete at these games and was credited with ‘bursting’ Adolf Hitler’s myth of so-called Aryan supremacy.

The year before, in Michigan, Jesse Owens set three world records and equalled another. This achievement has been dubbed the greatest 45 minutes ever in sport and to-date has never been matched.

It turns out that Jesse Owens’ success strategy was rooted in who he truly was deep down and planning ahead, which he then aligned to his entire being – via his thoughts, feelings and actions. Here's an infographic that summarises these...

So let’s examine these each in turn so you can easily learn from, adapt and apply them to your own successes and whatever success means to you.

Thoughts - have a clear, simple idea that drives you

Firstly, reading Jesse’s quote above - he had a simple principle and clear idea to focus his thoughts on. Owens knew he was an athlete and believed that he was born to compete. It is this authenticity that awoke his passion, his drive and his core purpose (we touched on this in part one).

So applying this to you and your own success (like Jesse) means that you need to be clear about your deepest dreams and desires. This will provide you with clues as to who you are too and your own purposes. From there you can start to hone these into a single principle and clear idea that will guide and drive you toward what you desire to achieve.

Feelings – win the internal battles within yourself

(Multigenre Project on Famous Black Olympians)

Secondly Jesse clearly understood that the real struggle was about getting ready and preparing himself to overcome his own ‘internal belief battle’.  His antidote was firstly acknowledging that this was where the real struggle was at. Secondly to honour his true authentic self (as an athlete) he had to overcome his deepest fears, as well as the external prejudices to skin colour.

In a previous blog (4 brain hacks to stretch you towards success) I talked about using the power of your imagination to setting up positive feelings and an optimistic mind-set about being successful.

For example by recalling a past positive or powerful memory your brain recreates that memory and provides you with the mind-body experience similar to it really happening right now. Importantly you feel all same feel-good sensations of that memory all over again. Athletes use this simple mind process (called priming) all a time to help them access their true authenticity and capability.

So whenever you are faced with your own internal struggles and battles, or have a difficult situation to face, rather than being flooded by reactive fears and anxieties, instead you can train your mind to reframe your mind set to something more proactive instead.

As Jesse said; “This is where [the invisible struggle] it’s at.” And it is within all of us to overcome!

Take action by application and practice you master yourself


Thirdly, Owens connects his thoughts and feelings to actions through his body.

As Jesse says, dreams can only become realities through determined practice and effort. Any athlete and sports person will tell you that is a key to success.  But practice alone won’t cut it. It’s the combined synergy of all the above strategies that makes all the difference.

Furthermore, neurologically mind and body are one system. So all our thoughts and feelings ultimately connect with our body too and vice-versa. 

For example every athlete knows that fear, stress and anxiety cause your body to become reactive and close in on itself - access to natural well-rehearsed instinctive body movements become stilted and laboured. All-important ‘flow’ is lost. It also follows with powerless and weak body postures, that the mind tends to focus on the negative. However when strong powerful postures are purposefully adopted then the mind is focused on more positive and proactive outcomes.

Importantly this principle can be applied beyond sport to any form of success. All successful people have learned how to access the right body language to aid their success. And returning to the earlier paragraph the more you practise the right body language the more naturally that becomes part of you. In this way you neurologically set up your mind and body for success, whatever that means to you.

Tom Daley - Going for Gold

Here’s British Olympian diver Tom Daley's application of the above 3 step strategy, in his pursuit of Rio 2016 medal glory that you can easily apply too…

After winning bronze at London’s 2012 Olympics, Tom completely lost faith in his original ‘Twister’ dive.  So Tom’s team took the brave decision to create a whole new dive – called ‘the firework’. 

Thinking - have a clear simple idea that drives you and awakens your passions and purpose. Tom’s was simply: Go for Gold in Rio 2016

Feeling – The battles that count aren’t for gold medals, it’s about the struggles within yourself. Tom had to re-believe in the new dive.

Action- To turn dreams into reality, it takes an awful lot of dedication, self-discipline and effort. For Tom it took two years to get the new dive to gold medal standard.

Unfortunately Tom missed out on the individual 10m diving after breaking the world record in the Prelim's - that's sport!

Finally returning back to Jesse Owens - at his memorial park in his home town of Oakville Alabama this poem by Charles Ghagna appears on a bronze plaque at the Park:

Part III…

In the final part in this series, I bring together parts I & II and explore the 6 elements that make up success and how you can apply this too for yourself or with your team.


[1048 Words]

The Neurology of Success Series

All new 1-minute bite-sized blogs and infographics (click image below)

Further reading

Published Author of, You Are More Than You Think - the return to your authentic self - Andrew Jenkins SRA (May 2014) on Amazon

Leadership and brain blogs

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See http://youaremorethanyouthink.co.uk for more information


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