In 2000 I was the Sport Psychologist for a motoGP team based in the South of France. For the six years leading up to that point, the athletes I had worked with were involved in all kinds of dangerous sport. There were boxers, mountaineers, kick boxing fighters, athletes competing in five-day adventure races without sleep, rally car drivers and big wave tow in surfers. What fascinated me about these athletes was a complete willingness to accept risk to life and limb. Moreover, each athlete took about their challenges with such confidence that I questioned whether they were simply a different breed of human being. Could risk taking be learned?
I was plagued by the fact that I had never succeeded in any sport, moreover anything remotely dangerous. When I witnessed firsthand the steel nerve of the riders in motoGP racing at speeds of 320kmph, I realised how inadequate my training in sport psychology had been to offer anything that would allow a rider to perform better in his chosen sport. Gradually it dawned on me that I needed to experience a dangerous sport. Choose something high-risk and see if I could compete at a reasonable level, relying on what I knew of sport psychology. When I discovered the sport of freediving I was 30 years old.
A decade on, I still compete in freediving around the world. I have a passion for speaking and for passing on the lessons learned from starting a dangerous sport and making it to the highest level of international competition. When given the opportunity, I speak about how to handle the moment when you most want to give up by changing our inbuilt response to fear and anxiety. While sport is used as the medium, the message is equally relevant to the challenges we regularly face in business.
Focused on leadership
Since moving out of sport psychology 8 years ago my career has centred on understanding, researching and coaching others on the topic of leadership. Working with a blue chip client base, my time is spend in the design and delivery of leadership programs throughout Asia Pacific and South Africa.
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