Talent Development – Talent is Everywhere


Talent development was not the topic that I expected to be learning about when I had the opportunity to see and hear Steve Cram speak recently. Steve is a world- record holding athlete as well as a World and Olympic medallist from the 1980s. He is now a broadcaster and speaker and I am sure that we will be seeing a lot of him during the year ahead.

The purpose of Steve’s talk was to draw comparisons between his experience of becoming a winning world-class athlete and winning in business.

Steve was a great athlete at the same time as Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe (now Lord Coe). These three English middle distance runners dominated their field at a world level and during his talk Steve mused on why the three of them should have been so successful at that time. He believes that almost anyone else in the country could have been as successful because “the talent is everywhere”.

Some of the reasons why Steve believes that they were so successful are:

  • Their minds were opened to the possible – belief
  • They focussed on a target – breaking it down into smaller targets that are within reach, such as being selected for the Commonwealth Games rather than winning an Olympic Gold medal
  • Hard work
  • Visualising achieving the goal and not the reward of the goal – reaching the finishing line first rather than standing on the victory podium
  • A great support system
  • Having a good coach and mentor (his mentor was Brendan Foster)
  • Taking advantage of all the nuances towards a goal or deadline – success is not down to one thing only

Steve said that success can’t be attributed to just one factor or event. It is down to a series of ‘nuances’ along the way and any one could tip the balance.

I was thinking that, for him, missing just one training session could have made the difference between breaking the world record or not.

I am now thinking about what are those nuances for me and what is the equivalent of missing a training session (or indeed having an extra one)?

If the talent is everywhere then you are the talent and everyone in your organisation is too. What can you and I learn from Steve’s insights to nurture that talent in ourselves and others?

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