Olympic Coach Michelle Leigh Shares the key to winning gold…

This past weekend, the Olympic flame came to the home of alpine skiing events for the 2010 Games when 1980 bronze medalist Steve Podborski (he even has “ski” embedded in his name! ) one of the Crazy Canucks, held the flame high and skied down Whistler Mountain. We are all about to head into full-on Olympic fever. In this week’s podcast, Canadian Olympic skating coach Michelle Leigh shares what it takes to be the best in the world.

Michelle’s professional accomplishments include coaching world class athletes including Elvis Stoyko, Yakeshi Honda, Jennifer Robinson, and Steven Cousins. In addition to her Olympic coaching, Michelle has coached at the World Championships, the Canadian Championships, and many other elite level events in the sport of figure skating. She is currently a speaker for the 2010 Olympic Excellence Series.

Have you ever wondered what differentiates an athlete at the Olympics? Why do some athletes go on to Olympic gold while others, even more talented, seem to struggle? In last week’s CareerPoll, 15% responded that coaching had the greatest affect an Olympic athlete’s performance. There is much in common with coaching, managing, and leading teams. A great coach can achieve a completely different outcome with the same set of athletes. Consider the role that Corey Clouston has had on The Ottawa Senators since arriving. I was somewhat surprised by the poll results on the perception of the value and the role a coach plays in having an impact on performance. I do know that no Olympian goes to the Olympics without the support and guidance of their coach.

Michelle shared that the role of a coach is to understand the athlete’s strengths and weaknesses and to create a game plan to achieve the goal. The real key is understanding motivation, “these are normal people with hopes, insecurities, talents, and goals. Not everyone will become a champion in their sport, but the skills they are developing in life will help them become a champion in life. A majority of the athletes I have coached have gone on to have very rewarding professional and personal lives.

Michelle has seen 3 common elements with the athletes that become true champions:

  1. Commitment;
  2. Talent; and,
  3. A desired goal.

Michelle shared one other key element that she has discovered creates Olympic champions: the ability to deal with disappointment, failure, and criticism. “Many people thought that Elvis Stoyko had the wrong body type, height, and appearance to excel in his sport, however, I felt that criticism motivated him to prove to others that he was a champion.”

One final piece of advice that Michelle shared is about belief. As you have probably noticed our Olympic Campaign slogan is “’I believe.’ All the talent and commitment without belief is all for naught. A coach lets you borrow belief from them until you start believing in yourself. This is not false belief; I know when I see a winner. My role as a coach is to get them to catch up to themselves.” I have seen this in my work as a career coach and in great managers: they show their belief in your potential, and through your discipline, and drive you “borrow” this and go on to win.

Michelle commented, “Ultimately being a great coach is all about helping people to become more.

This weeks 60 Second Workout: Reach out and find a mentor to help you become more.

This week’s CareerPoll – What affect did getting laid-off have on you?

Webinar: Recovering from a lay-off on Thur Feb 11, 12-1. Hydro One former CEO Eleanor Clitheroe shares insights, lessons learned, and career options.

The worst has happened: You have been laid off or fired! Could you feel any lower, more wronged? How can you recover your career, your life? Join Alan Kearns as he interviews Eleanor Clitheroe, formerly with Hydro One who was released from her role as CEO in 2002 amidst a great deal of negative publicity. Eleanor will share what surprised her, what lessons she would encourage other professionals to learn who may be going through this challenging phase, her ideas on exploring other career options, and the importance of family, friends, and your network.

“When you give up things, the next thing you have to give up is the thought of the things.” (Eleanor Clitheroe)

Looking for a coach to help you come out on top? Feeling stuck? Need help with a professional resume, job search and interview preparation? Invest in yourself; get the edge in this competitive job market. Take a small step and book an initial consultation with me.

I believe, along the road with you!


PS. Looking to know your strengths? The Career Identity Program can help you identify the right career fit for you.

PPS. Learn from best-selling authors and professionals like Michelle. Subscribe to my podcast; CareerJoy Conversations on Itunes.