If you build it, they will come...

If you want people to think something is worthwhile - the first thing to do is make it worthwhile. And if you manage to do that, they will come. This is how High Performance used to work, and still does in many places. People who were inspired to achieve improbable goals did everything they could to achieve them. Some were successful, many weren't, but the one consistent thing is that they started down that path.

But what IS high performance? Is it a location or a building? Is it a result? Is it a polo shirt and a nice tracksuit? Is it a standard of performance? To me it is like being 'professional'. 'Professional' doesn't mean you are making money, professional is the way you go about things.

People often ask me - how did you get into high performance. I answer that it was easy.
  1. I did a degree in exercise science - 'yep, that makes sense, I can do that'
  2. After university I had a variety of jobs coaching (mostly unpaid), refereeing, running coaches courses, etc that paid the bills - 'oh, well - I could do that for a bit I guess'
  3. I moved to a different state for 4 months and slept on the floor of a one bedroom apartment while earning $50 a week (about a dollar an hour I figured) - 'Umm.......really? you did that'?
  4. I was unemployed for 4 years except for a job I had as a secretary/typist for psychiatrists at the State 'hospital' for the criminally insane - 'what? you did what?'
  5. Then I got a paid 'scholarship' (similar to an internship) in a different city where I relied on the generosity of a friend who put me up in a furnished room for 3 months for free on one day's notice - 'wow - that was nice of them'
  6. And I've been employed in high performance sport for 25 years since then - 'ummm....good for you, but you lost me at 'I was unemployed for 4 years''
I'm not telling that story for sympathy, or credit, or anything else really, its just a story. Maybe if I was better at coaching it wouldn't have taken me so long? Who knows. But I know it didn't matter to me how long it took. I was committed to working in high performance sport and everything I did was to achieve that. I made no deliberate 'sacrifice', and over time I earned a string of gradually expanding opportunities.

My point? My point is that one of the biggest obstacles to High Performance (or professionalism) is the idea that, if YOU build it, I will come. That is: I want to 'do High Performance' and as soon as YOU build me a great gym, organise medical support, cool t-shirt shirts, a logo and an Instagram account, then I'll be 100% committed! In my experience it happens the other way around. If you want to be involved in 'high performance', start operating like a 'high performance program'. The biggest problem is not that it is difficult to do this, but that it requires a leap of faith.

High Performance is a dream for many - unachievable for most. But in my experience, which is now apparently 25 years, the people who have been successful in High Performance are the ones who decided to 'do' HP before they were 'in' HP. They developed athletes and built up programs to a point where others wanted to join in. Their programs were recognised, as were their athletes. In some situations they accepted jobs in established high performance programs, in others they chose to remain in charge of their own. For every one of these people there are dozens who have talked about wanting to 'get involved', but, once they found out how hard it was, decided not to. That's fine - its certainly not for everyone. You have to want to do it.

As for Field of Dreams - what great movie. Its got sport. Its got,....ghosts. Its got talking things that whisper information to people. What are they? Not completely sure - ghosts I guess - though not exactly - more like an ethereal voice sending messages to scoreboards - so I'm not sure what that is really.

Anyway - if you build it they will come. That's the key message - not the ghosts.

(Photo Credit)


  1. Great article. Finally somebody put it into words.

  2. Great article. Finally somebody put it into words.


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