Maintaining momentum after the Invictus Games
Following a visit in 2013 to the US-based Warrior Games for wounded, ill and injured military personnel and veterans, Prince Harry was inspired to create an expanded international version. The first inaugural Invictus Games took place in London in the fall of 2014 and attracted more than 400 competitors from 13 nations. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to participate in these games as captain of the Recurve archery team and won two medals - a Gold and a Silver. For me, the Invictus Games were a life-changing experience that I’ll never forget.
This week, 3 years later, 550 individuals are competing in Toronto.Watching this year’s Games, I’ve spent time reflecting on my own experience and how it changed me. Specifically, I took away three important personal lessons from competing:
1. Believe in yourself – have confidence in what you do
2. Grasp opportunities – embrace the support from others
3. Look forward – think about what’s next. How will you keep your momentum going?
Here I’m going to focus on the final lesson – keeping the momentum going. Before the games, many of the competitors felt forgotten about and learnt to suffer in silence. Through the Invictus Games we were given access to superb coaching staff who, over the process of 6 months, prepared us and helped us set goals. We were continuously learning and growing and had the motivation and support of those around us. Through this process I observed a change in both in myself and others to a much stronger and driven mindset.
Despite this, I believe that the games were just the beginning. For me, the critical moments were those after the games. Post-Games blues hit a lot of people and efforts were made to ensure that the psychological improvement experienced by the competitors was not lost. For example, the leaders of the Invictus Games felt it was important to set goals for the competitors post-Games in order to encourage the continuation of their psychological momentum. Ensuring that this momentum continues and that the competitors continue to grow and succeed was vital in preventing individuals regressing back to their pre-Games state.
Additionally, it’s known that attitudes underlie psychological momentum. When someone succeeds, they develop a positive attitude. This attitude results in increased confidence levels and self-belief. Then, as a result of these changes, they are more likely to succeed further. Therefore, the importance of individuals’ attitudes at the end of the games is very important, as it shapes how individuals continue to develop. Are they feeling a drive to succeed or are they deflated now the games are over?
Why does this matter for you?
Psychological momentum is an interesting concept. Whilst the majority of research into psychological momentum has focused on its role in sporting situations, I believe that psychological momentum may have a similar effect in organisational environments.
So, as a leader what can you do to develop psychological momentum? It comes down to creating positive attitudes which in turn can boost confidence levels and self-belief. Here are my top tips:
1. Role model – if you want people to have a positive attitude, it starts with you
2. Reframe tough challenges or obstacles as opportunities for success
3. Identify and celebrate successes, no matter how small
Follow the example set by those in the Invictus Games and continue the psychological momentum beyond the first hurdle. Whether in sport or business, having a positive attitude and striving to achieve new goals is pivotal for further success. Remember: believe in yourself, grasp opportunities and keep the momentum going.