What leaders can learn from Olympians: Jana Pittman

People Make the Difference threw a party to celebrate our first business birthday and invited Jana Pittman to spend some time talking to us about what she’s learnt about teamwork and leadership throughout her sporting career and now into her venture into the world of medicine.

Goal Setting

When it comes to goals, we all know how important it is to set that big, ultimate goal to aspire to, but throughout her career, Jana shared how important every little goal is, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time: “celebrating all those little wins along the way can make that big scary goal even more attainable.”

No matter how big or small the goal she said it was always about running through the finish line: “My trainer pulled me up one day when he noticed I slowed up in practice meets just ahead of the finish line. When you set a standard for what you want to achieve and what you want to get out of something, if it’s a training session or a business goal or whatever it is, it’s about making sure you complete it every day, so you never take those little shortcuts.”

Failing Hard

For all her stories of sporting success, Jana had plenty of tales to tell about her failures as well. One of the biggest lessons she had to learn was how to overcome the feelings of doubt and anxiety that appeared when she got her first chance to run against Cathy Freeman. After watching Freeman warming up, Jana became so nervous and convinced herself that she didn’t deserve to run against her and that if she did, she would fail colossally.

“These thoughts just rolled over and rolled over and rolled over and rolled over in my head, and in fact, when she went back into the call room, I stayed out of it. I heard them call my name … and utter fear wouldn’t allow me to move out of that spot … I lost the most incredible opportunity of my life.”

Ever since, Jana has known that she has choice: “All of us have a choice … I always go into a race scared, but in my mind I say, ‘Well, it’s a choice Jana, you can run today and win or you can run and come last but isn’t it better than not being there at all?’”

For Jana, failing has become as important as succeeding and she believes her failures are helping her to celebrate her successes even more.

Lead by Example

As she finished up, Jana gave every leader some very useful advice when it comes to leading our teams by example and setting them up for further success:

“If you want someone to do something, you need to be able to do it yourself and be prepared to do it yourself. If we want someone to be able to fill our shoes, we can’t be scared of them passing us, we actually have to bring them up to be equal to us so that the whole industry works well together.”

If you’re ready to start taking her advice and kick-start your team, People Make the Difference can help you with training workshops, one-on-one coaching and Coach On Call services. To find out more, call us on 0412 333 415 or visit peoplemakethedifference.com.au.