Last Updated on August 25, 2021 – 6:39 am

An Olympic medal usually means commitment, dedication, and a dream backed up by self-confidence. But, is it all that? Can we learn more from the games about training and development? Let’s introduce you to Mete Gazoz, a 22-year-old archer from Turkey who recently won Turkey’s first-ever Olympic gold medal in archery. “Since childhood, he would always say to his father, ‘Daddy, I know how you will go to the Olympics. I will go to the Olympics, I will win a gold medal, and you will watch me there’,” Gazoz’s mother, Meral, said in an interview. “He’s had that dream since he was little.” What is behind this success can tell us a lot about development and success in the workplace too.

Lesson #1 Grit and resilience are the critical factors behind success.

In a recent interview he has made for a youth mentorship program, Gazoz said these on talent and success: “Talent takes you above the average, hard work takes you above talent”, confirming the various research of famous Harvard academician Angela Lee Duckworth. Duckworth wrote a bestseller book called Grit and shifted many paradigms on our traditional metrics of success. According to her theory, based on years of teaching, research, and coaching, skill is the product of talent multiplied by the effort one puts into it. Achievement or success is taking that skill and putting more effort into it. “She discovered that those who were most successful had a common denominator: they were willing to fail. They stumbled forward through the wreckage even when things felt most wrecked. While others floundered in the failure, they forged ahead and, eventually, flourished. Success is always less about navigating arrival and more about navigating adversity”. Grit is mostly about having a growth mindset; if you want to learn more about it, check our article on growth mindset and employee development.

Lesson #2 Coaching can have a significant impact on planning a career.

Coaching is a development technique often used by L&D professionals as part of the development plans they create. The coach can help an employee overcome specific problems, achieve goals while also providing feedback to improve. In Mete Gazoz’s case, it is his father, Metin-a former national archer- who acted as his coach. He credits his father, Metin, for planning various stages of his career. Mete first picked up a bow at the age of three but very soon started a series of extracurricular activities to support his abilities. “Under Metin’s supervision, Mete took a swimming course until the age of 8 to strengthen his shoulders, which is a key strength in high-quality archery. On his father’s advice, Mete also played basketball to improve his coordination skills and use them in archery. To improve his eyesight and attention span, Mete took a painting course for one year and a piano course to enhance his eye-hand coordination.” Impressive, huh? Well, many different organizations use coaching in developing skills such as strategic thinking, innovation, decisiveness, etc., in the workplace, and they also help a lot. Chris Woodruff calls coaching a powerful catalyst for transforming performance because coaching is not just a remedial intervention for poor performance. It is a way to help an employee perform better. No wonder a third of all Fortune 500 companies utilize Executive Coaching as standard leadership development for their elite executives and talented up-and-comers.

Lesson #3 Planning makes the activities of employees meaningful.

To realize his dream, Mete needed a concrete plan: A highly detailed training schedule that ensures he reaches specific goals. He says, as a young archer for the last five years, he had to practice 10 hours a day to overcome the experience gap, but he also knew that he had to be completely focused on meeting each day’s training goals. That means planning also made his activities meaningful to him, that he had a goal, and to achieve that, he needed to do certain things each day and every day for future success. According to J.P. Mahajan and Ravindra Singh, planning makes activities of employees meaningful: “A clear understanding of the objectives helps the employees know what they are supposed to do and how their work is related to organizational goals. This enables them to direct their efforts towards the achievement of goals and makes them feel valued for the organization.” And as for the L&D professionals, planning also has this double meaning of thinking about the future but focusing on the present. “The most effective L&D professionals use a similar two-tiered approach to training. They focus on immediate needs like onboarding new hires, closing skills gaps, and ensuring people know how to use the tools that make the business run. But at the same time, they also design learning programs for the long-term needs of the business like succession planning, leadership development, and innovation” much like Gazoz’s training.

Before we finish, one bonus tip from Mete Gazoz: Smiling and keeping a positive attitude in whatever condition you are. “Imagine you’re in the Olympic final, drawing your bow, and some dude behind you is grinning from ear to ear. I owe 80% of this medal to the smile,” he told Reuters, a large gold medal around his slender neck.” 

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