Sergey Bubka was a Ukrainian pole vaulter (retired in 2001) who held the indoor world record from the 21st of February 1993 to the 15th of February 2014.

Sergey held the record for 21 years!

Do you think Sergey, when he was competing at the World Championships or Olympics, ever asked the officials to lower his vault heights in order to win a medal safely? The alternative was to “go for gold” and risk the chance of not making the height.

Once Sergey’s self-expectations and drive for success had reached a certain level there was simply no going back to a ‘safe’ place; a place that no longer holds a challenge or thrill.

Are you holding yourself in your safe place?

There is an old adage that says:

If you are not going forward you are actually going backwards, as nothing ever stays still.

Science helps to explain some of this biologically. We know that learning helps to physically create and link new brain synapses. However if we don’t continue to exercise our brain those connections can become loose, and eventually be lost.

Why you should focus on perfecting the 20%

The Pareto Principle was named after an Italian economist – Vilfredo Pareto – who discovered in 1896 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. He went on to find that for many events 80% of the effects/result come from 20% of the causes.

How does the Pareto Principle apply to Sergey and his pole vaulting?

From my observations of high performance I suggest that 80% of Sergey’s success came from 20% of the things he did perfectly. Maybe it was:

  • His physical preparation
  • His mental preparation including pre-event rituals
  • His vaulting technique
  • Or some other secret

The point is that all Sergey’s pole vaulting competitors would have had the same things to think about and potential strategies to implement. But they did not have his edge.

Why is that?

For me this raises two important questions:

  1. Can we study and role model what champions do and in doing so find our own ‘edge’? Clearly the answer is yes because that’s what the person who beat his record did, Renaud Lavillenie in 2014.
  2. Can you discover the 20% of things that really make a difference for your performance? Absolutely! Of course you can. And then you could fly over your own performance bar.

If you would like help to discover the ‘20% factors’ in your business why not get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.