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(2009-05-09 17:40:21)




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作者:英国《金融时报》专栏作家斯蒂芬•斯特恩(Stefan Stern) 2009-04-20


回想一下你做过的最重要的一次商务陈述,把它的重要性乘上100倍,你就可以想象出,当塞巴斯蒂安•科(Sebastian Coe)在2005年7月的新加坡起身向国际奥委会(IOC)做伦敦申办2012年奥运会的陈述时,他作何感受了。

Think about the most important business presentation you have ever had to make. Then multiply its importance 100 times. Now you know how Sebastian Coe felt when he rose to present London's bid to host the 2012 Olympic games to the International Olympic Committee in Singapore in July 2005.


It probably helped that the former athlete was used to high-pressure situations – Olympic finals, for example. Years of preparation and hard work had led to those few most intense moments.

准备工作对科勋爵(Lord Coe)那天在新加坡取得成功至关重要。他还意识到,只有展现出个人的感染力才会使国际奥委会相信,伦敦的申办要比主要对手——巴黎和马德里——更具实力。

Preparation was key to Lord Coe's success that day in Singapore as well. That, and the realisation that only a personal appeal would persuade the IOC that London's bid was stronger than those being made by its main rivals, Paris and Madrid.


“[These presentations] are choreographed to within an inch of their lives, but they have to be personal,” he explains. The planning paid off.


“It's those thousands of private moments that go to the one big public moment, whether it's in business, in sport or delivering a great speech across the despatch box [in parliament].”


Now 52, Lord Coe still looks track-ready fit and youthful – although he confesses that, these days, he is “12 or 13 pounds” heavier than when he was competing.


As chairman of the London 2012 games he has just over three years left to get everything ready. He is working flat out, but with the staying power that helped him break records and win titles through a long and successful athletics career.


Sporting heroes command our attention. They are the ultimate elite performers, displaying grace under pressure. It is tempting to believe that they have something to teach us, beyond advice on how to run faster or jump higher.


But do they? Lord Coe is the latest sporting great to offer insights in book form* for a wider, non-sporting readership. But while the contents may be of interest to business people and others, the author had a personal reason for wanting to get the book published.

科勋爵曾与父亲彼得•科(Peter Coe)一起着手撰写此书。在他竞技生涯的大部分时间里,父亲就是他的教练。但书稿尚未完成,老科就病倒了,并在儿子去年夏天飞往北京参加奥运会开幕式的不久之后去世。今天,科勋爵完成了这本书,并把它作为献给父亲的礼物。

He had started work on it with his father, Peter, his coach during most of his time in athletics. But before the text could be completed Coe senior fell ill. He died just after his son had flown out to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing games last summer. Now Lord Coe has completed the book. It is dedicated to his father.


Peter Coe was an extraordinary coach. He drove his son extremely hard, rejecting conventional wisdom and traditional training methods. As an engineer, he had started from first principles. Why go on endless, slow training runs when the aim of a middle distance runner is to become faster? Lots of sprints, repeated with minimal rest periods in between, helped develop the famous Coe turn of speed. “You're killing him,” a concerned onlooker once told him. “Yes, yes, I'm killing him – right the way to the top,” he replied.


But surely Lord Coe does not advocate adopting such a robust management style with every employee?


“Don't get me wrong, I don't want to paint this man as a complete psychopath – he wasn't,” he says. “He was incredibly calm and remarkably resilient. The consistency of his mental approach was something that was hugely helpful to me. There were never great highs, never great lows.”


As he writes in his book: “His view was always that good coaching is about building in obsolescence: the more you work with somebody the less you should be needed over time.


How can readers of the book translate some of these thoughts into the workplace? Perhaps Lord Coe's most helpful observations have to do with competition, and what it takes to be a winner.

体育迷们应该记得科勋爵与英国另两名中长跑巨星——史蒂夫•奥维特(Steve Ovett)及史蒂夫•克拉姆(Steve Cram)——之间的精彩对抗。科勋爵能不断受到激励创下新高,尤其要感谢奥维特。二人多年来的对决同百事(Pepsi)与可口可乐(Coca-Cola)、联合利华(Unilever)与宝洁(P&G)之间的竞争有点类似。二人互相打破了对方创下的世界纪录,并在奥运会上一决高下,分获800米和1500米金牌。

Sports fans will remember the wonderful rivalry Lord Coe had with Britain's other middle distance greats, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram. It was Ovett in particular who helped drive Coe on to new heights. A bit like Pepsi and Coca-Cola, or Unilever and Procter & Gamble, Coe and Ovett sparred and parried for many years. They swapped world records, and battled it out for Olympic gold over 800 and 1500 metres.


“I would never have admitted this 30 years ago,” Lord Coe says, “but of course the rivalry helped me.” The media loved it too. “I think you always need that competitive impetus,” he adds.


“Of course, good organisations can create that hunger to be better the next year than you are now. But there is a prim instinct about somebody snapping at your heels, and it doesn't hurt.”


What characterises the “winning mind” of the book's title? Winners are relentless, Lord Coe believes. They are always striving to get better at what they do. And they are robust. You would have to be, to absorb the sort of comments Peter Coe was heard to make, publicly, about his son when things went wrong. But Lord Coe never took the criticism personally. “Oh no,” he says, his eyes narrowing slightly, “you crave criticism, you absolutely crave it. I do now.”


Winners are not “normal”. “People who wake up on a Monday morning and at the end of the week they've covered 120 miles on the road and spent hours and hours in the gym and at training sessions, to the point where they can barely see straight – they are not by and large normal people,” he says. “People who watch competitors closely find that difficult to come to terms with, but that is actually the nature of competition; that is the nature of the people who deliver those performances.”


In some ways The Winning Mind is a fairly conventional business book, in that it contains the occasional statement of the obvious and the odd terrible sentence, for example: “There are times when there is a need to dig deep and find another gear – while never losing sight of the bigger picture.” (Well, he did say he craved criticism.)



But it also succeeds in presenting an intimate view of one of sport's great competitors, in a way that many readers will find highly stimulating.


Lord Coe does not mention the incident in the book, but his attitude was best borne out by his reaction after winning gold in the 1500 metres at the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles. Looking up at the press box, which contained all the experts who had written him off for months, he screamed out a rhetorical question: “Who says I'm finished?!”


“Yes, my mother barely spoke to me for three days afterwards,” Lord Coe admits. “She thought it was the most appalling display.”


*《胜者思维:培养鼓舞人心的领导力与赢取胜果》(The Winning Mind: Developing Inspirational Leadership and Delivering Winning Results),塞巴斯蒂安科著,Headline Books出版,价格14.99英镑

*The Winning Mind: Developing Inspirational Leadership and Delivering Winning Results, by Sebastian Coe (Headline Books, £14.99)


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