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The Key to High Performance

Steve Smith

21 July 2015

Steve Smith is one of our co-founders and Directors; as one of the country’s leading performance and development companies, we work with organisations to design and deliver cutting-edge learning solutions. He is also an Olympic medalist, being the first British High Jumper to take a global medal in over 100 years at the Atlanta games. To give you some great performance insight, we asked Steve what he thinks is key to peak performance.


What I consider to be key to the world of high performance business and sport is adaptability and the ability to make change happen by adopting an entrepreneurial attitude; an innovative outlook to gain the edge on your competitors. Tough markets and challenging environments are something we come across in both business and sport, what sets winners apart is the ability to think differently.

One person who thought differently in my event is Dick Fosbury, the man who created the ‘Fosbury Flop’ High Jump technique at the 1968 Olympic Games. At the time everyone said the technique was too dangerous – it was radically different – some critics said it would wipe out a generation of High Jumpers. However, 80,000 people waited with baited breath in the Olympic stadium waiting for the first glimpse of the iconic moment where Fosbury revolutionised my event forever; he was a skinny High Jumper who couldn’t get to where he needed to be using conventional methods – he had no choice but to adapt and the world would follow.

The amazing thing that transpired from that level of innovation and that level of change in my sport were the people who were left behind; their attitude to change was remarkable. Even though the world had changed and the environment of the sport had moved on, there were still athletes who where quoted as saying – ‘I don’t do the Fosbury Flop’. It was clear that this was the way forward, but they refused to adopt this new tactic. There’s a brilliant quote from Dick Fosbury that sums up people’s attitude to change:

“The problem with something revolutionary like that was that most elite athletes had invested so much time in their technique and movements that they didn’t want to give it up, so they stuck with what they knew.”

I don’t know if that sounds familiar, but we come across this time and time again in business and in sport – the people who refuse to change, the people who won’t change and the people who will never change. If we are to compete in an ever challenging market then we absolutely have to change. Change is the difference between fading away stuck in the past like some of those competitors who nobody’s heard of and blazing the trail of innovation, doing things differently and leaving a leadership legacy behind us, just like Dick Fosbury did.


Steve Smith is still Britain’s most successful ever high jumper, having won a medal in every major championship including the Olympic Games and his British record has now stood for 20 years.

 Click here for more information on Steve, or to book him as a speaker for your next event, drop our team an email at

Steve Smith


Steve Smith is one of the most sought-after speakers with extensive experience of working with leading corporate organisations Raising the Bar for clients across the globe for over 20 years. He is a former Academy of Chief Executives speaker of the year.

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