(This article will shortly appear in Business2Business, a business magazine for Banbury, Buckingham and Bicester)
How often were you impressed by someone’s performance in the London Olympics? How often have you witnessed spectacular performance in business? A key factor in outstanding performance is usually determination, which is one of the seven ideals of the Olympics according to the International Olympic Committee.
You need to be determined when others say ‘you can’t,’ or ‘it won’t work,’ or ‘it’s not worked before,’ or ‘there are too many hurdles,’ or even, ‘it’s too late.’
One of the most determined business people I have come across is Jonathan Tuck, a metallurgist and engineer. I met him five months ago. He is now a friend, and an inspiration to me – and I hope to you.
When he was aged eight he crashed his bike while cycling one afternoon with a friend. He cracked his head open, and was in a coma for two weeks. When he awoke, he was paralysed, unable to move or talk. All he could do was see, hear, think and twiddle some fingers. He was scared. Once he had recovered he was told that he would have to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life. But he thought: “I jolly well won’t.” And he didn’t. He did, however, have to undergo many operations for the next ten years.
That early courage and determination has remained with him ever since. It has enabled him to survive several reverses in his career. A few years ago he invested in a business venture that collapsed. Undaunted he picked himself up and strove on. He tells me that he always wins in the end, and he does.
A much more public example of business determination is that of Sir Stuart Rose. When he took over as CEO of M&S in 2004, the company was losing market share, and Sir Philip Green, CEO of Arcadia was eyeing up the company for takeover. Rose knew he had a battle ahead. He took up the challenge head on, infusing new energy into the business and refocusing it. His major decision was to make M&S more appealing to younger more fashion-conscious buyers. He did this by bringing in new designers, followed by a new advertising campaign. Suddenly M&S was no longer the store that your auntie went to but the shop where your daughter just had to go. The result was that M&S’s profits leapt back to more than £1bn, which it last had in 1997. So, don’t be daunted by your difficulties. Vision and determination will win through.