In the 2012 America’s Cup Regatta, the New Zealand crew was leading the American crew by 8 races to 1 and only had to win one more race. One more win to take home the oldest trophy in world sport. The evening before the next day’s racing, James Spithill, captain of the American crew, was asked how he can stay motivated in the face of certain defeat. Spithill’s response was telling in more than only his response.

“I think the question is: imagine if these guys lost from here? What an upset that would be. They have almost got it in the bag.”

“That’s my motivation. That would be one hell of a story, that would be one hell of a comeback and that’s the sort of thing that I’d like to be part of. We feel we have got just as much chance of winning this and we are going to do everything we can.”

James Spithill, Team Oracle

Facing match point at 8-1, the US crew led by Spithill, clawed their way back and then simply powered their way past the Kiwis with increasing power and precision to win 9-8 on the scoreboard. What the Oracle crew achieved, is widely recognised as the biggest comeback ever in the history of international sport.

“To come from behind, these guys just showed so much heart… They are so great . . . to be facing the barrel of the gun at 8-1 what did the guys do? They didn’t even flinch.”

James Spithill, Team Oracle

Where Spithill rose to the occasion and accepted the challenge and motivation to “win it from here”, the competition crumbled. No doubt Spithill is an amazing talent and high performer. He is a World Sailor of the Year, Australian Sailor of the Year, and the youngest skipper to win the America’s Cup, which he won twice and consecutively (2010 & 2013). Yet more than his skill and talent, was his grit and a mindset, that focussed on the task at hand. Rather than focussing on the competition, Spithill focused on the performance required to win. His mind was clear of any negative ‘clutter‘ and zoomed in on his performance and the performance of the crew, and the result would take care of itself.

It’s not unusual, in business, life and sport, to be faced with what appears to be insurmountable challenges. What’s your strategy? How do you prepare your mind set for that big meeting, negotiation or race?

Join me with 6 x Olympic strength & performance coach Mick Miller, for an introduction into how the world’s best prepare their mind set for high performance. It’s a virtual meeting held on Zoom, and you can register via clicking on the links below.

High Performance Mindset Introduction (USA & ANZ)

When: Aug 15, 2020 10:00 PM Zurich – mid to late afternoon USA time

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEvcO2urDgtHd1Z2HxWGEUuicdySDZ3f9To

High Performance Mindset Introduction (Europe & ANZ)

When: Aug 22, 2020 11:00 AM Zurich – afternoon & evening in Australia and New Zealand

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZApdOupqzovGdYrPvdDKMOMeKn7OcSlVEow

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Bill Chambers is a High Performance Coach, helping executives and athletes in their pursuit of excellence.

Photos by Getty images. Video curtsey of YouTube.