The 3 Elements of Success

by: Ian Henderson

The World Cup has come around again one more time. England‘s football team went off to South Africa with players, media and supporters all daring to believe that this was the year. Yes, this was the year when the World Cup would be coming home to its rightful place.

However, as I write this article, things do not look that promising. Two draws with lesser opposition means that we must beat Slovenia to stand any realistic hope of getting to the knockout stage, much less win the tournament. For those readers who are not English and/or do not follow football, this situation of unfulfilled promise is not an unusual one for us long-suffering England supporters.

But, it has got me thinking about what it takes to succeed in such an arena as the World Cup or the Olympics and I am reminded of Marilyn King. King was an American pentathlete who appeared in the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games.

While preparing for the ill-fated 1980 Olympics, Marilyn King suffered a back injury which resulted in her being bed-ridden for over four months and unable to train physically for her third Olympic games.

Rather than feel sorry for herself, she spent most of that time watching films of successful pentathletes, visualizing and feeling herself going through the same events. After using only mental training techniques, she came second at the Olympic trials for the Moscow Games, despite having any physical preparation.

Laid in her bed King could have been forgiven for feeling sorry for herself. But she didn’t. Instead she formulated her recipe for Olympic success as being vision plus passion plus action; three things that were notable by their absence from England‘s performance against the USA and Algeria.

Vision is being absolutely clear about your objective or goal. It is claimed that as many as 19 out of 20 people do not have such clarity and so get blown about by the winds of life, reacting to events on a daily basis lacking any kind of focus.

Having passion means to have true commitment rather than a compliance to an end in mind. Statistics from the Corporate Leadership Council claim that only 1 in 10 people are truly committed to their work, with 76% being compliant to one degree or another.

Taking action is essential for success. Without action, nothing of consequence happens.

As Marilyn King puts it:

  • If you have passion and vision but you do not take action, you are a daydreamer.
  • If you have vision and action but you have no passion, you will be mediocre.
  • If you have passion and you take action but you have no vision, you will achieve the wrong goal.
  • But, if you have a clear vision, passion and you take action your chances of success will be high.

About The Author
Ian Henderson is a highly experienced trainer, consultant and speaker. In a 20 year career he has worked with thousands of people from a wide range of organizations in the UK, the USA, Europe and Africa.

He is the director of training of Eagle Training Ltd, one of the UK’s leading management and leadership training companies. For more information go to

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