We were delighted to have Ireland hockey international star Róisín Upton back with us in one of our recent virtual coffee sessions. Not only is she great friend of Metis Ireland and our Brand Ambassador, Róisín was in the Ireland team that played in the 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup final – and has clocked up 76 Irish caps. A phenomenal achievement.
Invest in hope
We started these sessions as a way of linking business with all walks of life. But, it’s often high-performance sport where we see the clearest links. As we know from our own business, the pandemic has created a huge amount of uncertainty for everyone. So knowing that the Irish Hockey team were due to play at the Olympics last year – and wondering if it will even happen this year – we wanted to ask Róisín how she and the team deals with that uncertainty.
“We’re all dealing with a fear of the unknown at the moment,” she observed, “and all we have to do is cling to some bit of familiarity. The first thing that gives me a reason to get up and train every morning is hope – and that’s hope that the Olympics will happen. Just like at Metis Ireland, you hope for the best and plan for the worst. So you make sure you have a Plan B, Plan C, or even Plan D. Then once you have that contingency you can park it and really focus on training in the hope that the Olympics will go ahead.”
Find your why
In business, we’re often so busy focusing on the here and now, that it’s easy to forget the long-term goals. But if you’re training for a World Cup or the Olympics, those really are long-term goals that you’re working towards. So we asked Róisín, how does the team manage to focus on all the right things now to ensure they’re ready for those big events?
She told us, “Once you have those long-term goals, it’s about setting the smaller milestones in between. But any goal starts with a ‘why’. Why did you watch that documentary or read that book? Was it recommended to you? Are you just reading it or watching it to finish it – or do you actually want to get something out of it? It’s the same with long-term goals. Your ‘why’ is the most important thing. When we set goals as a team, we start out with our realistic goals. Then we have a stretch goal, something that we’d really like to achieve. And then we have a big, hairy, audacious goal. They’re all rooted back in that ‘why’.”
Your goal isn’t your destination
Goals are all well and good, but as Róisín sagely reminded us, they’re not the be-all and end-all. Backwards as that may sound, in practice it makes perfect sense.
“Covid has taught me that there’s no arrival at a goal,” she told us. “I’m always planning what’s next, and I very rarely enjoy the process and the progress as much as I should. It’s like working for retirement and wasting your whole life in between.”
This is something many of us are guilty of – how often do you work towards a goal with only that end point in mind, and forget to enjoy the time in between? Think of things like studying for a degree, or planning a wedding, or dragging your heels through your work week focused only on the fun you’ll have at the weekend, or, as in Róisín’s example, planning for retirement. The end goal is great and enjoyable, but there are so many smaller achievements and experiences involved in the process that deserve to be enjoyed and noticed and felt, too.
“A World Cup is great,” Róisín emphasised, “but it’s a high that probably lasts a couple of days and crashes back down to reality pretty much straight away. So it’s the days in between that really matter. And I suppose it’s the perspective that even now, if the Olympics don’t go ahead, that I’m in a very fortunate position. I’m getting to train, and get through this pandemic, doing what I love. And I’m very aware of that.”
If you enjoyed reading this, we’ll be sharing more from this interview soon. This time, asking Róisín about the importance of relationships and taking time out.
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