“Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.”

The above is often attributed to a Navy Seal. However, interestingly, the quote has also been attributed to the Greek lyrical poet, Archilochus, which does show that this is a discussion piece as old as time. It also perhaps illustrates the point that most struggle with pressure and change; more than we admit?

It is thought that Archilochus probably served as a soldier. According to ancient tradition, however, he fought against Thracians on the mainland near Thasos and died when the Thasians were fighting against soldiers from the island of Naxos.

Essentially, this quote suggests that success is based on the human ability to train to the point that when faced with a critical situation someone has practiced responses so many times that it has become an immediate reaction occurring without thought. One can see this from the world of sport where the level of skill and capability has so obviously developed with skilled coaching; where players are coached almost every day of their careers. Shouldn’t we have the same philosphy in business?

The saying however, is more apt for this moment in time as it can also be interpreted in a broader fashion, used to reflect one’s ability to change. The pandemic has illustrated just how hard it has been for many to change their mind-set and adapt any model. It is becoming a common discussion piece that the industry has waited till the final minute before it changes. There are almost two groups emerging at this time; those who see a vision of the future and responding to the customer and those still relying on past models. Who is right? Time will tell. It does bring to mind the old joke “How many people does it take to change a light bulb? One. But the light bulb has to want to change.”

How do we adjust and adapt to the new landscape? How many are adjusting and how many do have new ideas for the future?

Of course, all change takes time. Research has shown it takes over two months of regular practice for a new habit to become established. This means that to establish a positive habit that takes the place of a negative habit takes even longer and that resisting the undesirable way of behaving is not enough. It is a problem we all witness in every day life. How often do we all fail as we try to change our own behaviours and habits? This is exactly why training and a growth mind-set is so important today. The world is evolving at such a fast pace that we all are being challenged to change all the time but it is the hardest of challenges. It is understandable that many want to stay loyal to past models.

Change will only take place with greater investment back into new learning and developing of mind-sets. One can argue that the greatest level of investment needs to happen at board level as this is where mind-sets are so entrenched but this is so rare.