5 Ways You Can Fly Like An Eagle

eddie the eagle.jpeg

After a fairly hectic week with some late work day training sessions, and a busy weekend to boot, I was looking for a way to wind down on my Sunday night to give myself a bit of R&R. One of my favourite past times is to watch a great movie. None of my regulars were grabbing me, so I decided to scroll through and pick out a new movie to watch that I hadn’t seen before. My Pick – Eddie The Eagle. I thought it looked inspirational and was also relevant given the current Winter Olympics.

I had not been a particular fan of winter sports (not being a fan of the cold – Brrrr) and had not in fact heard of Eddie The Eagle. However I found the movie really inspirational.

The movie is loosely based on Eddie (Michael) Edwards, who overcomes adversity to be a ski jumper at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. The movie tells the story of a young boy (the son of a plasterer) who desperately wants to compete in the Olympics – and he does not care initially in what event. As a boy, he wore callipers on his legs and when they are removed, he tries every sport imaginable (from holding his breathe underwater, to high jumping, to hurdles) but without any success. He finally turns his attention to winter sports and skiing and after a lot of hard work and dedication only narrowly misses out on making the Olympic team. So he turns his attention to Ski Jumping and being Britain’s first Olympic Ski Jumper.

Everybody told him he couldn’t do it, even his father. But he wanted this so badly. He overcame adversity including a significant crash after a very bad landing, working different jobs and sleeping in broom closets, and ridicule from peers. But he didn’t care – he just wanted to be an Olympian.

When Eddie finally qualified, he was so overjoyed. He had already fulfilled his dream, even before he competed, and when he arrived, he won the crowd over with his joyful enthusiasm at just competing.

When he did compete, Eddie the Eagle finished last in all three of his jumps at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, but what he did do was manage to beat his own personal record. His responses to achieving his personal best jumps, were overt displays of joy and exuberance, flapping his wings in front of an adoring crowd. He didn’t care about coming last, he cared about competing and achieving his best.

"You have captured our hearts. And some of you have soared like eagles," remarked Frank King, the games' chief executive, during a speech at the closing ceremonies. 

In my opinion, Eddie showed the true nature of a growth mindset:

“He didn’t want to be THE best. He wanted to do HIS best”

 I think we could all learn a lot about ourselves from this great little flick. Think about these opportunities to fly like an eagle and embrace a growth mindset.

1)   Run your own race

Stop comparing yourself to others and their success. Define what you want your personal success to look like. Start to run your own race and derive joy from being better than you were yesterday.

2)   Embrace a challenge

Step outside your comfort zone and get comfortable being uncomfortable. Recognise that you will come out stronger on the other side and learn a lot about yourself and how to tap into your strengths.

3)   Persist in the face of setbacks

Don’t let obstacles or setbacks discourage you from your path. Recognise your self-image is not tied to your success and how you look to other people. A setback or perceived failure is just another opportunity to learn. So whatever happens, you still win.

4)   Put in the Effort

We may have natural talent or none at all. But the only way to mastery is effort and lots of it. Effort is necessary to grow and build skill and capability, so sweat and tears are a must.

5)   Criticism is just another source of information

We often smart when receiving criticism or negative feedback and shy away from it. But if we embrace a growth mindset and see criticism as information that we can use to grow and improve, then we can start to recognise that negative feedback does not have to be directed about us as a person, but about our current level of skill and ability – and this we can always improve with effort.

So, when we have a growth mindset, we can create positive feedback loops that encourage us to keep learning and improving and run our own race.

If you are interested in developing your growth mindset, contact me at michelle@bakjacconsulting.com

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.