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  • Writer's picturePyry Salmela

Race event number 200


Austin Formula 1 GP was my 200th race event in a row as a F1 Performance Coach. So many great memories but also some tough ones at work and beyond that has given perspective and humility towards life.


Going back to the beginning, one phone call changed my life, and this is 10 years and 200 races after. When I started, it felt like I knew nothing and I often think, wish I had known what I know now. Therefore, I thought I would share few skills sets that I pay high attention to, something that I wish I had known when I started my career and maybe it can help you, in your mission. Let’s go down to business…


Coaching Eye


Whether you are a team leader or just a member of any team, probably the number one skill I value is the “game eye”. The game eye or the coaching eye is the skill that enables you to read the environment or an individual. You know those people that somehow reads the game better than others, knows when to push, knows when to ease. Ultimately, knows how to get the best out of themselves and people around.


I do understand how important it is to understand methodologies, however I do believe it’s difficult to make a huge difference with a book in hand, because likely your enemy has read the same book. For instance, what do you think, who makes the most money in the stock market, the one that follows the book or the one that knows how to read the flow of the market? I bet, the one that has read the book but has that magic smell what’s happening around and has the ability to read two steps forward.


I admire people that are good at collecting and putting data into work. My advice is, let that information educate you, not interfere the development of your coaching eye. An easy example, how many athletes does their personal best in their main competition, not so many. If it was so easy, everyone would be doing it. There are just days where it doesn’t work like a Swiss clock and that’s where you need your intuition.


The challenge with all this is, I don’t think there is a fast forward approach at developing that skill, experience is by far the best teacher of developing your game eye. Secondly, I believe it’s one of those skills that yes, you can develop it through various pathways, but some people just have a more natural ability of being good at it.


Prioritizing


The bigger the dream is, the more complex it’s going to get. Whether you are a global elite sportsman or a CEO of a big company, I tell you, the time isn’t on your side. Meaning, the more successful you become, the more demand there will be and more people that wants your time. Therefore, I cannot address how important it is to understand what’s the most important things for you to succeed in business and personal life. You have 100 things, but only limited time, stop wasting time something that is 90th most important if you already struggle to invest enough time on your top 5 priorities.


You must understand, if you strive for consistent improvement, you must dedicate the time to practice it. Too often, I see people with an unrealistic expectation where there is an assumption that development is constant despite effort being less than it used to be. I'm not saying that you cannot improve with less work hours and high quality, but it's unfair to expect improvement in your skills if you are not ready to put the same or more work into practicing the actual skill.


One word for perfectionists, don’t get stuck on one thing for too long, because if one focuses on 1 thing out of 99, great, one thing came out great, the 99 other things never got done. An easy example, as you likely notice, English is not my native mother language and there is a chance that a word or two is incorrect from a grammar standpoint, but there is no way I'm going to use hours and hours to fix 'em all, because the to do list is long and time is limited. Point being, choose your battles.


Lastly, most of the times I choose to use the methods that provides autonomy and efficiency. I have a very easy example, I love the Oura ring for tracking sleep and readiness, because it’s so easy, I don’t have to test, it does it on its own, I just charge it once a week.


In conclusion, the reason why target setting is so important, because then you have a vision and when you have a vision, you can build a plan that enables you to understand what’s the most important elements on your path to reach your goals, be logical.



Culture


How to create a winning team in business or sports? When I was a young athlete, I always wondered what made the special ones so special? Over the years I’ve met quite a few of them, in business and sports and honestly, I cannot tell one common factor that separates them from the rest. However, I do see a very common thing, they are able to face the fears and their task specific skill or intelligent is superior to the rest. I emphasize the word task specific intelligent, which means being good at their field of expertise doesn’t make them automatically intelligent everywhere.


Second interesting thing I see very often, those top performers or organizations have the right people behind the scenes that are the backbone of the business. Sometimes those people are mentors, parents or your partner at home, but with almost all of them, they have their people that makes them better than they do alone. Therefore, invest in your people.


Concerning leadership culture, undoubtedly a very effective way of leading a team is the high-pressure fear culture. The problem with that is, yes, you’ll push your limits and might do something that you didn’t believe you could but that ain’t sustainable, the fuse gets burnt sooner than later. I would say, for the experience, swimming in the deep ocean is worth the grind, but only for a period of time and jump out the train before it’s too late.


At the same time, low challenge with low standards ain’t success formula. Although I have to say, I’m not a big believer on that dilemma that people are obsessed about being always on time and works like a Swiss clock. Nonetheless, I do believe that we are the result of our standards. Meaning, the people that are ready work while others are partying and the ones that keeps grinding while it’s uncomfortable, are the ones in my opinion that walks that ladder higher and further in the long run.


In conclusion, I believe the best mix is to have a group of hungry and forward-thinking individuals with high standards and strong vision in their head. The environment needs to be challenging, but it also needs to be supportive. Meaning, it’s okey to do a mistake but it’s not okey if it was due lack of interest or commitment.


It’s very important to remember that a high challenge environment needs to provide an opportunity for a high reward, a warm handshake isn’t enough. It makes me aggressive and frustrated when I see big companies setting huge expectations on people with very low reward. Asking a supercar for a price of a moped, totally criminal and it's ridiculous how often this still happens, every CEO still doing that should get their ass kicked big time. The truth is, no one will feel motivated for the long-term if the balance between reward and challenge is off and therefore the performance will never reach its full potential .


Lastly, but super importantly. The culture that values people’s personal life will have a much longer lifespan in "business". It’s easy to get blind and greedy when stone is hot, but I guarantee, if the culture neglects the importance of people’s personal life and energy for too long, no matter how good they are, they will end up miserable and will never perform at their full potential.


Final words...


If I was writing this article 10 years ago, I would have probably written about what’s the most effective workouts, what’s the frequency and so on. Over time, I’ve understood, it’s something else than that. I’m in hope that one day the knowledge has become wisdom and hopefully one day there is people that can use that on their path and do better than I've done.


Lastly, I’m 99% sure won’t do another 200 races, but it’s been life changing run so far and I try to enjoy whatever is left in the tank.


Best regards,

Pyry


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1 Comment


lorenzo balocco
lorenzo balocco
Oct 24, 2023

Hi Pyry, I've been following you on LinkedIn for several years now and I've always thought that one day I would like to become a performance coach like you.


This article intrigued me a lot because I have always noticed a certain professionalism in everything you do. I find great inspiration in what you wrote. Often,

in my studies I focus a lot on theoretical notions but actually that's not all there is. Having a more open vision is not easy but getting suggestions like this, makes me understand that there is always more to learn. I hope I can reach this level and in the meantime I thank you for your reflection


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