27 Lunch and learn: How to win – the little tip that makes a big difference

Written by  //  May 1, 2012  //  Daily Juice  //  No comments

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Today’s lunch is inspired by a newsletter that popped into my inbox just a few minutes ago from Carrie at the Female Entrepreneur Association.

mary peters_New

If you don’t know the Female Entrepreneur Association it’s worth a look – it’s a great place to share your business story and read everyone else’s! (Link to the Facebook page is here)

Anyway, Carrie told a story in her newsletter which I thought was so fabulous that I’ve bumped today’s original blog to make way for it. Here it is:

In 1964, aged 25, Mary (now Dame Mary Peters) made it into the Olympic squad to compete in the pentathlon.  When she arrived at her room in Tokyo her two roommates were making a noise banging nails into the wall. She asked what they were doing and they told her that they were putting nails in the wall so that they could hang up their gold medals when they won. They gave Mary a nail and told her to put hers in the wall too – but she never did it. That year Mary finished 4th, while her two roommates won gold medals.

In 1968 she made it into the Olympic squad again, when she turned up to her room she still had the nail that the two girls had given her, but once again, she didn’t put the nail in the wall. That year she finished 9th.

In 1972, aged 33, she managed to make it into the Olympic team once again. This time when she got to her room she hammered the nail into the wall. Guess what happened? She won the gold medal.

Today’s lunch: what is it?

Quite simply, a suggestion to go and find your ‘nail’

Why it works

Psychology in a nutshell: self belief is a self-fulfilling prophecy!

You probably know a few people for whom the expression ‘everything they touch turns to gold’ was written for. Well they have oodles of self belief.

And self belief is what the ‘nail’ gave Mary. It works. If you want to read an amazing experiment on self belief and the self-fulfilling prophecy have a look at this.

What you do

This is fun, you get to think about what your version of ‘hammering-a-nail-to-the-wall-to-hold-your-gold-medal’ is.

1. Set your ‘gold medal’ goal

First of all you need to have a clear goal. Don’t make it something too huge and far away. Although the gold medal for Mary was a massive achievement the gold medal event was very close and she had been training for it.


So your goal could be a book publishing deal if you have already written sample chapters, but if not if you haven’t yet lifted pen to paper!

2. Find a physical action that represents your belief that you will achieve the goal

There are lots of fun things you can do here, such as:




    • Write an acceptance speech for an award you hope to win (The Oscars, anyone?)
    • Buy an outfit to wear for the TV show you want to appear on


or you could take a more serious approach such as:


    • Sell your product before you have built it! (Take advance orders)
    • Hire an employee now to help you manage the 50% increase in sales you aim to make next quarter

3. Ignore the voice that whispers the words ‘tempting fate’

It’s the reason many of us don’t hang the nail, write the acceptance speech or buy the dress, we are worried about ‘tempting fate’.


Unfortunately, as with Mary and the nail, when we don’t write the speech because we ‘probably won’t win’ we are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure, eugh! Try not to do it. It’s hard, but as a business owners we need to be at least cautiously optimistic.

So have some fun, find your nail, and go win your medal!


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