The Champions Mindset with Jeremy Snape

Jeremy Snape is an ex-England International Cricketer, since retiring from playing internationally,  he studied a master’s degree in sports psychology and has been a coach and advisor to business leaders, premier league football clubs, other international cricket teams as we the England Rugby Team. Now he is the CEO and Founder of Sporting Edge. In this amazing show you can learn about:

  • What does make a champion?
  • The valuable role mindset plays in performance
  • The common parallels in sporting champions that also are present in Business Leaders?
  • How neuroscience helps us and holds us back

Transcript:Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

The Leadership Hacker News

Steve Rush: There’s a mindset theme in today’s show. We’re going to explore to be a great leader you need the right mindset. So, the question, do organizations get the best bang for their buck from their leaders because mindset can sometimes hold them back. Well, research suggests that it’s likely because most organizations overlook the specific attribute that’s foundational to how leaders think and behave, which of course is our mindset. In some research conducted by a friend of the show Ryan Gottfredson, and if you missed our show is episode twenty-three, Success Mindsets. Well, he identified four distinct sets of mindsets that have been found to affect leader’s ability to engage with others. To navigate change and to perform in their roles more effectively.

So, we’re going to summarize those four different characteristics of mindsets to help you think and consider how you might rethink and reframe your own. Growth and fixed mindsets. Well decades of research have found, those with the growth mindset are more mentally prime to approach and take on challenges, take advantage of feedback and adopt the most effective problem-solving strategies and provide developmental feedback to those around them.

Learning and performance mindsets. Compared to those with a performance mindset. Leaders with a learning mindset are more mentally primed to increase their competence, engaging deep level learning strategies and seek out feedback to exert more effort. Deliberate and incremental mindsets. Leaders with a deliberate mindset of heightened perceptiveness, to change. Do you recognize it? And can you help them rethink and reframe how their mindsets either helping them or holding them back? Please keep sending in your stories, insights or nudges of ideas that you’d like us to talk about on the show. That’s been The Leadership Hacker News.

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Our special guest on today’s show is Jeremy Snape. He’s an ex-England international cricketer, and since retiring from playing international cricket, he studied a Master’s Degree in Sports Psychology, has been a coach and advisor to business leaders, premier league football clubs, or international cricket teams, as well as the England Rugby Team. Now he’s the CEO and founder of Sporting Edge and hosts a superb podcast Inside the Mind of Champions. Now you’ll want to stick around to the end of the show to find out how you can get a special discounted membership to the Sporting Edge members club, Jeremy, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Jeremy Snape: Hi Steve.

Steve Rush: So, you have an amazing sporting career, that for those outside of the UK might not have had an opportunity to see, unless of course, you’re in the Indian Premier League or South African Cricket, but for those that don’t really understand your backstory, perhaps you can give us a little bit of a potted history around, you know, how you got into cricket and how you ended up pivoting into what you do today.

Jeremy Snape: Sure. Well, that’s very kind, to say it’s an amazing career. I think I was the journeymen pro pretty much, but yeah, I suppose growing up sport was always something that we did on holiday and in the back garden, I’ve got an older brother, so grew up pretty competitive trying to keep up with him. He was taller and stronger all the way, and that probably forced me to be more competitive, but got into a cricket, sort of early teams and actually got into the system. And I think once you get into the under eleven, under twelves, under thirteens for your province or your county in the UK, then you get into that conveyor belt, if you like. And, that led me through to captain England under fifteens team, which was a huge surprise to my parents. Because we were planning to go on holiday and completely the other direction to where the tournament was heading the next day.

So, we have to cancel our holiday. And I took on the role as England captain, which is a great thrill. At sixteen, I started as a professional cricketer and went through the ranks with North Hants with some stellar names that were incredibly talented individually, but never really won anything as a group. I moved then to Gloucestershire with the journeymen team, but actually we won and dominated English cricket in the one-day format for about three or four years. That was incredible, and that springboard it’d be really in the England team because coming from that successful county set up, it gave me a chance to play eleven times for England. Test myself against the very best in the world. Sometimes it worked, many times it didn’t, but I learned a huge amount about, you know, performing under pressure. And then I went on to Leicestershire, finally I was doing my Master’s Degree in Sports Psychology at Loughborough, which is nearby. Captain Leicester, we won a few trophies there in this new innovative tournament, the 20/20 version, which was much shorter and forced us to rethink our strategy.

So, I guess, yeah, innovation, mindset, strategic leadership were all the sort of threads that have woven together into my second career after the Master’s Degree, which was working with elite sports teams and business leaders. So, I now spend my time interviewing elite performers or coaching elite performance on mindset and team culture and leadership, or actually you know, working with corporate leaders around the world as well, because for me, you know, getting the best out of ourselves and getting the best out of our talent, you know, is exactly the same in sport and business.

Steve Rush: So, for those listeners who are in North America, who perhaps don’t really understand the game of cricket or don’t get an opportunity to see and experience it, like we do, it’s really quite a strategic game. And there’s lots of parallels. isn’t there? between the teaming in a cricket team, as you would expect to see in a boardroom or a business team, perhaps just give us your perspective on that?

Jeremy Snape: Well, we’d need hours I think to explain the rules of cricket our North American colleagues. I’m not even going to go there with that one, but imagine it’s like baseball but more fun. So, I think, you know, just like baseball, it’s incredibly statistical, you know, the transparency around individual’s performance is really that, you know, and also the collective, you know, teamwork, it’s a great game, you know, full of psychological pressure, full of strategy. You know, lots of cat and mouse that goes on within the game. And, you know, certainly, you know, it was a thrill to me to be able to play for nineteen years and again, you know, play against, with some of the best players in the world and, you know, moving into my second career in psychology and leadership development, you know, getting a chance to, you know, study the mechanics and the theory. But actually, I did that on the back of seeing these brilliant leaders and captains and coaches delivering it in person. So yeah, a real privilege for me to play at that level for so long

Steve Rush: Now, having worked with champions and indeed coaching champions, your podcast by the way is just amazing. It’s one of the very few that I get an opportunity to listen to and absorb myself into. So, Inside the Mind of Champions Podcast, let’s talk about the notion, first of all, of what really is a champion, how would you define that?

Jeremy Snape: Well, it’s a great question. And I think a lot of these definitions are being reflected on at the moment. I don’t know whether it’s the sort of the great pause that we’ve just been through with the pandemic and everyone’s reflecting on what success really looks like in our lives or whether it’s the Olympics that we’re seeing recently. I think obviously a champion by definition is somebody who overcomes the odds and beats their rivals to get to the pinnacle. So, you imagine a, you know, somebody with ripped muscles, standing on a mountain top, you know, holding a loft, some kind of trophy or metal, but I think that’s a metaphor really for me, you know, I think everyone has the opportunity to be a champion every day. I think the way I sometimes look at this is, we get two versions of ourselves, one wakes up a little bit sluggish, pulls the duvet over, you know, switches the alarm on to snooze, the duvet beats them.

They have an extra 40 minutes in bed. You know, they have a sort of not particularly healthy breakfast or they skip breakfast, they don’t have a very productive morning. They get a bit grumpy; they don’t have any water, they fall out with a few colleagues, don’t do that to do list, get annoyed, get frustrated, no exercise, you know, eat unhealthily, have too many drinks and then their sleeps compromised the next day. And that’s contrasted with the sort of champion version of ourselves, which is, you know, getting up early and doing something that feels good to us, whether that’s meditation or mindfulness or yoga or running, or a dog walk or whatever that might be just to get our heads straight for the day, really zero in on those priorities of what’s going to be a gold medal day for us. And that can be two or three key things.

And again, this isn’t, you know, for somebody who’s been struggling with depression or with anxiety or whatever, you know, even just getting out of the front door and going to the shop could be part of that gold medal plan for the day. So, I think for me being a champion is doing the difficult things, you know, on hard days when you’re not naturally motivated to do it. And of course, what we see with the Olympians or with the elite performers in sports and in business is they aggregate those days, almost like they’re linking, you know, links in a chain together. And that chain of good days connecting together actually has transformational impact. Whether it’s about our mindset, our savings, our business strategy, or our, you know, health and wellbeing. If we have two hundred good days in a row or twenty good days in a row, then we’re in much better shape than if the chain had been broken, you know, every second day. So, I think that the champions idea is a metaphor. And I think what I’m trying to do with the podcast is translate the lessons from the elite performers that I’ve worked with and met, and actually translate them into everyday strategies that we can all use in our teams and business, so, yeah,

Steve Rush: And I love the reframe you have on it. From the last time we met, I remember you reframe it, almost personal mastery, whereas it doesn’t matter where you start from, having a champion outcome day by day is what’s most important. And that does definitely start with that mindset, doesn’t it?

Jeremy Snape: Yeah, and I think we’re so, you know, we have to make everything competitive and we celebrate these icons, what they look like and how much money they’ve got and what house they live in. And, you know, this world of comparison and individual icons is the world we live in. That’s the story our media gives us. But, you know, I think as you say, we’ve all got our own personal quest that we’ve got to define. And I almost think we’ve got to turn the volume down on the outside on what everyone else is doing, you know, normally that’s a eighty percent and the volumes twenty percent on ourselves, it feels selfish to be thinking about our own goals and what we want to do, but actually it takes real discipline to turn down the noise and you know, just focus on what’s going to make us happy and successful.

And actually, it’s irrelevant what anyone else is doing because they’ve got different resources, you know, different networks, different timing, you know, and that can just be demoralized. And of course, use it occasionally to give you a, you know, a kick up the bum and a bit of motivation if you want to chase somebody down, of course, but we shouldn’t be living our life in other people’s shadows. I think part of being a champion is, you know, carving your own path and you know, chasing it down every day, inch by inch, day by day. And actually, it’s the striving where the great thrill and fulfillment comes from, not the achieving, you know, many people who’ve won the lotto or the lottery, you know, they’re not any happier than they were, but people who sort of building a business and you know, building a network and building content and those kinds of things, or learning new skills, that’s where we tend to see people in their element. So, we shouldn’t be too quick to get to the destination and we should enjoy that process of chasing mastery and excellence in our everyday life.

Steve Rush: Yeah, I agree. And one of the things that’s really interesting is, there’s lots of science behind this as well, isn’t there? it’s not just, you know, observed behavior. There are some scientific evidences to suggest that if we don’t put ourselves first, then the people around us don’t become better and healthier and fitter physically and mentally as well. What’s your spin on that kind of whole self-discipline before others?

Jeremy Snape: Well, you know, we hear on the airplanes when we used to travel, make sure when the oxygen masks drop down, put your own on first, before you sort of look after your kids or the people around you. And I think, you know, that’s more than a survival mechanism. That’s a thriving mechanism really, because, you know, I’ve been a brilliant selfless team player, and I’ve also been a destructive, selfish force in a team. And I think when I’m investing in myself, when I’m healthy, when I’m doing lots of exercise, when I’ve got my goals clear, then I’m a pretty good person, because I feel like I’m balanced. If I’m not being disciplined with myself, then I can take that out on other people. It’s just my frustration. It’s not that they’ve done anything wrong.

So, I think the first step always has to be for us to take accountability. I like to think of it, like I’m the CEO of my own performance company, and I’ve got a share price that goes up and down through the day and through the week and the better choices that I make around my exercise, my prioritization, my communication, you know, my health eating or whatever it might be. Those things affect my share price. Now it’s not always going from bottom left to top right. Of course, I’m human like anyone else. But I think when we take control and accountability for the choices that we make, a we start to build some momentum around them, then that can have transformational effects on our energy and our focus and that then cascades into other people, our relationships, our teams and our leadership. And I think that’s why starting with yourself and your own mindset is actually not a selfish thing to do. It’s a great thing today, if you’re trying to develop a high-performance environment for everyone else.

Steve Rush: So how much of that high-performance mindset is learned versus inherited through our DNA?

Jeremy Snape: Well, that’s a very good question. I think some of it’s probably inherited and, you know, nature without a doubt. But you know, there’s that whole field of epigenetics as well, isn’t there? Where whatever you’ve got in your DNA and your genes gets activated by the environment that you find yourself in. And, you know, to me, again, part of this champion mindset and this growth mindset for me is that you take accountability. You don’t make excuses, you drive, you know yourself to get into these positions. So, I’d love to think that we can learn these new skills. If we look at, you know, the work of Carol Dweck with the growth mindset, it’s been very, very popular around the world. And then if you look at the neuroscience behind the back of that, around neuroplasticity, that people’s brains actually changed shape and form, the dendrites and these connections between different pathways in the brain actually strengthened when people learn a new skill and got to have the discipline to start learning a foreign language or learning the piano or whatever.

So, our brains are adaptable. And when our brains adapt, obviously that gives us that foundation to be able to build those skills and build those instincts on the top of it. So, I’d like to think that we are twenty percent set, and eighty percent is in our control. That’s just the way I look at things. I’m sure it’s probably not quite like that, but I think it’s incredibly liberating, no matter how many challenges or whatever difficult situation you’ve been in to see that you can sort of champion your way out. You can find a way to win from any position. And I think that’s incredibly liberating.

Steve Rush: It isn’t? Yeah. And also, if you consider that the notion that everybody has the opportunity to grow and develop, then everybody has the opportunity to become their own champion in their own world, right?

Jeremy Snape: Yeah, and I think that’s really important and I think there’s so much satisfaction and pride that comes from growth. I think, you know, we’re actually built for safety. We’re built to park in the same place that we’ve always parked. We drive the same way to work. We try and eat the same foods each week. So, so we’re built for habits and to dumb down everything into its simplest form for the brain, so that we free up as much of our energy for that threat that might come around the hill, you know, in the form of a saber tooth tiger or a, you know, nasty email from the boss or whatever it might be. So, we tend to prioritize short term survival and safety and routine. Whereas our most fulfilling moments usually come from stretching ourselves, achieving something we never thought was possible and doing it with people that are different to us.

You know, so it’s a really strange situation that our proudest moments are achieved in diverse teams, doing things we never thought we could achieve, and we’ve been stretched. Yet our personal instinct is to stay safe, stay on our own and do what we always used to do. So that’s where the role of leadership and coaching comes in, to help people to sort of make that step change into that new future and help them to stretch and have the confidence to make that change. And I think it’s, you know, I’ve seen lots of people that are, you know, you would think have everything, but are actually quite unhappy. And it’s because they’ve stalled in their progress. They’ve achieved everything they thought they could. And actually, if you can keep continuing and keep growing and keep pushing yourselves, then I think it’s, you know, that’s where the pride and the satisfaction comes from.

Steve Rush: Perfect example actually of a fixed mindset, isn’t it? So, people have this perception that people with fixed mindsets, don’t excel, don’t get on in their lives and work, but actually they do, but hit a plateau at some point where they’ve self-actualized what they think they can achieve. And that’s when you notice a fixed mindset play out for those kinds of people, right?

Jeremy Snape: Yeah, and it’s a little bit like, I suppose, you know, I work with smaller businesses and massive corporations and lots of the big corporations that I’m working with at the moment are really struggling to transform their business model because of, you know, digitization or, you know, the COVID epidemic or whatever it might be that the consumer has completely changed their behavior of the last few years, but small businesses have lots of flexibility. And as the business matures and scales, we need more systems and processes, which actually become more like the scaffolding. And then they become more like the concrete. So, before you know it, you’ve built, you know, a ten-story building that can’t shift anywhere. Whereas, you know, previously that the sort of young, small supple businesses, more like a, I don’t know, bamboo tree, you know, that can flex a little bit in the environment.

So, I think we’re the same when we’re young and, you know, entering a new sport or scale or whatever it might be. We’re open-minded, and we’ll explore different avenues and possibilities. But then as we prove ourselves, actually we become more about preserving that pride and that achievement, rather than almost breaking down the building and starting again, which I think feels like a massive risk when you’re a high achiever. And that’s why some people that have achieved incredible success in business and sport actually find it the hardest to adapt and to make that transition away from their first career or for something that they’ve been renowned for, because it’s so entrenched and sort of interwoven into their identity that they sort of can’t see themselves being anything else or doing anything else. And that can be a stressful place to be.

Steve Rush: I guess some of that is also about unlearning what you’ve learned to be able to relearn thinking new ways.

Jeremy Snape: It’s just about courage I think, you know, curiosity, you know, what else is out there? What else would I like to do? What else could I be? You know, where else could I take this? That’s a really exciting set of questions and mindset to have, and then just having the courage to sort of fail forwards into that and say, well, I’m not going to be a concert pianist, you know, after ten days. So let me just make a few bum notes and, you know, it’ll sound a bit squeaky to start with, but, you know, I’m enjoying learning, you know, again, we’re trying to compare ourselves to other people who can play the piano brilliantly and have everyone round for a dinner party and play Tchaikovsky or whatever.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Jeremy Snape: But actually, you know, enjoy the learning and enjoy the process, enjoy the development because, you know, I’ve met lots of people that have achieved their dream and they’re now happier than when they were striving.

Steve Rush: Yeah, it was the old attitude that the journey is more alluring than the destination sometimes.

Jeremy Snape: Absolutely.

Steve Rush: Yeah, so what would you say would be the common parallels that you’ve observed in your sporting career as well as now, coaching business leaders that present themselves in both situations? So, sporting champions and business champions, what would be those kinds of common things that are present in both?

Jeremy Snape: Well, I think, they have to have a goal. I think there’s an ambition statements and the champions in sport can do something very special. They can almost visualize what that’s going to feel and look like. It’s almost like they can see themselves lifting the World Cup or lifting, you know, having the medal around their neck and seeing their family and friends talk about them. They can almost read the articles of how the characters shone through. So, they’ve got that ability to, you know, jump forward in the timeline and really immerse themselves in what that change will bring to them. It’ll be a change in the way people perceive them and the way they perceive themselves when they’ve achieved that goal. I don’t think business does that so well, I think business just sets a financial target. So, I think there’s the ambition. Then I think there’s the focus to say, well, we are going to do this, but we’re not going to do that. And I think the second one of those of what you’re not going to do is important because we can say yes to everything and that just slows us down. I think there’s that courage element and confidence to be able to take risks and be bold in those situations. And then I think there’s the resilience to handle the setbacks and just keep going, you know, so few days have your name in sort of head lights and spotlights. It’s all about what you do in the shadows. I think that’s what I’ve seen, you know, that daily grind and that process, and just stick into those almost like the gold medal behaviors that you’re doing in the gym for four years are the thing that present the gold medal opportunity for you, you know, in the Olympics. And I think that the leaders in business that are disciplined enough to stay on that track and keep doing the reps, that’s, you know, transformational over time.

And then of course you bring in the coaching and leadership elements of where you need to inspire the people to be the best they can be and be aligned to what you’re trying to achieve. I think it’s easy to micromanage when your name’s on the top of the, you know, the business, or, you know, you’re solely responsible for the sales figure at the end of the year. It’s easy to micromanage everything, to take control, but actually if you can coach people and unlock there potential and get them to strive and improve and get on that sort of growth journey, then you can achieve exponential success. Because now you’ve got, ten, twenty, thirty people that are all flying and, you know, moving the business forward. Whereas it’s very heavy lifting if you’re trying to do all that yourself. So, I think being able to let go a little bit and become more of a coach rather than a dictator is a critical thing that translates and unlocking that diversity in the teams, you know, new starters, people from different businesses, people from different backgrounds, you know, unlock all of those ideas and those silly questions because there might be absolute gold in it. You know, our consumer base is incredibly diverse. So why shouldn’t our teams be diverse in openness to create the best solution,

Steve Rush: Some great parallels there, really good stuff. Thank you for that. So, when was it that you first noticed that mindset and you paying attention to your mindset was going to be something that you needed to spend more time on? Was there a moment perhaps in your international playing time or your county cricket time where you thought my mindset is not helping me here, or my mindset is helping me here?

Jeremy Snape: Well, it’s a good question. And I don’t think, you know, the sort of, I retired in two thousand and eight and obviously things have moved on significantly in the last decade or so. So, I think there was one particular moment when my mindset seemed to be, some days I felt bulletproof confidence, in control. I was going to dominate the game and I did, you know, there were rare occasions, but that was the case. I actually felt like I could win the game for my team. I got man of the match on my England debut and, you know, there was some great performances where I was absolutely, you know, in the moment and absolutely loving in my element. And then there was a moment in India. I think it was two thousand and one, two, where I played a previous tour in Zimbabwe and smaller team and smaller crowds.

And then India, for those that don’t follow cricket is the powerhouse of international cricket. So, there are one and a half billion people, and they either like Bollywood films, or they like cricket, and they probably liked both. And I think half of them were packed into the Eden Gardens Stadium in Kolkata back on this balmy night where England were desperate to win this game of cricket. There were hundred and twenty thousand people in the stadium, which is just massive. I mean, I played at Lord’s and other big stadiums around the world, and there were usually about twenty-five, twenty-eight thousand people. And that was all, you know, got the nerves jangling, but you’re sort of used to that, but a hundred and twenty thousand people, it was incredible. I made a bit of a mistake. I sort of run out one of my team mates, which wasn’t great, Freddie Flintoff.

To be fair, He was the only person he could have won this game for England. So, it was down to me. So, I was left in the middle of this massive stadium, like a cauldron of noise. And there was just this, you know, despite there being a hundred and twenty thousand people screaming, the loudest voice was the one that was in my head that was saying, what have you done? You know, you’re not good enough to be here. What do you think you’re doing? You know, it’s all on you now, what are the press going to say tomorrow after that? You know, and basically, I was so focused on, you know, nerves and failure and what the consequences of my actions were going to be. The critique of the media the next day, but I forgot to watch the next ball and I missed it and got out myself.

And I was walking back to the pavilion, just thinking that was just like the craziest minute of my life, because I felt like I’d been emotionally hijacked and sort of carried into this false hostage situation where I couldn’t move my arms and legs. And couldn’t think straight, my heart was racing. My eyes were flickering around the place, and I wasn’t even thinking straight. So, I think we all write these plans on a flip chart or in our diary, but unless we can deliver them under pressure, we’re never going to be able to progress. And that moment for me was, you know, a bit of an epiphany really, because I realized that if my mindset’s not right, then I’m not going to be able to deliver what I want to do. So that’s when I started my Master’s Degree and actually came to the back end of my career and used some of those strategies in some games. I’ve learned about focus, I’ve learned about taking my mind off the outcomes and, you know, the score board and that kind of stuff. And actually, focusing on controlling my mind, controlling my breathing, controlling my posture, because if I can control those things, then I can actually control the way I respond to the way the bowl pitches or throws the balls. I’ve been using some of these techniques and training as I’ve done my Master’s Degree, and I was in this massive final. So again, I was, you know, in a high-pressure situation, a few balls, we needed four runs to win, you know, one of the best one-day bowlers in the world, Azhar Mahmood running into bowl, you know, my brain could easily have taken me away to that place of, here we go again, you’re going to fail. But actually, I started to refocus back on my breathing and my posture and my game plan and where my strongest shots were coming from.

And in that moment, when I was thinking about my breath, believe it or not, I played one of the best instinctive shots I’ve ever played, hit the ball for a four, time it perfectly. And the players run on the pitch and carried me off. And we got sprayed in champagne. And it’s one of those moments where you think I just played one of my best shots ever. And I wasn’t thinking about cricket, because I think your muscle memory, you know what to do, what you’ve got, what you’ve actually got to do is get out of your own way, get out of your own head sometimes and let that instinct and let your flare come through. So, again, that sort of transformation moment for me that I know the power of our mindset, because it’s so intangible, we don’t know how to invest in it.

Everyone says mental health is critical. So, I’ve made a real concerted effort through Sporting Edge to try and create a framework for mental health. Because when we say mental health, we often talk about mental ill health, which is sort of depression, massive anxiety attacks, and suicide potentially, but mental health should be like our normal health. It should be eating healthily, exercising, you know, socializing, those things affect our normal mental health, but then we’ve got confidence. Then we’ve got, you know, our focus, we’ve got our ability to think clearly under pressure. We’ve got, you know, all of those different elements, our ability to reframe setbacks, these are life skills that help us to keep a healthy mindset so that we never have to worry about mental ill health. We’ve built a sort of a six-factor model at Sporting Edge around the winning mindset. And we’ve got a thirty-day course that’s helped thousands of people to develop the skills because I think they’re fundamental. And if we can get our mindset right, we can achieve everything, you know, whatever we want to, that’s not to say we’re all going to be you know, billionaires or NBA stars. But I think if we all set goals and feel like we’re making progress towards, that’s liberating in itself.

Steve Rush: They’re great lessons to look back on. And I remember specifically, you shared the whole principle of emotional hijack at that moment in India. Well, actually that’s neuroscience playing out. Because technically that’s exactly what was happening. You were cognitively impaired because your focus was elsewhere, right?

Jeremy Snape: Of course, the amygdala was trying to play the shot for me.

Steve Rush: Yeah. yeah.

Jeremy Snape: You know, the amygdala takes you higher cognitive function and executive function offline. And, you know, interestingly through our research at Sporting, I have interviewed neuroscientists talking through that process, but no one had ever told me that could happen. They would just say things like, oh, he choked under pressure, or we lost this head under pressure, well, that’s not particularly helpful. Because I don’t know what that means. And I certainly don’t know how to retrain myself. And I get it a little bit now speaking at conferences around the world, you know, there might be a thousand people in an audience and I still get those butterflies and these sweaty palms and my brain starts to spin a bit, but I’ve now got strategies to understand that, that’s just my body preparing for performance. So now I go through a little routine that helps me to stay calm and focus so that my, you know, first line comes out okay. And from then on, it’s fine. Whereas I think, you know, we’ve all got a brain and we should understand how to use it. And I’m amazed this isn’t part of our school curriculum to be honest.

Steve Rush: I had many conversations with academics and people in education with exactly the same principle, the sooner in life, we can allow people to know that these things naturally happen for us. And there are ways to control them from a very young age, the more advanced, I think people will be in their own mental health. And you rightly called this out around when people perceive this to be mental ill health, I call it mental wealth because actually the more you invest in your thinking, your strategies and understanding about how you react to certain situations, the less likely that you’re going to get adverse reactions.

Jeremy Snape: Absolutely, and I think one of the transformational huffs of comments is that, you know, that voice that we all are have in our head, that’s the voice of our parent, a teacher, an early coach, the media, a critic, it’s somebody who got in there early and we’ve never argued with it. We think that’s the truth just because it’s the same voice that we carried around for fifty years. You know, it’s almost like being in a courtroom where you’ve got the prosecution and the judge, but no defense. So, it basically says you’re not good enough and I can prove it. And there’s no defense to say, well, hang on a minute. I’ve done this before. And I have played well here and I do care about people and I have practiced. And you know, I’ve got a track record here, you know, because that would be quite an interesting debate, but we tend to just take that negative voice, which bear in mind is trying to keep us safe. It’s trying to keep us away from anything that’s threatening our ego, like playing in front of a hundred and twenty thousand live on television or standing up at a conference and making a speech, that threatens our ego and our pride and our self-esteem. So, it wants us to stay sitting down. That’s why it tries to hijackers, but if you sort of speak gently to it and say, well, yeah, thanks very much for the warning signs, heart rates and sweaty palms and vision getting a bit blurred. But I’m just going to take a couple of deep breaths here and, you know, focus on my first line because I want to do this because I know I’m going to feel better for it. And I’ve got lots of people that I need to help here. So, thanks for the warning, but I’m carrying on anyway. I think that’s an important lesson for us.

Steve Rush: Yeah, it is. Yeah, It’s great. So, you’ve had the opportunity to interview some real global superstars and really get inside their champion mindsets from the people that you’ve interviewed met and work with. Who’d be maybe the kind of top two or three that have been real outstanding and memorable experiences for you?

Jeremy Snape: Well, I think there’s lots of different people. And if I had to build a perfect composite, that’s probably what I’ll attempt to do. Some of the coaches, Eddie Jones from England rugby, incredibly restless. He almost this T shape of the leader where he can skim across the, you know, the forwards, the backs, the nutritionists, the strength and conditioning, the people that are organizing their schedule and he can drop down at any point into the weeds, into the detail and forensically examine. It’s almost like he’s got this whole system mapped out and he’s on it. So, here’s sort of ruthless around discipline and standards across the whole matrix of a high-performance environment, I find incredible. So, Dave Brailsford from team sky, team cycling, I think his ability to translate, you know, things down into simple solutions and processes when they’re incredibly complex was fascinating.

And then there are people like, I met two of the guys actually that were in prison with Nelson Mandela for twenty-six years, Ahmed Kathrada and Denis Goldberg. And they feature in one of my podcast episodes, which is really about, it’s called Lessons from Isolation. And you know, two of them, they didn’t need to go to prison. And this is the thing I find remarkable, but they knew that if they went to prison alongside Nelson Mandela, they had more chance of him staying alive and being protected for as long as he was there. So, they gave up their lives to stay alongside their team mates. You know, they had all sorts of things done to them on Robben Island, in prison for 20 odd years, all their privileges were taken away. And they stayed resilient because they had a deep burning purpose that they wanted to overthrow the Apartheid regime. So again, you know, people with a purpose, people that want to make a difference can do incredible things. Those guys, I think there was eight of them in this particular group. Never break ranks, never snitched on each other, never broke the chain in this team. And they stood together strong for twenty-six years and walked out of prison together. And when they came out, because of their solidarity and their personal resilience, they changed South Africa, and over throw the Apartheid regime and they changed the history of the world and, you know, that was from isolation and I’m sure they all had negative thoughts and incredibly low moments, but they stayed together and did incredible things. So yes, some of the insights and lessons have come from sport, but equally they’ve come from some of these other, you know, academics or incredible, you know, characters that I’ve met along the way as well.

Steve Rush: It’s an amazing story of resilience and mindset playing out in real time for us to all observe as well, great lessons. So, I’m not going to flip a little and tap into your leadership thinking and your leadership mind and ask you to think about all of your experiences and studies and try and distill in if you could, into your top three leadership hacks. So, if you could call out the kind of two or three things that really drive and guide you, what would they be?

Jeremy Snape: That’s a good question. I think one of the first principles would be, everyone’s so focused on the outcome. Everyone wants the gold medal. Everyone wants the billion-dollar turnover, you know, and most of the clients I work with, that’s how they set their goals, but we have to use those almost like a north star to look up at them and think, yep, that’s where I want to get to. But then we need to say, right, if I want to win, w-i-n, if I want those billion dollars or that gold medal, I need to look down now and say, what’s important now? Or what’s important next? that’s what winning looks like on the day. So being able to translate our long-term goals into short term controllable behaviors and habits that we can build discipline around is transformational. And none of the media are interested in the swimmer getting up at six o’clock, five o’clock every morning and swimming five miles because it’s not sexy.

They want the outcomes and the times and the gold medals, but actually that’s where they won in the shadows of the process. So, process against the outcome and also not comparing yourself to other people’s outcomes. I think that can be, you know, debilitating. I think probably the second thing is about lead the ship and that’s definitely to create a high-performance group around you, a talented group of individuals and empower them. You know, don’t stifle them, don’t direct them too much. Give them that intent to say, we need to solve this problem over here. Here’s the commercial lens. Here’s the ethical lens. Here’s the method, you know, that’s been tried before and discuss it a bit, but then set them free and let them go and do it for themselves because when people feel like they can own the sort of tactics and the strategy, then that can be incredible. So, I’ve seen that, you know, make a massive difference, empowerment.

And then probably the third thing is about, you know, our hunger to keep learning and that can be following people on social media, listening to podcasts, and it can also be surrounding yourself with a, you know, almost like a virtual board. Maybe there are five or six people in different industries that you can get hold of that you can just catch up with once a quarter for half an hour, just to pick their brains and maybe can meet them once a year or whatever it might be, but have these industry leaders, all these thought leaders, all these culturally leaders, you know, at arm’s length. So, you can dive into them and pick their brains because if we’re continually stretching ourselves and we’ve got the confidence that our ideas are on the right track from these mentors, then we can really commit to our skills and, you know, do special thing,

Steve Rush: Thanks for sharing those Jeremy, there amazing hacks. Thank you. Next part of the show, we call it Hack to Attack. So quite simply, this is where something hasn’t worked out well. It may have been quite a catastrophic event, or it might not have worked out in the way that you wanted it to, but as a result of the event, you’ve learned from it. And it’s now a force of good in your life and work. What would be your Hack to Attack?

Jeremy Snape: Well, big failures, there’s been many. I think one formative one for me actually was failing, an eleven plus exam to go to the same school that my brother was at. So, I was eight, eleven, three papers, messed one of them up and didn’t get into this school. And actually, it scared me a little bit, I felt like a real failure to my family and, and myself, you know, I’d let myself down really with it. And that really gave me the drive then to say, I’m not going to fail again. You know, I’m not going to feel that embarrassment and that shame again. So, I think that spurred my work ethic on for any setback that I’ve had, you know, since then, I tend to look at them in the moment and say, okay, you failed that because you didn’t do this and didn’t do that. That’s on me, next time I can make it better. So, I don’t see myself as a failure. I see myself as somebody who’s failed in these moments with specific skills. And I can transcend that if I keep working hard and, you know, testing my ideas with other people. So that would probably be, sort of overcome setbacks with a bit less emotion and to sort of skip through them as learning experiences.

Steve Rush: Brilliant reframe of mindset as well, because as you use the word failure, what you actually described was learning.

Jeremy Snape: Yeah.

Steve Rush: Yeah, great. The next part of the show is to give you a bit of an opportunity to do some time travel. So, you get to bump into Jeremy at twenty-one and give him some advice and some words of wisdom. What do you think it might have been?

Jeremy Snape: Twenty-one, well, I was playing professional cricket then, I’d just finished my first degree. I was sort of bursting into the first team, I suppose, of my first professional county and I probably got some doubts. So, at twenty-one, I’d probably say I was traveling the world, which was great, so that was fun. But I’d say you’re good enough. I probably, you know, whisk myself away from the crowd. I’d probably be having a few beers with teammates after the game or whatever, and I’d just pull myself to the side and say, you’re good enough at this. You’re going to be good enough. You’ll find a way to be successful, but you got to be courageous. You’ve got to take some risks. When somebody coaches you and gives you these different strategies, it might feel like you’re going backwards for the first few days, but stick with it and try it because you’re in the experimental phase. And if you have courage, you could be, you know, twice the play you are. So that’s probably the advice I’d give myself.

Steve Rush: Powerful advice as well. As we’ve kind of get into the end of our show together today. It’s not going to be the end of our listeners, hooking in with the work that you do. And we want to make sure that we can connect our listeners to you and vice versa. So, where’s the best place for us to send them?

Jeremy Snape: Well, my Twitter is at @sportingedge. LinkedIn is where I post most of my, you know, thoughts. So that’s Jeremy Snape on LinkedIn, but also So, the podcast Inside the Mind of Champions features all the interviews that I’ve done and breaks it down into a toolkit. And then we’ve also got access to our video library. So about thousand, two-minute videos across eighty different business themes and leadership themes. So, we’ve got a community called our members club and that gives people access to our events and our digital content. So, they can kick off a zoom meeting or just a, you know, keep your own learning going and trying to accelerate your own quest to mastery. So, over a hundred experts have been interviewed there and every one of the videos has got little practical toolkit for you to use in your career. So, yeah,, and LinkedIn are the best places, but it’d be great to connect with your network as well Steve.

Steve Rush: and also, our listeners get an opportunity to get a discount. So, you’ve got a special discount code that they can use to get some access to

Jeremy Snape: Absolutely, yes. The membership is normally, twenty-five pounds per month, but, if you use the code podcast fifty in the checkout, then you get that half price for that first month to have a good look around. So, it will be great to introduce some of your network.

Steve Rush: We will make sure they’re in our show notes as well. Jeremy, I just want to say thank you. I know you’re incredibly busy guy and I do love listening to your podcast and it’s just a great honor and a privilege to have you on our show. So, thanks for being part of our Leadership Hacker Community

Jeremy Snape: Thanks so much for the invitation and good luck to everyone listening.

Jeremy Snape: Thank you.


Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler there @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

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