Dame Kelly Holmes: Why you need a 'winning mindset' in business

Holmes believes her determination to succeed in sports can be applied to the business world

HR directors must adopt a ‘winning mindset’ for business success, according to double gold medal-winning Olympic athlete Kelly Holmes.

Holmes served in the military for nearly 10 years before leaving to pursue her ambition of becoming an Olympic athlete. In 2004 Holmes won two gold medals at the Olympics in Athens and was the only British woman in history to win the 800 metres and 1,500 metres double. For her achievements she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2005.

She believes her determination to succeed in sports can be applied to business. “For me, a winning mindset is putting yourself in a position where you have something that is quite hard to achieve yet still finding a way to achieve it,” Holmes told HR magazine. “When you have a goal there are going to be some setbacks, and always something that doesn’t go quite to plan, as much as we hope that our paths will be smooth.”

She explained that resilience is the key to achieving lofty objectives. “You need to have a real resilience, and the ability to handle pressure,” she said. “I could have given up many times because of injuries, but through having that goal and that really strong determination and the willpower to keep going I was eventually able to achieve my ambitions.”

Holmes was also keen to highlight the importance of having a strong support system. “Being part of a team is so important in the workplace,” she said. “People say there’s no ‘I’ in team but that’s wrong. You should recognise everyone in your team as an individual. You don’t need to take everything on board yourself, or not share your problems.

“If you look at it from an athlete’s mindset, they would have no problem asking for help from their coach, their training partner or their physiotherapist. People should realise that the team around them, whoever that might be, can help you get to where you want to be.”

Holmes recently discussed the winning mindset live at the ADP Lunch and Learn event, with the aim of helping the HR industry thrive in today’s modern working world.