The other night, I had a chat at the Eagle Point Golf Club with Russell Coutts, the man who has won more America's Cup Yacht Race victories than any other captain in the long history of the sport. I had first met him several years ago, and heard him speak about the challenge of bringing together great team members from various parts of the world and then winning against the top competition from around the globe. On that occasion, I first showed him my little laminated wallet card on The 7 Cs of Success, and he read through the conditions carefully, and then looked up at me and said, "This is what my guys do to come together and win."
As a reference, here they are. For true success in any difficult challenge, we need:
C1: A clear CONCEPTION of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined.
C2: A strong CONFIDENCE that we can attain the goal.
C3: A focused CONCENTRATION on what it will take to reach the goal.
C4: A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing our vision, a determined persistence.
C5: An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what we're doing.
C6: A good CHARACTER to guide us and keep us on a proper course.
C7: A CAPACITY TO ENJOY THE PROCESS along the way.
It's amazing that philosophers thousands of years ago could grasp what it takes to win an America's Cup, or a National Championship, or a World Series, or an Olympic Gold Medal. I've had top athletes across sports tell me how surprised they are to see in The 7 Cs formula the ideas they've followed intuitively in order to attain the success they've had.
In speaking with Russell Coutts the other night, two related things came up. First: Our implementation of The 7 Cs has to be relentless in the face of difficulty and failure. In the latest America's Cup, the Nespresso team was ahead of Team Oracle USA by a whopping 7-1 score, with only one more point needed to beat Russell's guys. But his boss, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, had summed up what he had learned in the tech business by telling Russell, "NEVER GIVE UP."
Russell said that when they were down 7-1, his guys never lost their confidence, but that the captain of the adversary boat, the Nespresso team, started worrying that something would happen. Then, it did. It's like the famous tightrope walker, Karl Wallenda, whose wife reported that earlier on the day he fell and died, she heard him say, for the first time ever, "I hope I don't fall today." And, he did. Confidence can be that important. And so can what we focus on.
Russell also talked about nerves before a race. The best people get nervous energy from the fact that they care, that they're committed. Confidence doesn't require a blindness to the challenges you'll face. In fact, to the contrary, a realistic estimation of the difficulty in any given task allows for powerful confidence, and a focused concentration on what it will take to overcome and prevail. Oracle USA did overcome and prevail, in what The Wall Street Journal called possibly the greatest comeback in the history of sports.
Like Russell's teams, I like to sail The 7 Cs. I hope you do, too.