Happy Birthday Mr Fosbury!

March 2017 saw the 70th Birthday of Dick Fosbury - the eponymous high jumper who challenged the standard techniques of his discipline and set a new high at the '68 Summer Olympics - winning gold.

Of course there are lots of comparisons with Dick Fosbury and the recent rise of disruptors in  business and I wanted to quickly go through some insights I have taken from the story - beyond maybe the obvious.


Dick was able to harness the technological leaps in Landing Mat Technology; from the humble sand-pit to the futuristic foam filled as well as adapting an already known technique (although it takes his name, it was known on the circuit). He recognised that this could support a move away from the standard techniques of the time. On the surface this sounds obvious, but at a deeper level, lack of awareness of these technological breakthroughs is the main 'barrier'. Being open and indeed available to receive the information and feedback is one of the first steps to change.


Dick was a talented High Jumper in the old world and he was able to bring these into the new world. He didn't simply start again - he brought all of his existing strengths to bear and channelled them into the newer technique - becoming an early adopter and taking advantage of a period of transition.


Finally and most importantly in my opinion, Dick could have plugged away with the old techniques and still been successful but could he have made the gains to take the ultimate prize in sport? We will never know but somewhere along the line, he made a decision to change direction. A realisation that sticking with the old way may never take him closer to his vision. In my experience, this takes courage - a courage to step back, reflect and pause - and take on the same greater goal but with a renewed purpose and differing focus. Dick Fosbury could have been too busy training in the old way, (maybe even increasing his training schedule to put in the hard yards) making it likely that he could miss the opportunities occurring in the sport as well as hardening the mindset that it is too late to change.

Approaching the same problem (how do I get over the greatest height using only my own propulsion) with a 'beginners mind' allows creative solutions to develop and following up with courage to begin the change, certainly enabled Fosbury to fly!

Of course, I am sure he didn't make the decisions alone but it was his own trail he was blazing so accountability was always his.  Some great parallels with business, teams and organisations in this example. Thank you Mr Fosbury and happy birthday!



Is there some technology or technique that is out there that could transform the way you achieve your goals - how could you find out?

Can you step back, pressing the pause button and honestly assess - what are you ultimately trying to achieve, is it working?

Are you working in this way because that is what you have always done - better the devil you know. If you're making this based on a fear then it may be 'irrational' - can you adopt a 'beginners mind', what are the risks to change, what are you in control of?

Let me know how you get on and keep making progress!

Best Wishes

Anthony- MD

coaching | leadership | change




Anthony Nellis