Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? by Ben Hunt Davis & Harriet Beveridge
Ben Hunt-Davis spent 10 years chasing the Olympic dream as part of the Team GB rowing team. He now co-directs performance company Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? and maintains his involvement in world class sport through helping organise international rowing events.
Harriet Beveridge is a coach and stand-up comic. Harriet has coached a wide range of leaders in an impressive array of organisations from Jo Malone to HSBC, Linklaters to MTV, the NHS to 3M.
This book is a super mix of story-telling backed up with coaching and ‘lessons’ to take away and implement in your business, school or personal life. Until I read the book I hadn’t heard of Ben Hunt-Davis but his story is really compelling; he, and his rowing team, came 6th in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and didn’t even make it to the final in Atlanta in 1996. They then went on to win gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The book combines the story of how they achieved this with detailed chapters on the techniques they deployed. In simple terms, in the 4 year run in to the Sydney Olympics for every single action and activity Ben and the team considered taking they asked themselves the question “Will It Make The Boat Go Faster”?
The key to the success of the book is the simplicity of the techniques Ben and the team employed to achieve their goals. The book breaks the ideas down and explains in simple, practical terms how you can use them too. Ben and Harriet offer you easy ways to take action, they motivate and inspire. From ‘bounce-backability’ (described in the book as “when fate vomits on your duvet!) to bullshit filters, beliefs and motivation there’s a positive smorgasbord of techniques you can use. For me, the main mantra of “Will It Make The Boat Go Faster” is reminiscent of Dave Brailsford’s “aggregation of marginal gains” which has been used to such positive effect for the Team GB cyclists.
“….we couldn’t have done any worse. It was the worst day of my life, we had lost the repercharge by 0.4 of a second. Four years of work and I had nothing to show for it. Over five minutes thirty seconds and we were 0.4 too slow.”
“Setbacks happen, often there is nothing we can do to stop them and we’ve just got to get back to making sure the boat can go faster as soon we can.”
“Don’t focus on the result, focus on the process that will get you to the result”.