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EP: 59 – The Long Win with Cath Bishop

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Cath Bishop Game Of Teams Podcast

Introduction: Cath Bishop is a three time Olympian, World Champion and Olympic Silver medallist in rowing. In her career as Diplomat, she specialised in stabilisation policy for conflict affected areas of the world. In business Cath acts as a Business Coach & Consultant, advising on Teams and Leadership Development. She also teaches on the Executive Education Programs for Judge Business School at Cambridge University. 

Show Notes

Podcast episode Summary: The book, The Long Win is a deep and rewarding exploration of human motivation, in sport, politics, business & our personal lives. This episode explores Cath Bishops alternative approach to a zero sum approach to winning. Her approach is housed in an alliterative 3 C’s, developing Clarity, Constant learning and Connection. Cath’s passion for a different approach to success and in solving our  worlds complex issues is palpable across this conversation. 

Points made throughout the Episode: 

  • The book served as vehicle to make sense of Cath’s experiences, failures and wins.  Cath looked at the common themes that could get at sustainable performance
  • She observed our collective obsession with defining winning on narrow terms 
  • Her aim for this book is to challenge our definition of success, challenge the simple metrics on which we so depend & to begin to define broader success criteria that matter. 
  • A meaningful purpose is one that offers a contribution outside of ourselves, is meaningful, it allows us have agency and connect more widely to be part of something together. 
  • Having broader aims allows us to be resilient, to be creative in the face of setbacks and to be involved not just from a head space but from a heart space too. 
  • She invariably challenges metrics to wonder what might not be housed in a metric that also matters. 
  • In her experience as an Olympian athlete especially for her first two experiences Cath noticed a very dominant theme. Toughness. It took failing on a big scale for Cath to ask some tough questions of herself. She took a year out. 
  • Cath’s third experience in Athens was different.  Cath appreciated the change in sport psychology.  It wasn’t necessarily about “fixing athletes” that led to performance gains but to an appreciation of the Culture and environment in which athletes trained. Removing fear and separating out performance from results. To an understanding that more things about an athlete, like mindset, behaviours, relations with others contributed to the performance. 
  • These learnings underpinned what became for Cath her 3 C’s, Clarity, Continuous Learning and Connection. 
  • Cath is often invited into Corporate Settings to explore her wins and help others be winners. She explains that this is not the question. Instead she asks how Leaders can share why their organisation exists, the difference it makes to society and then to go about connecting and making links with every employee. 
  • Start what Success means to the team on a broader level. Cath shares a story of where a team was facing into miserable results but with her help they were able to mine the real learning they had achieved over the year. 
  • She extols a Growth Mindset made famous by Carol Dweck. Cath asks teams to look at what went well, to leverage learning and be prepared to do consistent reviews. This gets people away from having only one metric the outcome. 
  • Cath learnt the capacity of connection as a Diplomat. She notes that it is a little bit mad that it took a Pandemic for organisations to give themselves permission to ask people how they are. Importantly we should take stock about why that was the case. 
  • In her capacity as a Diplomat Cath was keen to make connections before the content of her assignment. Who am I speaking to beyond the title? Knowing a person helps you tap into the their better part. 
  • The Brexit negotiations are really forged out of an archaic system of Zero sum games. Competition and politics where someone has to lose. 
  • Complex collaboration is required to solve some of our more wicked social problems 
  • For teams Cath suggests that each team define what success means to them, to put people first and to value the team ethos in addition to the metrics. She suggests people on teams need to take responsibility for what matters and to challenge entrenched thinking. 
  • Make sure the conversations about Purpose are not outsourced as a Comms initiative but spoken to everywhere. 
  • Cath’s biggest discovery in writing the book was the realisation that a lot of our more systemic issues and inability to collaborate are borne out of our education systems. She admires the work of Alfie Cohen in the US and his thinking on Co-operative learning as well as the approach adopted by the Nordic countries. 
  • We do not have a lot of cognitive diversity much of us have learnt the exact same curriculum. How can we allow for more choice? 
  • Begin by defining success on your own terms and lose the “should” 

Resources 

  1. Bishop.C; The long win; the search for a better way to succeed
  2. Cohen.A; Punished by Rewards
  3. www.cathbishop.com
  4. @thecathbishop

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