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After seven hamstring operations, Olympic athlete Derek Redmond moved into business

At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Derek Redmond was deemed set to win the 400m. That was, until injury found him and led him down the corporate trail.
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Derek Redmond made his debut into the world of business by becoming a personal trainer. He even transformed his garage into a gym before experiencing life as a founder.

Alongside his strength and fitness coach, Redmond made a sports equipment manufacturing company which initially garnered great success – “but the support you get for such companies today wasn’t as readily available.” It’s why, among other reasons, he instead chose to become director of development for Sprints and Hurdles at UK athletics – and found a passion for motivational speaking.

Hoping to help people set goals and build towards them, Derek Redmond parted some advice for business leaders

“One of my sayings is that sport is a business and business is a sport – it’s a notion that inspires all my advice because there’s little difference between the two. For example, if there’s anything I learned from athletics it’s that you should never give up. The same applies to business. I may not have won that race, but instead of using my hamstring as an excuse I ended up succeeding in a different sport.

“Likewise, you should always have confidence in yourself, your company and your product. I knew during that semi-final I was quick enough to break the world record. Obviously I didn’t in the end, but to this day I still believe I had a winning run in my legs. Having that vision, having that belief that you can achieve whatever you want to is something you should never lose.

“If you have that, to be honest, there’s not much that will stop you. Issues may slow you down, they may take you slightly off course, but they won’t stop you. That’s something I learned from my dad. He always said that if you’re going to do something right, do it properly. I’ve always believed in that. It really is about attitude, about mind set.”

Happy Fathers Day to the greatest man on this planet. #jimredmond

A post shared by Derek And Maria Redmond (@derekandmariaredmond) on

Crucial to his story though, is the ability to adapt. In the case of Derek Redmond, it was to adapt from athletics to basketball and then from sport into business. The world is rapidly changing and if you’re fixed in your ways you’ll miss out on great opportunities – and the competition will pass you by.

“Change can be good. I used to be a 100-200m runner. One day someone who was supposed to run the 400m didn’t show up and the official asked if someone else in the team wanted to try. I had nothing to lose, I did it and won. I started running longer distances because of it. You could even say I found more success after making that transition. But as always, it’s a risk you need to take. If that 400m runner had been there, I would likely have continued down the 200m route.”

Once again, it’s all about your mind set. Redmond is known for his hard work and passion, but it’s also an aspect developed through sports – and something bosses should be keen to obtain. We’re not saying go and play a sport, but there are a few rules you can follow to change your way of thinking.

While his above advice on change, vision, belief and confidence applies, arguably his biggest rule of thumb is not to perceive problems as, well, problems.

“The world will always throw challenges your way,” he explained. “I’ve come to a point in life where I have no problems. All the issues I’ve come across so far, they’re not problems, they’re challenges. You only learn certain things after you fail, and you only get to reap some awards after overcoming great difficulty. Just because you’ve failed or are close to the tipping point, it doesn’t mean the end.”

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Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is a senior reporter at Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

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