Learning from failure key, says Carter

One of NZ's top athletes explains how focus, resilience and patience have served him.

Triathlete Hamish Carter now works at the Sir Peter Blake Trust.
Triathlete Hamish Carter now works at the Sir Peter Blake Trust.

How would you describe your childhood?
I was born and raised in Auckland, the last child in a family of five. Being the youngest, I think mine were very relaxed parents by the time I came along and they had enough faith in me to make my own decisions. It was a great upbringing, something I try to emulate with my own children.

What was your first job?
My first job was cleaning at a woodworking school when I was 13. I would clean after school, from 5pm to 8pm, go home to eat, then sleep. Although I had no social life, I was making good money for a 13-year-old and made enough to buy a car, a 1969 VW Beetle, when I turned 15.

Who is a leader that you admire?
Grant Dalton, whom I first met when I was 16 training at the Gillies Ave weightlifting gym. He was there each morning with the F&P Whitbread team and, even back then, Grant had an intensity about him that was inspirational and I'm sure some of it rubbed off on me as a young athlete who dreamed of being the best.

Tell us about a low moment in your leadership journey and how you dealt with it?
The 2000 Sydney Olympics where I started as the favourite and then finished in 26th place. My entire life had been focused on that one race, so when it all came crashing down I felt empty and confused. I dealt with the disappointment by analysing and searching for the answers, while my team never stopped believing in me. In time, this made all the difference and we were able to draw so many lessons out of Sydney. Those learnings became my greatest asset and were critical in my future success.

What is a big goal that you have currently?
My goal is to take what I achieved as an athlete and use it in business. Since I retired from racing I have been lucky enough to work in a software company, FMCG, and now the Sir Peter Blake Trust, as GM of corporate partnerships. My long-term goal is to make an enduring contribution to New Zealand.

What do you think New Zealand businesses could be doing better?
Seeing competition as a positive. Because only from competition are you challenged to go beyond what you ever considered possible. My own example of this was when Bevan Docherty came along and started to beat me before the 2004 Olympic games. At the time I saw it as the worst point in my career, but if he hadn't challenged me, beaten me and shaken my chain a little then I wouldn't have won in Athens.

If you could give your 15-year-old some wise advice, what would it be?
Don't be afraid to fail, it is the key to success. Just don't make the same mistake twice, you are good enough so don't think you can, know you can achieve anything. And be patient, something I have to tell myself most days!

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
I enjoy studying quantum physics.

What is the best part about working with the Sir Peter Blake Trust?
The young New Zealanders who participate in the trust's leadership programmes. They are incredibly hard working, passionate about the long-term success of New Zealand and eager to play a role in achieving that success.

How would your colleagues at the trust describe you?
Restless, driven and always looking for chocolate!

If you were marooned on a desert island, which four people would you want to join you?
Sir Murray Halberg, Nigel Latta, Dave Dobbyn and Will-i-am.

Who is the best boss you've had and what made them great?
I was the 10th person hired to work at Xero and fortunate to spend time with CEO Rod Drury. It was fascinating to be a part of a company that had truly global aspirations. Rod instilled in everyone a sense of "what can we do" rather than "what we can't do", despite so many saying, "that will never work". People like that are special and we need more of them.

When you look back on your life, what are you grateful for?
My parents who believed in me, my coaches who refined my talent, my friends who challenged me, my wife who loves me, my kids who balance me and the resilience that defines me.

Hamish Carter
Hamish Carter, ONZM, is one of the outstanding triathletes of the past decade, winning a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics and a bronze medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. He won 12 International Triathlon Union World Cup races before retiring in 2007. Before joining the Sir Peter Blake Trust he worked in business development roles at Xero and more recently in developing sales and leadership capability at Lion.
In 2009, Hamish founded SportConnect, a business that enables professional athletes to form commercial relationships through Sky Sport. Hamish is also a board member of High Performance Sport New Zealand.

- NZ Herald

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