Welcome to my regular series entitled My Light Bulb Moment. This series highlights a "blinding flash of insight", business, cultural and sports leaders have had in their career, and how this changed their lives forever.
It's amazing how often we can end up focusing on the outcome of a big project instead of the things that really matter to create the best result.
Growing up in rural Piopio, Rob was drawn to the outdoors, rugby and rowing. Then in 1995 as a novice sculler, he became the youngest person ever to win the single sculls title at the New Zealand Championships. From here, his success blossomed and he went on to win the World Championships in Germany and Canada. His rowing career was capped with Olympic Gold at Sydney in 2000.
Since then, Rob has gone on to be a key part of three America's Cup sailing teams and will be the New Zealand chef de mission at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Light bulb moment - plan and play your own game
When Rob was a young single Sculler, he spent several years trying to break into the top ranks. "However, for some strange reason, I always drew the same guy who would always beat me into the final," Rob says. "It happened so often it became a really big mental barrier, and I often found myself explaining to people, "I didn't make the final because I drew 'that guy' again!"
Thankfully, Rob was privileged to have some very good coaches during his career, and one of the key things he learned during this critical time was that "winning was about focusing a lot more on my own boat, and not worrying about external factors".
At one key regatta in Germany using this new mental approach, Rob chose a race plan, stuck to it, and finally beat his sporting arch-rival.
"Finally I stopped making excuses and accepted that to be the 'very best', I had to line up expecting to beat the very best."
Start well - finish well
Getting the preparation right, then focusing on your own performance allows you the opportunity to perform at your very best. The work required to achieve any major goal or objective can seem so daunting (especially at the start), however, on most occasions it's the preparation that ultimately decides that outcome.
"I believe it's about making excellence a habit in your chosen field, and the outcome takes care of itself. When it comes to crunch time, you don't HOPE to do well, you KNOW you are going to do your best."
• If you have had a blinding moment of insight (a light bulb moment), please email me.
Contact Tom O'Neil to speak at your next event - Tom is an award winning business speaker and best-selling international author. Email Tom for a chat at tom@AchievementExpert.com.