World-beaters start with a winning state of mind

A Letter From London 2012
Nanjing Night Net

DEAR Readers,

In part this is a story about Gina Rinehart, but before that, the Olympics.

As the Olympic closing ceremony approaches, it’s plain that there will be ongoing media coverage about how Australia performed. It will be intense and there will be nowhere to hide as the questions are asked about how our athletes can better use their capacities to perform world-beating physical feats.

We are a complex species and it’s plainly not just about who has the biggest muscles.

It’s about body and mind. Having the will to win is not quite the same as having the body to win.

Plainly the Australian Olympic team needs a much better understanding of this complex mind-body relationship and the first nation to understand as much about preparing the mind as the body will have dramatic success – in all things.

All this was uppermost in my mind earlier this week as I shot back from the UK briefly to take up the chairmanship of the newly expanded Florey Institute – the second-biggest mental health research institute in the world.

One in five Australians suffer from mental health and brain problems. It is one of our greatest tragedies – yet at the same time one of our greatest opportunities, with the coming together of the world-leading mind and brain institutes of Melbourne and Monash universities to meet the most important challenge of the 21st century – how the brain really works. The opportunities are even greater because of the explosion in the middle class of Asia, already known for its rapidly growing consumer market but lesser known for the proliferation of some of the side effects of wealth – obesity, depression, addictions and degenerative brain disease that often accompanies longevity.

The world of the Florey is set to have worldwide influence and benefit. It deals with many issues, but at the top of the list are near breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and addictions. Solutions to these problems will transform humankind.

The Florey is totally committed to being world’s best in this field and my trip home between the opening and closing ceremonies made me wonder if anyone in our Olympic organisation knows as much about tuning minds for success as they know about tuning the bodies.

About 2500 years ago, Buddha observed, ”What the mind thinks, we become.” It’s true for everything, including business. And the Florey is here to take it a whole lot further.

Gina Rinehart’s fortune was built as a result of a light plane trip by her father, Lang Hancock. Adele Ferguson brilliantly tells the story in her riveting unauthorised biography. In 1952, Lang Hancock was flying from their home in the Nunyerry to Perth when bad weather forced him to drop to 1000 feet.

Flying just above the ranges in heavy rain, he saw a glistening in the rock faces that can only be identified at a distance in a torrent. It was one of the greatest iron ore deposits on earth.

Hancock had the mind of a winner and that mind in turn trained his daughter brilliantly in persistence and refusal to be defeated. In Gina’s case, she wants gold. Lots of it.

Our Olympians and their trainers would do well to develop these qualities to a much higher level.

Our opportunity to achieve international success in everything we do depends, more than anything else, on having a winner’s mind.

Harold Mitchell is an executive director of Aegis.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.