Meeting Seb Coe

I had the pleasure to meet and have lunch with Lord Sebastian Coe last month. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Seb Coe was one of my sporting heroes, and I watched fascinated as he battled it out to win in races against Steve Ovett and Steve Cram. Coe won four Olympic medals, including the 1500 metres gold medal at the Olympic Games in 1980 and 1984. He set eight outdoor and three indoor world records in middle-distance track events – including, in 1979, setting three world records in the space of 41 days – and the world record he set in the 800 metres in 1981 remained unbroken until 1997.

After he retired from athletics, Seb was a member of parliament for the Conservative Party from 1992 to 1997 for Falmouth in Cornwall, and became a Life Peer on 16 May 2000. He headed the successful London bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics and became chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.

One thing struck me in particular, as Seb would have needed to be super-organised to do all those things, and in particular the gargantuan task of organising the Olympic Games. He said

“Everybody went to bed knowing what they wanted to achieve next day…”

In the midst of hundreds of emails daily, constant demands on our time and having to use various pieces of software and cope with updates daily, learning new skills or amending the old ones, how does one remain focused on the task at hand?

I would say of anyone I have ever met, Seb Coe struck me as a man who had identified his goals and knew how he planned to achieve them, measuring his progress and that of his team. Everyone was clear about what was their responsibility, and what happened if they failed to achieve those goals.

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