Taming the tigers at ThinkFM

“The tiger is the thing that stops us. The voices of self-doubt that talk us out of our bold action.” So said Jim Lawless, the opening speaker at #ThinkFM this week, kicking not only a superb conference but also a day of tiger talk among the 350 delegates.

Lawless, who shouted down his tiger and transformed himself from fat corporate lawyer to skinny champion jockey within a year, set out his ten rules for taming tigers. Act boldly today, he urged, time is limited. “Change doesn’t take a long time. Deciding what that change is going to be takes the time.”  His comments had @fmcoach wondering whether if all the delegates acted boldly, Lawless would have an audience left.

Magenta's MD Cathy Hayward and Channel 4's Julie Kortens enjoying Jim Lawless's talk at Think FM
Magenta’s MD Cathy Hayward and Channel 4’s Julie Kortens enjoying Jim Lawless’s talk at Think FM

The presentation, which saw Lawless relive his jockey days crouched balanced on a chair’s arm rests, and the audience, bottoms firmly in the air, mimicking the jockey pose, resonated with everyone at the Royal College of Physicians. “Rewrite your rulebook, challenge it hourly,” Lawless said. “Head in the direction of where you want to arrive, every day.”

Lawless, who in addition to his jockey feat had also trained himself to be a free diver who broke a record by diving to 101 metres, was testament to the success of his rules. “It’s all in the mind,” he said. “What’s in your diary is on there because you like it.” The tools for taming tiger are all around you, he added, describing how he had approached 70 jockey trainers and experts before finding the one, perfect, person to transform him into an elite athlete.

There’s no safety in numbers, Lawless added. “You can’t sit in the bar criticising the people on the track. Get out on the track.” His seventh point was to “do something scary every day” followed by “Understand and control your time to create change.” Describing his routine as a jockey which involved 5am wake-up calls, driving across the country to ride three races in the pouring rain wearing silk, only to go home where a five-mile run awaits, Lawless argued his ninth point: “Create disciplines, do the basics brilliantly.”  Everyone has their own Derby to win, Lawless concluded. “80 per cent of the journey feels tough and odd. The tiger roars at you. But never, never give up.”

A buzzing audience, set up for the day, left the main auditorium to choose between three hubs: Talent: Raising our Game; Performance: Making our case; and Relationships: Realising our value.

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Cathy Hayward