"The Mindset of Champions" Blog Part 1 - What we learnt from our evening with Sir Jackie Stewart OBE and Damon Hill OBE

July 14, 2021

"The Mindset of Champions" Part 1

Back in February 2021, I was fortunate enough to sit down with two Formula One World Champions, Sir Jackie Stewart OBE and Damon Hill OBE, to help raise money for their respective charities, Race Against Dementia and halow project.

This week in the lead up to the British Grand Prix, a race which both men have won, I thought it was an ideal time to look back on that evening and over the next few weeks (and with the help of the wonderful imagery provided by our friends at Scribble Inc), see my key takeaways when looking at "The Mindset of Champions".

To find out more about their fantastic charities or donate, which we raised £7,500 for that evening, please visit www.raceagainstdementia.com or www.halowproject.org.uk

These blog series supported by the fantastic visuals from Scribble Inc (Picture Copyright: Scribble Inc)

1. Fly with the Eagles and Hang out with the Right People - Sir Jackie Stewart

One of Sir Jackie Stewart’s main points in the evening was to hang out with the right people and grow your connections. “If you fly with the crows, you are likely to get shot, crows are vermin” the 3 times World Champion said “…if you sore with the eagles, you are above shot. Hang out with the right people and you are doing an awful lot better than you might have thought!”

He spoke about the partnerships he had formed whilst being a driver and since then. These partnerships with the likes of the Ford Motor Company, Rolex and Moet had lasted 40 plus years and he said the secret behind keeping those was to always under promise and over deliver.  

“I know some people are listening to this as they want to learn some nuggets from Jackie more than myself” Damon Hill modestly injected “Jackie stopped racing before his 100th Grand Prix and he never drove a road car after that, he was always chauffeur driven because he’s always on the phone building up contracts, using his fame and making connections with the right people. He was able to build Stewart Grand Prix because of Jackie and his reputation, that’s a real lesson!”

“Once you get those opportunities, it has a domino effect on what you do!” says Sir Jackie.

Sir Jackie talks about how hanging out with the right people has led him to success

In Summary

Surrounding yourself with the right people is the key factor to any success whether in sport or business. Your network is one of the most important assets you have, so always make sure you are connecting with the right people! I think Sir Jackie puts it very well when describing his thoughts behind any successful partnership as "Under Promise and Over Deliver". Always think about who can help you but also how you can help them, it's a two way street! It’s also important to understand if you have any “Crows” (as Sir Jackie puts it) in your network because reputation is everything! I’m not saying dump them (yet!), just be aware!

2. If you are in the race, you have a chance - Damon Hill

Back in 1997 Damon was the reigning Formula One World Champion, however he now found himself down the back of the grid with the un-competitive Arrows team having been let go of by Williams.

On the whole the season was fairly uneventful, apart from a surprise race in Hungry where Damon overtook Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari early on to lead the race, until a mechanical issue meant he had to slow down and finish in second on the last lap.

However, that wasn’t the only thing that was memorable from that season, as the 1996 World Champion spoke about a chance encounter with a fan at the Canadian Grand Prix a few races earlier, whilst going down the hotel lift to go to the race that left a lasting message with him.

“She asked me ‘are you driver?’, and I said ‘yes’!” Damon says “she then asked ’are you going to win the race?’ And I said you ‘obviously you don’t know much (about F1) I’m in an Arrows!!'” Damon continues “She said ‘yeah but you are in the race right?’ and I said yeah and she replied ‘well then you’ve got a chance haven’t you?’'" Damon reflected on this and thought “I like that attitude…anyway a few races later I was in the lead of the Hungarian Grand Prix in an Arrows, so she was right and I was wrong!”

Damon Hill tells us about the lady in the lift at the Canadian Grand Prix in 1997

In Summary

The reason I picked this example out as a lesson that shows that whatever you choose to do - you have to put yourself in “the race” or in other words the right place! Like we have seen the English Football team do over the last few years by getting into Semi Finals and more recently a Final, if they continue to do that then they’ll always have a chance of winning a tournament. In any walk of life, when you don’t even try to get there, or put yourself in the right position, then you can’t complain about not being successful! In work this means applying for the job you want, or getting the correct qualification for what you are looking to achieve. It can also mean just asking a question when others don’t - as we always say - if you don’t ask you don’t get!

We hope you have enjoyed part 1 of our look back on our fantastic evening with Sir Jackie Stewart and Damon Hill and I would like to thank them both for their time and input with the event. Make sure you come back next week to IgnitionPerformance.com - as we'll be look at their next key lessons on: "Finding your own way to lead" and "Understand how to deal with Disappointment and changing your Approach".

In the meantime here is a clip from the evening as Sir Jackie and Damon discuss why he didn't join Stewart GP in 1997 and we also have some great videos and information about Race Against Dementia and halow project for you to enjoy.

About Race Against Dementia

Today, 50 million people around the world have dementia. Unless a cure is found, one in three people born today will die with dementia. A new person develops dementia every three seconds. This crisis cannot continue.

Race Against Dementia is driven to raise money to fund breakthrough and innovative dementia research.

About The halow project

The halow project is a growing community-based charity, situated in Guildford, Surrey. We support young people, aged 16+, with a learning disability on their journey into adult life.

The young people we work with want the opportunity to:

- Build relationships

- Become part of the community

- Find meaningful employment

- Have a home of their own

Sir Jackie and Damon were talking to Ignition Human Performance founder Nick Butcher

About Ignition Human Performance

Bespoke Leadership and Teamwork Development Courses using Lessons from High-Performance Motorsport

The World of Top-Level Motorsport can be highly secretive when it comes to understanding how teams unlock people performance to win races and championships.

However, here at Ignition Human Performance we understand how Leadership, Teamwork and Performance can be implemented within Companies of all sizes and across industries. Using these lessons we enable teams to shape and develop effective People Strategies and Results.

We call this Our Motorsport DNA.

By utilising our knowledge and connections, Ignition takes Businesses behind the pit wall, on a fully immersive learning experience. These programmes can be delivered to your team either online (E-Ignition) or at Motorsport venues such as Team HQ’s and circuits.  

This will enable your people to truly understand what makes the difference between success and failure in Motorsport, when it comes to Building High-Performance Teams and Effective Leaders.

‍The Race has only just begun and we will help you prepare for it.


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Nick Butcher

Nick has been an HR & Leadership Professional for nearly 15 years and has held senior HR positions within both Corporate Multinational and SME Companies.
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Nick Butcher

Nick has been an HR & Leadership Professional for nearly 15 years and has held senior HR positions within both Corporate Multinational and SME Companies.
Get in touch >>
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