95: Will it Make the Boat Go Faster? - Ben Hunt-Davis, Gold Medal Olympian, Author, Entrepreneur
Play episode · 53 min

"An Olympic gold medal is a crazy thing to want, and a crazy thing to work towards. The odds - even if you are a world-class athlete - are stacked against you. I discovered that the only way to reach our crazy goal was with concrete, everyday habits." Ben Hunt-Davis

Ben Hunt-Davis MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) is a performance expert, coach, facilitator and keynote speaker. He is also Co-author of “Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?”, the story of how the Great Britain’s men’s eight crew won an Olympic Gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Ben has spent the last 16 years specialising in leadership and team development and in 2012 he co-founded Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?, a performance consultancy which seeks to transform organisational performance through the adoption of elite sport principles and strategies.

Ben and his team have a highly practical approach which focuses heavily focused on the application of performance habits, mindsets and beliefs. Their aim is to ensure that participants genuinely apply new ways of working and behave differently to achieve greater results.


  • Create actionable goals that inspire and excite you
  • Bounce back from setbacks to come out stronger
  • Controlling the controllable
  • Sacrifice is a choice
  • We learn things when we are ready to learn it
  • Analyse your strengths and weaknesses to better evaluate yourself
  • Use your passion as your emotional rocket fuel
  • Turn your "bullshit filters" on to focus better achieving your goal

Ben and Will it Make the Boat Go Faster

Connect on LinkedIn
Will It Make the Boat Go Faster


My name is Sam Harris. I am a British entrepreneur, investor and explorer. From hitchhiking across Kazakstan to programming AI doctors I am always pushing myself in the spirit of curiosity and Growth. My background is in Biology and Psychology with a passion for improving the world and human behaviour. I have built and sold companies from an early age and love coming up with unique ways to make life more enjoyable and meaningful.



Sam's blog - SamWebsterHarris.com
Support the Show - Patreon

Episode Summary

Ben had a hard time with ball sports which led him to try out rowing. He fancied the sport and grew to love it.

at school I rowed simply because I couldn't catch a cricket ball or hit one. So I rowed, cause I just hated ball sports cause I was rubbish

Our guest went to school but found himself choosing the sport he loves than completing a college degree.

**I started civil engineering. The next year I started a different degree. I started time planning cause I failed my first year civil engineering and people told me to, planning was easy at about six weeks in, they wanted me to hand some work in which clearly I hadn't done on.

The head coach was saying, right, you've got a chance again to the Olympics. Do you want to study or do you want to row? So that was perfect.

Back in the day, there was not much money with rowing or sports in general. Ben was challenged to come up with money to support his financial needs as an athlete.

Those days, most people rode for a kind of limited amount of time because you got to get on with life and there's no money in it. in 97 John major started the national lottery with the aim that a lot of the money went to sport and then it changed

Ben was able to share his training regimen as a rower and how his diet was.

We trained seven days a week and we were doing between 15 and 21 training sessions a week. Training sessions varied from two hours to an hour, probably

ate about 7,000 calories a day.

Ben talks about how he views sacrifices as a choice, Explaining how he chose to train for his goal rather than spending his time partying, getting drunk, which would cost him a training session.

I'm not sure how many sacrifices I made because I just did what I wanted to do. There are people quite often will say, what did you give up? Or how many sacrifices (you made), and I'm just not sure I made many cause I think a sacrifice is where you give up doing what you want to do to do something else. And actually what I wanted to do was train hard

Ben also talks about how working hard is not enough. Working hard must be accompanied by working smart. This allows one to assess their performance to reach their goal.

I thought then that working hard was the answer. If I worked hard enough, it would be all right rather than if I learned fast. And the change that happened in the last two years, my rowing career was, it was learning, but where we were just ruthless about making sure we were learning from every session rather than just working hard. And I wish I have started learning earlier in my rowing career cause I think I probably could've done better

Our guest chimes in to what growth mindsert means to him and how to properly process a growth mindset.

All the stuff about growth mindset about continuous improvement, right? The theory behind is all really, really simple common sense but common sense isn't common practice and it's actually really hard to do. Reviewing every single thing, every single session you do, meeting you, come at all. What worked? What didn't, what do I do better tomorrow? You need to know what you're good at so you can repeat it.

Ben mentions how one should be aware of their strengths and weaknesses and choose to focus on the thing that would allow the "boat to go faster."

We couldn't control winning. All we could do was control boat speed. So therefore, boat speed was the most important thing. So therefore we had to do stuff that would make the boat go faster.

After Ben's rowing career, he had married and was not able to calculate his next step as if he was enjoying life at the moment. It took Ben 5 months before finding employment and had to work hard to make a respectable name for himself. Ben avoided using the story of being an Olympian gold medal winner to gauge himself on whethere he was good enough.

I had no plan past my wedding day. I thought that I'd stopped competing after Sydney, and as soon as I crossed the line, I knew that was it. But what came next? I had no idea. And at that point, I was 28 I'd never had a job.

*I wanted to be good at the job for being good at the job rather than what I'd done before. *

Ben explains bullshit filters as a way for him and the rowing team to mute outside noises that could distract them from their goal which was to win.

When I was rowing, we came up with this thing, bullshit filters about kind of these imaginary or defenders, you can Mark them up to maximum deflection and the bullshit just wouldn't get through. So when people that were telling us that we couldn't do it, that we weren't good enough at that we weren't strong enough, we couldn't do this. It was bullshit. It just wouldn't get through. We wouldn't listen

To Ben, there would be days wherein things won't go our way. It happens to everyone. But its how we pick oursleves up from those situations that determine us as an individual and how we reach our end goal.

Naturally, it will take time to recover from setbacks, but we should always find the silver lining of every situation and remember your "why."

Top Tips

Persistence is key

Ben’s story is a great example of someone who overcame a stream of constant challenges, but he kept going rather than letting them prevent him from reaching his goal.

We may not have the same challenges as Ben, but we should all work to overcome barriers that are thrown at us so we can become better each day.

When you get knocked back, get back up straight away. By getting back up and in the game quickly, you don’t lose your momentum and drive. If you whine and feel sorry for yourself you lose ground.

Know your Goal

Having a target makes you start thinking about how you can achieve it, it’s the starting point in planning what you have to do, to get what you want. The alternative is essentially hope, and I don't see many gold medal winners relying on hope.

Work hard, but don't forget to work smarter

When Ben trained, it was clear about what he was training for - how to make the boat go faster.

It’s about daily actions and thought processes, setting goals and then stretching them. Elite performers don’t simply work hard, they also work differently. By challenging both what they do and how they do it – and by knowing what matters most - they change how they perform, measure it, and improve.

Each day, often in small increments, they focus on what will make them better at what they do, check their habits and focus on what matters most for the best possible results against the backdrop of an ultimate goal.


Get any of the books free on audible

Will it Make the Boat Go Faster by Harriet Beveridge & Ben Hunt-Davis

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Robert Pool & Anders Ericsson

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell


If you enjoyed the podcast please subscribe and rate it. And of course, share with your friends!

Special Guest: Ben Hunt-Davis.

Sponsored By:

Support Growth Mindset Podcast

The 5 AM Miracle with Jeff Sanders
The 5 AM Miracle with Jeff Sanders
Jeff Sanders
Distraction-Free Writing with Freewrite Founder Adam Leeb
Episode Show Notes jeffsanders.com/364 . Learn More About the Show The 5 AM Miracle Podcast . Free Productivity Resources Join The 5 AM Club! . The 5 AM Miracle Book Audiobook, Paperback, and Kindle . Connect on Social Media Facebook Group • Instagram • Twitter • LinkedIn . Episode Summary What if You Could Just Write … Without Distractions? I have published 2 books and written hundreds of articles, and yet blocking distractions while writing has always been an issue for me. I fight the urge to not-write so many times that I have to get creative to force myself to just sit and write. That’s why I’m so excited about a new device that can radically improve productivity by eliminating distractions at the source. In this week’s episode of The 5 AM Miracle Podcast I speak with Adam Leeb, co-founder of Freewrite, about how we can all optimize our ability to do what we need to do — any nothing else. . Resources Mentioned in this Episode Calm [Free month of your first year] Swanson Vitamins [Get 20% off and free shipping on orders $50+ with code HEALTHY20] Right Side Up [Free week of service after your first quarter of engagement] Focus@Will [Start your 2-week free trial] Adam Leeb [Adam’s website] Astrohaus [Adam’s company] Freewrite [Distraction-free writing tool] Freewrite Traveler [Smaller travel version of the original Freewrite] Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse [Computer mouse that Adam uses] ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II [Computer keyboard that Adam uses] . Adam Leeb Adam Leeb is an award-winning product designer and mechanical engineer (MIT ’07) originally hailing from the burbs of Detroit, MI. He is obsessed with product design especially in relation to user experience and user interaction. Currently, Adam spends most of his energy as a co-founder at Astrohaus in Detroit, Michigan. In his role there, he ideated, designed, launched, and saw through to mass production the Freewrite distraction-free writing tool. Prior to Astrohaus, Adam founded SunDaily, a nutritional supplement brand focused on Vitamin D and new formulas for the modern desk-worker looking for better performance. Adam started his career on Wall Street working in a variety of roles at Macquarie Bank. He operated as an investment banker, private equity professional, lender, and structured commodities finance provider.
48 min
Brendon Burchard
Don't Get Distracted
If you have a dream, chances are you've had moments where you felt completely on track, and other times where you've felt lost or distracted. In this episode, learn how to actively create productive outputs that matter, so you can create the tangible goals you set out to achieve. “Realize when you're lost in too much learning or busywork at the expense of being on the path to progress.” If you’d like to spend more time focusing on the activities that matter, this episode is for you! Get our HPX Supplement HERE: hpxwellness.com Get your High Performance Planner HERE: highperformanceplanner.com/ For more visit: HPXLIFE.com For more training on high performance, at a deeper and more interactive level, join us in High Performance Monthly training program. It's my monthly subscription training program where I go LIVE every month, training you on a new topic or piece of research from High Performance Institute as well as providing LIVE coaching! If you like this, you'll LOVE that. Subscribe at https://Brendon.com/monthly Subscribe to my YouTube vlog. New episodes (almost) weekly. Join 2 million subscribers on my weekly newsletter, FOUR BREAKTHROUGHS. Get a free copy of my book High Performance Habits (I bought it for you, you just pay your shipping). Follow me on Instagram. ABOUT: Brendon Burchard is the world’s leading high performance coach and one of the most-watched, quoted and followed personal development trainers in history. He is also a #1 New York Times bestselling author and in the Top 100 Most Followed Public Figures on Facebook, with over 10 million fans across his pages. O, The Oprah Magazine, and Success Magazine have both named him one of the most influential leaders in personal growth and achievement. Brendon's videos have been viewed more than 200 million times, and 2 million students have completed his personal development online courses and video series. He's created 13 blockbuster online courses, including the most popular motivation, confidence, and habits online video courses of all time. For these results, Success Magazine featured him on its cover, and Oprah.com named him “one of the most successful online trainers in history.” A #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and #1 USA Today best-selling author, his books include High Performance Habits, The Motivation Manifesto, The Charge, The Millionaire Messenger, and Life’s Golden Ticket. Meet him at Brendon.com
20 min
The Art of Charm
The Art of Charm
The Art of Charm
Geoff Woods | Why Discipline is a Lie & The Billion Dollar Secret to Achieving Your Goals Faster
In today’s episode, we cover prioritization with Geoff Woods. Geoff is the Vice President of The ONE Thing and the host of The ONE Thing podcast which is in the top 5% of all podcasts in the world.   Many of us get distracted by everything we think we have to do and all the directions other people pull us in, but if we let all of those things consume our time, we’ll never get to where we want to be, so how do you figure out what you need to do and accomplish your dreams?   What to Listen For What is the one thing behind extraordinary results and how can you find out what your ONE thing is? What framework can you use to figure out what to focus your time and energy on? How do you narrow down a to-do list to figure out what the most important items are? What can you do to stay disciplined and focused on the important tasks in your personal and professional lives? How do you build more discipline? How do you improve different areas of your life if you’re only focusing on one thing at a time? How do you set goals that pull you toward them? What can you do to strengthen your willpower and use it in a meaningful way? What is the value in finding a coach to help you achieve your goals and dreams?   Multitasking has been scientifically proven to be less effective than focusing on one task at a time. However, focusing on the wrong tasks one at a time will also be ineffective. First, we must come up with a clear vision of what we want, and then drill down to the smallest tasks we can accomplish on a daily and weekly basis. This way we are able to track our progress toward the long term goal while also prioritizing the important tasks over less important tasks that might get thrown our way everyday.   A Word From Our Sponsors Share your vulnerabilities, victories, and questions in our 17,000-member private Facebook group at theartofcharm.com/challenge. This is a unique opportunity where everyone — both men and women — celebrate your accountability on the way to becoming the best version of yourself. Register today here!   Resources from this Episode The ONE Thing book The ONE Thing website The ONE Thing podcast  Your 411 Worksheet   Check in with AJ and Johnny! AJ on Instagram Johnny on Instagram The Art of Charm on Instagram The Art of Charm on YouTube See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
55 min
How to Be Awesome at Your Job
How to Be Awesome at Your Job
Pete Mockaitis
617: Enhancing Your Productivity by Managing Your Mental Energy with David Kadavy
David Kadavy explains how to harness your mental energy to improve your productivity.  — YOU’LL LEARN —  1) How our obsession with time management hurts us  2) Three questions to ask to get more work done  3) How to easily shift to the optimal mental state for work  Subscribe or visit AwesomeAtYourJob.com/ep617 for clickable versions of the links below.  — ABOUT DAVID —  David Kadavy is a bestselling author, blogger, podcaster, and speaker. Through his blogging at kadavy.net and his podcast, Love Your Work, he helps people find satisfaction through following their crafts, even if it takes them down unconventional paths. David's writing has appeared in Quartz, Observer, Inc.com, The Huffington Post, McSweeny's Internet Tendency, and Upworthy. He has spoken in eight countries, including appearances at SXSW at TEDx. He lives in Medellín, Colombia.  • David’s book: Mind Management, Not Time Management: Productivity When Creativity Matters  • David’s book: The Heart to Start: Stop Procrastinating & Start Creating  • David’s Twitter: @kadavy  — RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE SHOW —  • App: Todoist  • Plugin: Boomerang  • Product: AlphaSmart NEO  • Publication: Neuron  • Book: The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight, and the Brain by John Kounios and Mark Beeman  • Book: The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence by Josh Waitzkin  • Book: The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility (Incerto) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb  • Previous episode: 052: Mind Management for Productivity with David Kadavy  • Previous episode: 063: The Optimal Time For Everything with Dr. Michael Breus  — THANK YOU SPONSORS! —  • Pitney Bowes. Simplify your shipping while saving money. Get a free 30-day trial and 10-lb shipping scale at pb.com/AWESOME.
50 min
The Tony Robbins Podcast
The Tony Robbins Podcast
Tony Robbins
Continuing the Conversation for Healing and Unity | (Part 2) Taking a stand against injustice and creating real change
“Let’s create not only some healing here but some real change. … Change is automatic, but progress is not. And so this is a conversation today to see if we can create some progress. … What this is really about is getting to what we can do to tap into unity, and love, and compassion, and connection to one another. What can we do to move forward?” – Tony Robbins It’s been over three months since the death of George Floyd, the unarmed, 46-year-old black man, who was unconscionably killed by police in broad daylight during an arrest in Minneapolis. Captured on cell-phone video and amplified in the media, the whole world witnessed his horrific death, and it has reignited a centuries-long conversation around race supremacy in the United States and the injustice that African Americans can face. The aftermath of George Floyd’s death — and combined stacking of others like Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and most recently the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. — has brought this nation to a threshold. With thousands of people around the world in grief, humanity is speaking loud and clear: enough is enough, the time is now to create real change rooted in our nation’s foundation of ‘justice for all.’ Beyond change, we need progress. As Tony said in the first episode of this special two-part podcast series, change is automatic – but progress is not. The conversation continues. In this 2-hour episode, Tony hosts a panel of five unique, multi-generational leaders who share their experience of what it is to be Black in America and lend their voice to what we, as a unified society, need to listen to and hear, to unite, to make progress, and ultimately to tap into love, compassion, and our deep connection to one another. “If love is not yet won, the battle is not yet over.” – Martin Luther King III Part 2 Guests: Charlamagne tha God (Radio show host, author, influencer) Rev. Jesse Jackson (Civil rights activist, former aide to Martin Luther King, Jr.) Barbara Becnel (Journalist, film producer, prison reform advocate) Van Jones (Author, television host) Derrick Johnson (President and CEO of the NAACP)
1 hr 57 min
More episodes
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu