I listened with fascination to the Q&A with Caroline Currid, at a breakfast briefing hosted by MKC Communications this week. Caroline is one of Ireland’s leading performance psychologists working with corporate and sports clients in Ireland and abroad. She is a highly sought-after figure in the field of elite performance. Her sports clients include, GAA All-Ireland winning teams Tyrone, Dublin, Tipperary and Limerick; Ireland rugby legend Paul O’Connell and Kenyan 800-metre Olympic champion David Rudisha. Her corporate clients include Genzyme, O2, Bank of Ireland to name but a few.
There were many insights shared by Caroline but the following particularly stood out for me.
1. Focus on your own performance
Caroline worked with Munster and Ireland rugby legend Paul O’Connell from 2008 until his retirement in 2015. In their first encounters, it was clear that Paul was frustrated with the different characters and the diverse levels of training across his team. She worked with him to focus on his own performance – on what he could control. When working with teams she takes the power out of momentous events like championship finals – or coming head to head with the All Blacks; in every performance, a team plays against itself only. They can control their own performance on any given day – the other team is irrelevant.
2. Measurement is everything
When working with corporate clients and commercial teams, Caroline is constantly surprised that often teams are not aware of what is expected of them, and as a result, are often unaware when they are underperforming. When she works with sports teams, she ensures that on the pitch, KPIs and processes are clear and strict, not just at game level but down to each phase of play. No one on the pitch is in any doubt as to what is expected of them. This leads to consistency of performance, even under pressure and also allows players to hold each-other accountable – peer-to-peer. She translates these techniques when working with corporate teams which has a proven record of enhancing performance.
3. Live in the moment
Caroline’s experience working with the Kenyan Olympic team taught her that “Westerners have watches, Kenyans have time”. She was really struck by the athletes’ ability to live in the moment which gave a clarity of focus to their performance which she had rarely seen elsewhere.
4. Unity is key
She encourages the teams that she works with to really get to know each other; to open up their vulnerabilities in an environment that makes it safe to share who they really are. Again on the corporate stage, she was astonished to encounter team members working side by side for a decade who knew nothing about each other outside of the workplace.
Peer-to-peer understanding is a technique that she learned from a case study on the All Blacks. The result? Absolute unity of purpose. She believes the All Blacks are the best because of their unity.
As if Caroline should have a crystal Ball into the outcome of tomorrow’s test between Ireland and New Zealand, she was asked – “Can Ireland possibly emerge victoriously?
Caroline’s response was truly telling and underpins all of her work with corporates and athletes alike. “Why shouldn’t Ireland win? What makes you believe they cannot win?”. Caroline implies that if Ireland is truly united on the day, focus on their own performance, play tight to their process and KPIs phase by phase, there is no reason in the world they can’t win.
Fingers crossed for Ireland on the day!!!!
Over the last decade, Caroline’s results within Ireland’s GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) have been ground-breaking. She worked with the Tyrone senior football team in 2008 when they achieved the ultimate goal of winning the All-Ireland title. She then went on to help the Tipperary Senior Hurlers in 2010 to win the All-Ireland championship for the first time in 10 years and she supported this year’s Hurling winners, Limerick who were victorious for the first time in 45 years. Caroline was an integral part of the Dublin Senior Gaelic Footballers’ backroom team as they bridged a 16-year gap to take the All-Ireland title in 2011. She also lived in Kenya on the lead up to the 2012 London Olympic games and worked closely with 800-metre Olympic champion David Rudisha. Caroline has also brought her coaching philosophies into the corporate world and has achieved outstanding results with her clients including Genzyme, O2, Bank of Ireland and more.