Psychology tips from an Olympic athlete turned property developer

Edward Fernon transformed himself into an Olympic athlete in record time. He then proceeded to build a successful property development business. Below he offers small business owners and entrepreneurs psychological tips he’s used to succeed in two different arenas.

At 19, Edward Fernon, tired of his party-hard student lifestyle, resolved to take up the obscure but demanding sport of Modern Pentathlon and compete at the Olympic Games. With no funding and limited support, a little over four years later he was representing Australia at the 2012 London Olympics. Shortly thereafter, he started his own property development company, Freedom Development Group. He is now seeking to “put his stamp” on Australia’s property market.

Here the 29-year-old details how he’s using sporting psychology techniques to follow in the footsteps of other athletes turned entrepreneurs such as Greg Norman, Venus Williams and George Foreman. 

Pick your passion

“The first step is to find something that you are passionate about” Fernon says. “I had a well-paid and promising job in finance after graduating but I wasn’t excited about going to work and wanted to run my own race, so I soon quit. Now I find myself leaping out of bed in the morning and thinking about all the things I need to do for my business, the same way I used to constantly think about what I needed to do to get to the Olympics.”

Embrace the W.I.N mindset

“While preparing for the Olympics I found myself sitting in a dining hall next to Michael Phelps and his coach Bob Bowman” Fernon says. “I asked Bob why the athletes he trained were so successful. He said it came down to the ‘What’s important now?’ (W.I.N) mindset he encouraged. He explained that it meant constantly asking yourself “What do I need to do right now to be successful tomorrow? You don’t focus on the past or the future, or all the things you can’t control. You just focus on living in the present and giving your best at this moment. Whether that’s getting up for a pre-dawn training session or having a productive meeting with a stakeholder.” 

“The question isn’t whether the techniques work, it’s whether busy people are willing to apply them” Fernon says. “If they do, I have no doubt it will have a significant effect on their business and their entire life.”   

Talk to yourself 

“Property development involves a lot of risks. There are also lots of high-pressure situations where you need to argue your case to investors, purchasers or bureaucrats” Fernon says. “Just like competing in a major sporting event, maintaining positive self-talk is vital, especially when things don’t go according to plan. There’s no magic set of words but I often repeat phrases such as ‘I’ve done this before and I can do it again’ or ‘I can do this. I’m excited about this challenge, this is going to be a great experience.’”

Use your imagination

“Closing a business deal is more multifaceted than, say, shooting a target but both scenarios can benefit from visualisation. I often visualise what the ideal outcomes would be as well as how I would respond to different situations.”

Great but does it work for non-athletes?

World-class sportspeople are usually single-minded obsessives, which makes their success in several fields unsurprising. But can the average businessperson also use these techniques and expect results?

“The question isn’t whether the techniques work, it’s whether busy people are willing to apply them” Fernon says. “If they do, I have no doubt it will have a significant effect on their business and their entire life.”  

Whether you want to be an Olympic athlete, a property developer or something else, personal accident insurance can protect you from any mishaps along the way. Your Steadfast insurance broker can obtain quotes for you to consider.    

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