The Sporting Mind provides mental performance coaching to sports performers as well as business clients and individuals who are looking to have a
point of difference, either in ‘performance’ or wellbeing. Working with major sporting teams, founder Andy Barton has over 16 years’ experience and is regularly called on to speak at high profile events
and conferences. Andy coaches leading actors, sports and
TV personalities as well as musicians and dancers which led by reputation and referral onto working with business leaders and politicians. Andy is naturally quiet about who he has worked with. Discretion is important when he is ‘in the mind’ of not only some of the most elite teams and names in sports, but business leaders in charge of multi million pound empires.

We caught up with Andy to see how his unique brand of development has helped many clients, and how it can help your business too.

How did you get into coaching and development?

I had studied sports psychology but ended up in marketing. At the end of the millennium I went to see a business coach who asked me what I wanted to do in a dream world and I said ‘performance coaching with top sports people.’ It seemed ludicrous, but I realised no one else was doing it. I did more studying, and then I started coaching. It started with golfers and suddenly, things just went really well. 16 years later I’m still doing it and I’m asked to speak at some amazing events and conferences.

Can you summarise what you do?

Really it’s about engaging the imagination so people can communicate effectively with not only others – but themselves. That’s the core. We are all driven and motivated purely by our imaginations, the carrot in front of you – the holiday, car or the gold medal, winning – I help to create imagery in the mind that helps them achieve those goals. There are many ways of doing this. We all know that the voice in the head is the main motivator, also the main de-motivator! I tackle things like procrastination, and the myth of ‘realism’ – most self- proclaimed realists are true pessimists! I try and make sure that people don’t see reality as fixed, but changeable.

Do goals help or harm in a workplace?

People tend to achieve goals when they make them vivid – so I say, really define it and define each step! I see a lot of ‘I want to be a CEO of a top FTSE company’, but if all you see is that and not each step that gets to there – the self- belief soon drops off. Small steps to get to basecamp are key, as is being flexible with a goal. Being doggedly determined at any cost can be a failure as much as a success. Goals are great, but I always say, ‘don’t be a status led culture’. This is a place where you value people for being talented or gifted. It is better to be proud of being a learning culture where you have a passion for development. I worked with a client who changed the whole culture of his business to one with a learning culture, so instead of employing top university candidates they began taking on people with a propensity for learning. This made it a much more pleasant place to work and the company is thriving – the egos are gone!

What about competition in the workplace?

I think there is a problem with competitiveness where we become too competitive and lose sight of the bigger picture. I have worked with people high up in business who won’t share in case the younger people learn more than they do! –so it isn’t always a good thing. You get a lot of problems with bonus culture, where you look for how people didn’t make the grade. I think it’s much healthier
to look for people are doing well and let them know as quickly as possible. Companies that thrive give around six times more positive feedback to each negative. I have worked a lot in Japan and they have a really strong fear of failure as part of the culture. They have the highest fear of failure ratio in the developed world and this affects the economy as there aren’t enough entrepreneurs. I go and

do workshops on embracing the making of mistakes because that’s how you learn. I literally ask people to make objectives for people to fail!

How important is the purpose behind a goal?

Very. I worked with a guy who owns a hedge fund and is one of the  wealthiest men in the country and when I started working with him, he didn’t FEEL successful. All he thought about was making money which became empty after a while. You need a purpose, what does the money give you? What is the culture of your organisation? You see this with charity … if you feel you need to do something that is close to you that has a big purpose then nothing else matters. The person who fears public speaking will go speak on a huge stage and ask for support, because the purpose is bigger than the fear.

Andy is available for consultations and is based out of Stamford and London.

He is currently taking on clients, as either individuals or businesses. Take a look at: