A transition in progress

At the end of August I left my role at Winning Scotland Foundation and embarked on a new journey with the Saltire Fellowship.

This consists of a four month entrepreneurial business course at Babson College in Boston, Massachusetts, learning journeys to Silicon Valley and China then a three month project in Scotland.

As an athlete I’ve always prided myself in taking on new challenges, pushing myself to reach my goals and continually aiming to learn and improve. This attitude enabled me to become a World Champion. I became a big fish in my sporting world

At the moment I’m feeling like a small fish in a big, turbulent and unpredictable ocean. Everything is different and every day is different. I’m living in a new city, meeting new people and being challenged to perform in an environment where I don’t have the years of dedicated training and the confidence to know that I’m ready for the race. It’s a challenge simply to get to the start line.

But then it occurred to me: if sport has taught me anything, it’s that this is the way that it should be. When I first started in triathlon it was awkward and uncomfortable. I persevered and I got comfortable with being uncomfortable. I developed a growth mindset that propelled me to great performances. Now it is time for me to re-embrace being awkward and out of my comfort zone. Through my sporting experiences I know that this is the first step to great things!

On Friday, my colleagues and I completed a consultation project here in Boston. We met our client six weeks ago and were given the task of helping them determine how they could differentiate and market themselves in the Higher Education advisory industry. Six weeks ago I had never heard of advisory services for Higher Education. Six weeks ago I had no background in consulting. Six weeks ago I questioned what value I could bring to my colleagues and to the client. Today I am smiling! We read the brief, met the client and uncovered their problems. We saw that we could have a greater impact for the client if we focussed on trying to determine the root cause of why they were having challenges articulating their solutions to the market. The end result: a satisfied customer and an amazing learning experience.

When I think about how we undertook our project, it strikes me that it wasn’t so different to the way in which I operate as an athlete and coach: we determined an end goal, set short and medium term targets, monitored our performance, worked with our strengths and when we needed help we found expert advice. When we met with our client we listened, questioned and worked with them to develop a plan of action. As a coach I work with my athletes in the same way.

At the start of this journey I doubted that I could make the transition from athlete to business. Today I’m smiling. I can see that I’m transferring the skills and abilities that I developed as an athlete into my new environment. More importantly, I can see where I am performing well and where I need to improve. I’m learning from those around me and I’m learning from my mistakes. I’m applying my growth mindset and it’s holding me in good stead.

Catriona Morrison

World champion triathlete, coach and aspiring businesswoman


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