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How To Be a Winner

I couldn't stop smiling while I was watching Olivia Coleman’s acceptance speech at the Oscar yesterday.

Olivia Coleman is not your typical Hollywood diva. “For Anne, [her role in The Favourite ] I wasn’t meant to look nice or be nice, and it was liberating and brilliant. I find it more embarrassing to try to look good“ she said in an interview in the New York Times in November last year. It feels like throughout her career, love for her work was her priority rather than the prize. She didn’t shy away from playing unglamorous roles showing what we call a mastery orientation: getting better at what she was doing rather than playing to win. Eventually she did anyway and big (and by the way this was her first win at the Oscars. She had won a few Baftas before). This might explain why she found it so “hilarious“. In her speech yesterday it was clear that passion and determination made her stick to her dream and the help and support of the people that “made me do things I would say no to” gave her the courage to take risks. So far nothing new. We are used to these tales of determination and endless thank you notes. What made her speech so likeable even to the seasoned Hollywood actresses, who left without a statuette, was how she delivered it. Her speech was so genuine. It had a sense of surprise and an enthusiasm that were contagious. A certain gleam in the eye that cannot be faked. It was authentic.

What can we learn form Olivia Coleman’s success story? That there is not one formula to win but your own and by setting your priorities and goals and working at mastery rather than performance anybody on the stage or in the boardroom can get there. What’s more if we can combine this sense of purpose and mastery and stay true to oneself we are really powerful. Don’t let anybody convince you of the contrary and if they try to stop you, well, you can always blow a raspberry.

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