Devon Harris Goes for the Gold at EMEACon 16

Devon-2_editWe were lucky to have three time Olympian Devon Harris at CompTIA EMEA Member and Partner Conference in Bishopsgate, London. Harris shared his insightful and humorous take on what is needed to achieve success and overcome obstacles.

Harris’ story is inspirational enough, taking him from Jamaica to Sandhurst Military School, and onward to three Olympics as the Captain of the Jamaican bobsled team immortalised by the hit Disney film “Cool Runnings.”

 A huge character, Harris delivered both a humble and humorous look at life and educated the audience on what needs to be done to reach the top.

Harris shared many anecdotes and lessons from his incredible journey. “Never wait until everything is perfect to pursue you dreams,” Harris said. “Nothing will ever be right, so if you sit back waiting, you will continue to wait. Push yourself into places and to try different things, be confident to strive for goals that seem impossible.”

Harris believes the starting point to success is having a clear vision, and went on to explain that when times change or bad things happen, we can often become preoccupied and push in different ways to cope with the reality. “You need to think and plan for the future,” he said, “and visualise what it is you want.

“Create an image of what you aspire to achieve and use it as a tool.” He urged the audience to think about what ideal look and feel like. “Regardless of your circumstances, you can always create the vision,” Harris said. “It is also really important to share your vision with your team. Together you can work towards the same goal.”

Harris was firm in pushing the point that success starts with you. He said having the determination to make it happen is key, but he also urged the audience to remember that no one achieves it on their own. You will always need support and a team, whether colleagues, family or friends working to a clear vision of what you want to achieve. “A bunch of champions pulling in different directions will get nothing done.”  Harris concluded with the statement that success is a team sport and you need to embrace and value the people in your team.

Harris shared a number of tips for people to take away:

Effectively manage your tasks, organise your efforts and direct the activities that can be controlled. Ignore the things you cannot control and only focus on those you can influence.

Manage your people, because as a leader you have huge impact and influence on those around you. You must master communication with an open and honest approach and be prepared to engage with your team. During hard times this can be a challenge, but keep reinforcing your vision with energy and enthusiasm.

You must listen and hear the concerns of your team, work to understand the challenges and work needed, and encourage and empower you team.  

Value your team and talk about the wins together as this creates strong bonds and motivates. If people feel like an instrument of production, they will also feel demotivated.

Be a mentor and a coach to your team, help people learn and grow, and lead by example as your behaviour determines how your team will act.

Use self-evaluation, because you alone are responsible for developing your own value and skills. You cannot lead or help others if you cannot do this for yourself. Manage your behaviours and set examples staff will want to replicate. In addition, don’t become complacent, as complacency breeds failure. Keep focused and never become a victim of your own success. Constantly evaluate where you are right now and how you can improve. Be a continual learning engine.

Be persistent, as you will always encounter obstacles and challenges that get in the way of your vision. You will be tested and will need to be persistent. Don’t quit. Success doesn’t come easy, and you can only succeed if you don’t quit. You need to endure in the face of all difficulty and be confident.

Harris left the stage to rapturous applause, and urged the audience to Keep on Pushing (the title of his book, leaving listeners inspired and uplifted and bringing to a close a wonderful two days at EMEACon.