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Danielle Brown MBE – Overcoming Difficulty to Achieve Sporting Success

Danielle Brown MBE

Danielle Brown MBE – Overcoming Difficulty to Achieve Sporting Success

Self-belief is vitally important to overcome any challenge in order to achieve your goals (Tweet this!) This is something which has been proven over-and-over again. You may have seen the previous article about how Roger Bannister demonstrated tremendous self-belief in overcoming the challenge of running a mile in under four minutes. Despite having suffered a personal defeat at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952 (where he came away with no medals ) – and the prevailing view that it would be physically impossible for a human being to run a mile in less than four minutes – he proved that it was more than possible to do this in 1954. He persisted with his goal – and it finally came through due to a phenomenal sense of self –belief.

This willingness to overcome adversity and challenge to achieve sporting success has been demonstrated repeatedly by athletes since Bannister’s time – and certainly no less than by Paralympian athletes who have to overcome even greater difficulties and challenges than their able-bodied counterparts.

One excellent example of sporting success psychology has been shown by Danielle Brown MBE, a twice-gold medal winning Paralympic Archery athlete who I had the honour to meet and train with on the recent NFPS NLP course I attended in October 2014. Danielle’s journey is incredibly inspiring when it comes to understanding how to overcome limitations in order to achieve the dizzying heights of success. Let me tell you something of her story to illustrate this…

sporting success






Danielle’s story

Danielle is from Yorkshire and was born in 1988. As a child, she participated in a variety of sports activities with her family and enjoyed a very fulfilled and active lifestyle. However, in her early teens, she contracted a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CPRS) which was literally life-changing. She found that she was no long able to perform any of the activities she used to enjoy doing.

However, this didn’t stop her. Far from it. Instead, she took up archery by joining a local club. Within three years, she was representing her country in the sport and was on the road to Paralympic success. For seven years, she was the top of her game and she even managed to achieve a first-class honours in Law whilst, at the same time, competing in highly prestigious archery events.

The break-through came for her when she achieved Gold at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, but this far from the end of her journey to success. She went on to represent her country as a part of the able-bodied team at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, where the team achieved gold. The pinnacle of her success, however, was in 2012 when she won Gold again at the London games. More achievements were to follow, including being awarded an MBE in 2013 and being presented with an Honourary Doctorate by Leicester University.

What was her secret to success?

Danielle shared many of her secrets with us whilst she was on the course with us, one of which being how she had set goals for herself in terms of what she wanted to achieve in her sporting career. She explained that in terms of goal-setting she would create three specific types of goals, which were as follows:

– Outcome Goals – that is the final outcome (in Danielle’s case winning Paralympic Gold);

– Performance Goals – defined as where you want to be in terms of your own performance, with a view to achieving your Outcome Goals;

– Process Goals – how you are going to get there.

These goals are set as a hierarchy. The best way to think of this is to see them as being part of a ladder of achievement, starting with the process as the bottom, performance mid-way and outcome at the top. It is important, in particular, to review your goals frequently. This is especially crucial with regards to the process goals in order to keep on track to achieve performance and outcome goals.  They are, after all, the means to the end. The process goals can be changed as a result of any monitoring undertaken, where it becomes apparent that there is a need to change something. This ensures that you can remain on track to achieve your final stated targets. The process goals don’t have to be set in stone!

In other words, the process towards the final outcome is effectively one of ‘trial –and-error’ – and this is what interested me in particular. In the pursuit of any goal, you will encounter set-backs and it is by ‘trial-and-error’ that you overcome difficulty to reach success. Sport is no different in this respect, as demonstrated by both Roger Bannister and Danielle. Many people give up all too easily at the first hurdle if they think something won’t work (I’ve been there and done it myself!) What sets apart athletes such as Danielle, who then go on to win Gold, is that they allow their strong sense of self-belief to overcome the obstacles they encounter by being flexible and applying ‘process – performance – outcome goals’ to their training regimes. This is what makes them exceptional.

The defining characteristic that really strikes me about Danielle is that she still continues to demonstrate an unwillingness to give up, whatever the odds. This is particularly exemplified by the fact that, unfortunately, she was recently told that she could no longer compete as a Paralympic athlete as her disability did not comply with the new rules introduced. Although this prevents her from going on to compete in Rio, she still continues on her mission to inspire others. She’s doing this by working in the fields of motivational speaking, stress management and sports psychology. In particular, her aim to inspire young people to focus on success in the same way she has done in her sporting career – as well as training and motivating the next generation of athletes. I am sure that nothing will get in the way of her achieving this goal.

You can find out more about Danielle and her work by clicking here.

Also, click here to find out more about NFPS (The National Federation for Personal Safety) and the courses they offer.

Action Steps:

  1. First of all, define your outcome goal. What is it you want to achieve? What is the end-goal you want to reach? Be as specific as possible.
  2. Define your performance goal – how are you going to measure your progress towards your outcome goal? How will you know that you are achieving your final outcome?
  3. Finally, define your process goal by deciding what things you are going to do to achieve your outcome goal. What things might you have to consider, what resources will you need, how much time will you allocate, who can you get to assist you etc.? Don’t forget – you can always revise and change your process goals as you go along. (You might also find it useful to use the SMART model to assist in setting these three goals.)

What do you think about this? I’d love to hear what you think. Please feel free to share your feedback and ideas in the comments section below.

I’m also hoping to run an NLP course with Danielle sometime in the New Year. Keep an eye out for more details soon!



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