5 Things The Henley Royal Regatta Taught Me About Success

The Henley Royal Regatta is a masterclass in growth mindset – and you don’t have to be a rower to learn from it.

Did you go to the Henley Royal Regatta this year? As a local resident, I’ve been in previous years and in other years I’ve enjoyed the build-up as I drive through Henley-on-Thames.

Professional rowers share a number of impressive qualities, thanks in part to their mindset, their environment, and their experiences. Here’s what we can learn from them.


Every athlete regardless of sport knows the importance of focus. Without crystal-clear focus, it’s easy to let life get in the way (and that’s no way to win a World title). I’m not suggesting we all adopt the unwavering focus of an elite athlete – it doesn’t always leave room for flexibility – but we all need a degree of focus.

What regatta rowers know

Elite rowers are trained to focus on long term career goals, short term targets, and have the ability to narrow their focus on each stroke as they propel themselves towards the finish line.

How we can use it

Goal setting is the first step in any self-improvement journey, but then you need to focus. It’s not enough to pick a goal and have a strategy (although that’s a lot more than most people manage!) Focus means daily reminders to yourself about why your goal is important and the decisions you need to make.


Consistent action is key to getting results in any area, but especially with fitness and fat loss. Being “good” Monday-Thursday won’t get you far if your weekends look completely different. We can all learn from the consistency displayed by regatta rowers.

What regatta rowers know

Those athletes have build a life around showing up consistently – day in, day out, whatever the weather. And it’s not just their work ethic that’s consistent. So are their rowing strokes, in perfect harmony with team mates.

How we can use it 

If you want to get results with your health and fitness, you need to start being consistent. Note that I’m not saying you need to be consistently perfect. But you do need to take positive actions on a consistent basis. Nothing happens without consistency.


Nothing worth having in life comes easily, so you need to be able to push through when you encounter bumps in the road. Regatta rowers are the epitome of determination in their careers and in every race. It’s something we can all learn from.

What regatta rowers know

Rowing hurts! If an elite rower backed off the pace when their lungs started to burn, they’d never win. These athletes have the ability to lock in to an elevated state of determination to push past doubt and discomfort.

How we can use it

We all need to be able to access inner determination to reach a goal. That’s why I encourage you to choose goals that are meaningful to you. Knowing that “why” will help you stay determined to continue even on days when it would feel easier to stop trying.


Perseverance is the art of carrying on even in the face of difficult or delay. It’s a combination of patience and resolve that leads to long-term success in any area of life.

What regatta rowers know

Rowing is a sport that demands perseverance. There are no quick wins – athletes need to learn the skill, build the strength, and then practice relentlessly. As in all sport, there is no ultimate finish line, and that kind of long-range planning demands true perseverance.

How we can use it

When you embark on a fitness or fat loss goal, there will easy and difficult days. Life will try to get in the way, your energy will fluctuate, and stress will make it a challenge. If you want to reach your goal (or make any progress), you’ll need to persevere. The key lies in accepting the perseverance doesn’t mean 100% effort or total perfection. It just means carrying on.


Discipline is a somewhat Stoic characteristic that suits sportspeople down to the ground. But whilst they can turn the discipline dial up to 100, us mortals need to take a more flexible approach but still make progress.

What regatta rowers know

Discipline is the force that drives every training session, every cold and rainy row, and every healthy meal when there’s a more tempting option. It’s all worth it when you cross the finish line in first place.

How we can use it

It’s not practical to demand rigid discipline from yourself – after all, you have a family, social life, and things to enjoy. The trick lies in finding a good balance between enough discipline to keep making progress, with enough flexibility that the habits are sustainable.

If this resonates, get in touch to talk about my online or in-person transformation coaching.

Coach Joseph Webb.

‘The number one rated Personal Trainer In Henley and Oxfordshire’

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