Chris Nikic is a 21-year-old man from Florida, who gives us a wonderful example of how an event provides the platform to take people on a powerful journey.
That’s because a few years ago, Chris and his dad created a plan for Chris to become the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman.
Chris and his dad set out on their journey with a big goal - backed by a simple but effective plan - to get 1 per cent better every day.
And he did it.
This is a remarkable achievement for Chris, or for anyone, to swim 3.8 kilometres, cycle 180 kilometres, and then run a marathon - and not forgetting everything it takes to get to the start line.
The Journey of Aspiration
Chris started with some small steps: an entry-level triathlon followed by a sprint and then Olympic distance, before taking on a half Ironman and then... the full version.
They took these steps along what we call in our work the 'Journey of Aspiration', where Chris was driven to achieve steps towards his goals and build his abilities as he went. And along the journey, each event experience provided the platform to showcase his capability and achieve his aspiration.
Stories like this are significant but are just samples of the opportunities to positively influence people. It can be in many ways but ultimately gives us the power to have an effect on people, to have an influence, and have a positive impact.
The 1 thing
We do a lot of research on why people get involved with our sports and events, and people have different relationships with these activities, but I find there is one thing they had in common that triggers them to sign up and show up.
It comes in different forms, but that thing was an aspiration.
Whether it is something they knew they wanted to do, or seeing the activity made them think it was something they could do, what was consistent and necessary was the igniting of an aspiration inside them.
As a provider of an experience, the first thing you need to do is to understand what people’s ambitions are, and the many types of hopes they may have, and connect with them.
They must see this aspiration, for them, in your website, in the content, and in the physical experiences you put in front of them.
Whatever activity you offer, whether it be a game or a gala day, tournament or tour, a workout session or a series of events, it must provide some form of aspiration to those people.
An aspiration 'is a hope or ambition to achieve something' - a place where motivation is created, where inspiration comes from, and where people seek opportunities. And if you want to influence people to sign up and show up again and again, connecting with their aspirations is the vital element in fueling their interest.
This comes in different ways and is different for different people, but either way, each person must see an opportunity they wish to aspire to, one which creates motivation within them.
It may be in the form of a goal or challenge, it may be less about competition but another sort of progress as a person, or even simply just to escape everyday life, to enjoy an activity more; whichever way, the experiences you provide must open up something extra in their life.
For some, it is to live a better lifestyle. For others, it may be to share some experiences with friends. For others, it is a way of life.
For Chris and his dad, it was to share something together and to inspire other people. These were personal aspirations that meant something to them, which they then acted on. As we find within our participants, the aspiration is to participate in a sport as a whole, in the moment but also across a phase in time. Every time they do the activity (like all of us, some days are better than others), the main thing that will keep luring them to keep it up will be their own fire burning within them. That aspiration.
What are you providing to your people?
There may be similar or different aspirations across your participants and volunteers, but if you want people to sign up for your event, program, or campaign, it must first provide the aspiration that connects with your people’s desires, hopes, and ambitions. This may be to learn a new skill, progress with something, feel fitter or better, or have more fun; whatever it may be, it is powerful and valuable if you know what it is and can give it to them. You must show this to them in your promotions and give it to them in the activities. And then, your experience must enable people to keep fulfilling or working towards these aspirations, so they keep coming back. They may be striving for the same thing they set out to do or feel, or it may become the next thing they want to achieve.
I talk more about aspiration in my new book.
So THIS is your opportunity When we connect with people's aspirations, it is an incredibly powerful place to be. You might be doing that already, but if you think I can help you and your team, please let me know. Let's start creating a more active world, together. Get more people involved in your sport or events - more often, for longer!