Bradie Tennell at a young age on the ice
By Your Edge Contributor | August 27, 2019

Stories from the Edge: “My Secret to Capturing a Performance Edge on the Ice and in Life”

Olympic figure skating medalist Bradie Tennell talks training, persistence and passion in this exclusive interview

Editor’s Note: Olympic figure skating bronze medalist and U.S. champion Bradie Tennell may not be able to remember exactly why she would ask her mom to take her skating at the age of two, but she can’t forget the feeling she has every time she flies across the ice today. And, though she spends her days training for competition, the strategies and techniques she uses to rise above the competition could very well be used by your workers and organization to gain a performance edge.  Listen to her story and then read her advice to you below:

I’m often asked what it takes to be an Olympian or a champion. People want to know what I do to capture my edge. But I am only human.

Like anyone else with a job or a goal, I show up every day and work as hard as I can to perfect my skills. And I don’t settle for a single “win.” I challenge myself every day to try something new, and I don’t let myself get disappointed if I don’t master it right away. I just give it all I have in that moment and then take the time to analyze what worked, what didn’t and why. I’m constantly assessing my performance, even if it’s just during practice, so that I can understand how to adjust my training, technique and, sometimes, my overall routine. That’s something that I think anyone can relate to.

I know a lot of Zebra customers are searching for ways to boost the performance of their front- line workers and that technology plays a big role in that.

The Zebra team shared this video with me about how NFL athletes and coaches are using RFID sensors and Internet of Things technology to track player and ball movements on the field. As an athlete, I understood the benefit immediately.

Unlike speed skating, where time is a primary metric and skaters are constantly moving in a linear direction, figure skating is all about timing, body positioning, balance and more dynamic factors that influence how well I can change directions in a split second while moving across horizontal and vertical planes. For example, I have to understand how much force to exert on my jumps to reach desired heights or complete a certain number of rotations. Of course, I have to think about speed, too, as well as my steps. But that’s just the beginning. Judges grade us on how well we execute every single move, and even the slightest misplacement of my blade can cause them to dock points or – worse – cause me to fall. If you’ve ever watched figure skating or listened to the commentary, you’ll know what I mean.

Though improving my technique and mastering certain moves requires me to be really tuned into how my body feels, I understand how technology helps analyze a performance from a different – and more objective – perspective. It’s amazing what technology can do to help athletes and businesses improve their performance edge.

The competition is tough at the qualifying level and even harder at the Olympics. I constantly have to adapt and improve to keep up. But that’s the reality of any job, right? Whether you’re striving for an award or promotion or working to win new business, you must constantly assess and adapt your strategy and approach. That’s just part of being human.

And that’s why Bradie is one of our heroes here at Zebra!

She gets it. There’s no single “solution” to any problem and no single path to success. There are certain techniques or best practices that can be applied and there are tools that can help us improve our execution of a task – such as the mobile, RFID, IoT and other technologies being used on the front lines and behind the scenes by sports organizations, manufacturers, warehouses, field service organizations and more. However, every decision and action must be personal to you. What worked for someone else may not be as impactful for you.

In other words: the key to capturing your edge is to acknowledge your unique challenges and limitations, assess all potential solutions, apply the techniques and tools available, analyze current performance, adapt your strategies, tools and techniques and then repeat as needed as outside factors change (market dynamics, competition, demands, etc.)

This approach works for Bradie, and it can work for you too!


We want to know! What’s your secret to success? Is there something in particular that has helped you capture your edge, either personally or professionally? Tell us in the Comments section below.

Then, check out other Stories from the Edge:

Inside Zebra Nation,

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