Getting the Best out of People; It Took Some Courage for a 22-Year-Old Physical Education Teacher to Tell Britain's Best All-Round Athlete to "Be a Bit More Polite". but in an Interesting Career, Successful Peak Performance Coach Bernie De Souza Hasn't Been Short of Self-Confidence. Ross Reyburn Spoke to Him about His Career
Byline: Ross Reyburn
It was back in his service days with the RAF that Bernie De Souza, who both lives and runs his office in the county town of Warwick, had an entertaining encounter with the great Daley Thompson, decathlon gold medal winner the 1980 Moscow and 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
Mr De Souza was looking after competitors at RAF Cosford's indoor arena in Shropshire where he remembers Daley "constantly telling everyone he was the best athlete in the world.
"He wasn't aggressive - he said it in a nice sort of way with a little smile, but he meant it.
"There was just one changing room like a hanger for all the athletes and Daley said: 'How do you expect the best athlete in the world to get changed here?' "I said: 'Daley let me give you a tip - I am the best PTI (physical training instructor) in the world so if you want to use my private dressing room perhaps you ought to be a bit more polite!
'He laughed. I was 22, I suppose."
Mr De Souza also remembers another equally comic interlude when Thompson, while eating, told a young autograph hunter: "I am the best athlete in the world - I won't be if I don't finish this meal".
"This kid then said: 'This other athlete signed last week'. Daley Thompson turned round and said to the kid: 'That's why he's not the best in the world!' "Having said that, after that weekend there was no doubt in my mind he was the best athlete in the world. His self-belief was brilliant."
The eldest of four children, his father was a RAF engineer born in Kenya whose family were originally from the Portuguese colony of Goa in India, while his mother was a South African of Caribbean descent.
His early memories are of living in Singapore riding a tricycle and seeing alligators. By the time he was eight, he was living in Calne in Wiltshire after his father was transferred to RAF Wroughton.
After leaving school at 16 ("I didn't pass any exams - I had chickenpox when I was due to take them"), he gained a PE diploma at Chippenham Technical College and followed his father into the RAF as a physical training instructor.
He owes a great debt to the RAF. Not only did he benefit from the services training that teaches you the value of a well-organised, disciplined existence, but in 1989-90 stationed at RAF Cosford he met Olympic athletes competing at what was then Britain's only indoor athletics track.
"I remember Linford Christie very laid back, very polite, good with a people, a little shy.
When it came to a race, he was in a world of his own - you couldn't talk to him. Steve Cram had the ability to communicate with everybody - that is why he does media work now."
In 1991, Mr De Souza left the RAF using his experience as a PT coach and trainer to provide insights into helping people and companies improve performance and realise their potential. A member of the Professional Speakers Association, he runs his own company, Global Training 4U from his Warwick office and his "profiling" successes include strong links with sport, especially cricket.
A junior cricketer as well as footballer and hockey player with Wiltshire, he played cricket for the RAF and more recently the MCC, and his two eldest sons are both county youth players.
In the summer of 2004, he was invited to spend time with the West Indies team at Edgbaston working with the tail-enders who had a poor record staying at the crease supporting master batsman Brian Lara.
He set out to change the mindset of players to increase their already low averages by a modest 10-15 per cent. Later that summer, West Indies beat England in the ICC Champions Trophy final at The Oval after their tail-enders earned an unlikely two-wicket victory.
Bernie De Souza doesn't come from the "world domination" school of motivation speakers. In his new book Your Success Is ...
Hidden In Your Daily Routine, he views the world with commendable optimism stating: "It is fair to say that 99 per cent of people are 99 per cent successful in one or more aspects of their lives". …