The world’s highest performing women | Lisa Steingold

What I learnt from the world’s highest performing women

Lisa Steingold blog
Here's what I learnt from the world's top performing women.

In 2021 I spent the year looking for work, writing a book and cycling up a storm.

It felt like rejection after rejection, mountain after mountain. So I decided to start a podcast and interview the world’s highest-performing women because I wanted to know their secrets. 

Was life and success about luck? About persistence? About skill? 

Turns out it was all of that and more. 

I learnt alot from women like; 

  • Faranak became her country’s highest-performing female cyclist even though in her country women in sport is not permitted in general.
  • Sarah overcame depression to get back on the saddle, in life and her bicycle
  • Chanelle was rejected over and over for work before she went on to become the Marketing Director of Scuderia Ferrari South Africa
  • Jenni Green despite her history with Lyme Disease left a super successful career in South Africa to start Bia Cycling in the UK 

All the women (by the way you can listen to all the episodes here or on Spotify) have these 3 things in common; persistence, resilience and the ability to take action even when the odds are against them.

5 Lessons from the world’s top performing women

1. Forget the last corner

A while ago I listened to one of the top female voices in motorbiking talking about one of the biggest mistakes rookies (aka beginners like me) make on a motorbike. 

“When you make a mistake, learn from it but focus on the road ahead!” She said.

She said that often when new female motorbikers take a corner badly, they take that corner with them into the next. In other words, they keep thinking about how badly they took the corner, and what an idiot they are…and and and. 

As a result, they take the next corner badly too! 

I could totally see myself in that picture! I struggle with closed curves. And then when I take it badly I get in a half panic, half huff. I get super angry with myself and let my emotions take over. 

What inevitably happens is then I take the next corner badly too. 

It’s the same with other things in my life. I’m so focused on what I did badly in the past that I set myself up to fail in the future.

But you know what? Bad corners are part of life. 

So you f’d up your last interview, job, relationship, project, article, training program… whatever. 

You probably know what went wrong but instead of focusing on that, focus on the next move and the steps you need to take to get it better.

In my case, I need to enter my left-hand corners a little more on the right and brake ever so slightly so that the bike comes out in the right trajectory. If I focus on that I’m good. 

This is different to thinking don’t f it up. 

It’s more important to focus on the steps to make it right than what you did wrong or what not to do wrong. 

You’re here in the present, not the past. The more you focus on the past, the more you recreate the same future and bring it with you.

2. THIS is the moment you’ve been looking for

This point follows a similar trajectory from the last point. 

THIS moment right now is the moment. Do what you need to do right now. Don’t focus on all the million things you need to do. 

It’s super difficult for me but it does work when applied. When I think of my yearly objectives at work, I want to run and hide to some sunny island and never come back. 

Then I remember that I’m working to take holidays on sunny islands and that I need to focus 😎.

What is it I need to do right now? 

I keep my brain calm but putting down all the steps of the year into one big project plan but then I just focus on one day at a time. 

Whether you’re wanting to change your body, complete a massive project or compete in sport, you can apply the same principles. 

Have the big picture plan written down somewhere but then focus on one day at a time, one step at a time, one meal at a time, one move at a time. 

You’ve got this!

3. EVERYONE suffers

I remember the first time I listened to Ariane and she was telling me about the level of suffering she underwent at the Swiss and Cape Epics.

I couldn’t believe it. Call me naive. I knew that top athletes push themselves in competition but I thought all the training made it easier. 

And it does but there’s never been a truer saying than

Quote for Lisa Steingold blog

I don’t care who you’re following on Instagram but every human has their struggle even if they never tell you about it. 

Everyone suffers.

So you do you boo!

You’re on your own journey. Doesn’t matter if you haven’t reached your goals. Your journey is different to anyone else’s so focus on you. 

Rest when you need to. Push when you need to. 

Will you suffer? Yes because when you push outside of your comfort zone, it often feels challenging but you can do it. 

Keep skilling up. Keep learning. Keep pushing. 

And remember.

“Mistakes are proof you’re trying”

4. TOTAL accountability

Something that all the women I spoke to had in common was the ability to take accountability. 

What do I mean by this? 

Even when the odds were stacked against them, and things were not going according to plan, they introspected to take the next move. 

This is what I call accountability. 

We don’t have control often of the factors around us and often even not of the injuries and illnesses that can befall us as humans, but we still get to make choices. 

Taking accountability means asking yourself hard questions. Being brutally honest with yourself. 

My dear friend Barney always reminds me to ask myself this when I’m really struggling with life;

  • What am I not seeing?
  • What’s the lesson in this?

Another question I always add to the mix is whether I want to quit.

Lisa, do you want to quit working? Do you want to quit cycling? Do you want to quit motorbiking? 

When I ask myself this and I answer “No, I don’t want to quit” I instantly feel more empowered. Like I’ve chosen. 

And there’s no shame in quitting. I’ve quit (or rather exited) relationships, jobs and situations where I couldn’t see a way forward but it was always at the point where I’d believed I’d done everything I could. 

Taking accountability will make you proud of yourself. It will make you do some hard yards but it’ll be totally worth it! 

5. Support each other

  • Did I pay the women I interviewed to be on my show? No. 
  • Did they have the time to be on my show? Also no.

Yet they did it anyway. 

Why? Because in some small way, we each want to give back to the world.

I motivated my reason for wanting to interview my guests saying that I wanted to support women’s cycling and women in sport. And it was true! 

After the very first women’s Paris-Roubaix I was so shocked at the difference in prize money that the podcast was my way of making a difference. I wanted to showcase the women behind the sport, share their stories and motivate more women to get active and also to make more empowered choices in their lives. 

Each of my guests wanted the same. 

Very often we see only rivals, competition, and the need to survive. 

But supporting each other is how we grow. 

I have no doubt, man or woman, if you’re reading this you already do the same so keep up the great work!


It’s funny because before I interviewed all these women I had some floaty image of what it meant to be a professional athlete. You get to train to your heart’s content, you get to sleep and travel, you don’t have to work… but that couldn’t be further from the truth!

Every single one of the women I interviewed had to work hard. Vera Looser, had me flabbergasted when she told me the story of how as one of Europe’s top mountain bikers and with a host of victories to her name, she still had to work to fund her racing. 

It’s often easy to look around and to think you’re the only one struggling. Especially on Instagram

But know this if you’re struggling;

You’ve totally got this! 

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