One of my coachees went into a school recently for a placement and was told not to expect too much from the pupils, a statement guaranteed to make my blood boil. It matches a lot of stuff written in the media recently about people, particularly teachers, infecting children with low expectations.
Now before I go any further, I am not teacher-bashing - they do a great job generally, and often are fighting a losing battle against parental influence. They just happen to be some of the key players in the fight to inspire our young people and so are more in the public eye. And some of those noticeable teachers are not brilliant, much the same as any profession.The difference I feel with teachers and other adults being sub-standard and expecting too little is that the children that they impact then grow up with a pre-determined route to failure which leads to a lack of risk-taking, an unwillingness to push themselves and a confirmation of their fixed mindsets.Whilst no-one wants to be a loser, there are good ways of dealing with it. You don't have to be sore, grumpy and despondent. In fact, being able to accept failure
, develop through learning from it and then move on to ultimate success is surely one of the requirements for growing to greatness. The oft-quoted example is Thomas Edison; he of the thousands of unsuccessful lightbulb attempts.Now let's be realistic for a minute. No-one likes failure and it usually costs something, either time or money, sometimes more than we think we can afford
. We very rarely set out to achieve failure, despite the benefits that it confers. Surely though, we have a duty to our children (if not those we conceive, at least those of our society), to teach them about learning from failure.; not to be surprised by it but to learn and grow through it if and when it does occur. That can only happen though alongside giving them an expectation of possible future success.I use the word 'possible' quite deliberately here because I think it is also very easy for the pendulum to swing too far in the opposite direction. If we are not careful, we can leave people, especially children, with completely unrealistic expectations of
unremitting achievements and reaching the stars. Okay, as they say if you reach for the stars you'll at least get to the moon but it could be setting people up for an even more negative reaction when they eventually taste defeat of some sort. So we need some realism about the goals we set but it needs to be tempered with inspiration and excitement.
Jim Collins talks about big hairy audacious goals and these are much more motivating than and empowering than being instantly constrained by the R of Realistic in a SMART goal. Lets start by deciding to follow our dreams and then work out how to make sure they are realistic. And lets do the same for our children as we inspire them to achieve more than they currently see as possible. Some suggestions you might need to consider for your dreams to become reality might include:
And if you should fail on the first attempt, get back up, learn, grow and push onwards.
- Enlist help - a mentor, coach or friend might provide the extra knowledge, skill or motivation that you need
- Change the timescale - what might not be possible in a year may more easily become a reality in two years
- Identify the right conditions - what needs to be in place and where will you find it.
- Set sub goals - this allows you to track progress which increases the chance for celebrations and thereby motivates you even more
- Identify changes required - what do you need to change about yourself, either in who you are or what you do, in order to achieve success?
Liz McColgan, Olympic medallist and world champion athlete, reckons that the Olympic legacy is already lost. The slogan was 'inspire a generation' and I believe that we have done that. People young and old are re-considering what is possible, not just in sport but in other areas of their lives. However, McColgan believes that we have missed the boat in terms of getting more people participating because of a lack of preparation. In an article in the Times written shortly after the Olympics, she describes a situation where more than 100 enthusiastic youngsters turned up at an athletics club who were wholly unprepared and under-staffed. She said "I think we are probably going to let down an awful lot of kids who are so enthused from the success we had." This thinking was then backed up for me by a letter
yesterday, also in the Times, describing a boy who wanted to take part in gymnastics but there are no clubs in his town catering for males. The town is not small, provincial or rural. However, it is the home town of one of the members of the men's gymnastics team. You would expect that this boy might not be the only one hoping to emulate his heroes. Will your local area be better able to provide for others like him than Wolverhampton seem to be? Is there funding available? Has planning taken place? Now of course the flip side to this argument maybe hinges on the number of available vounteers
. So what are you doing to help the legacy of the games survive? The games-makers are one of the big stories to have emerged and many of them talk about volunteering again - in fact I heard of someone already talking about signing up to play a similar role at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Where do you put your volunteer hours in? Who does it benefit? How will it add to the legacy you leave behind you and the mark you make on this world?For more on the topic, read my articles on leaving a legacy
Steven Covey says:
“There are certain things that are fundamental to human fulfillment. The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase; to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy. The need to live is our physical need for such things as food, clothing, shelter, economical well-being, health. The need to love is our social need to relate to other people, to belong, to love and be loved. The need to learn is our mental need to develop and grow. And the need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution.”
Do you agree - is leaving a legacy an essential need for human fulfillment?
Apparently Mario Balotelli, the Italian striker, doesn't think he should celebrate goals when he scores. He tends to strut in a seemingly arrogant, posturing way but otherwise shows little emotion. The story goes that before the game against Germany in the semi-finals of Euro2012 he was asked why he doesn't seem happier. His tweeted response is supposed to have said,
"When I score, I don't celebrate because I'm only doing my job. When a postman delivers letters, does he celebrate?" He presumably sees football as just turning up to do what he is paid for.It got me thinking about less superstar-like individuals like you and I and how we react in our day jobs but also
if and how we celebrate achieving our goals. So firstly at work, do you expect to do well every day when you go to work? If not, what gets in the way? But assuming you do expect success at some level on a daily basis, how do you recognise it
? Some people need others to be constantly telling them how well they have done but how much better to be able to see it for ourselves, to be able to look at what we have done and be satisfied because we know we did it well. Not adequately but well. Maybe it doesn't require a bottle of champagne at 5 o'clock every day but some small passing nod to ourselves is good to keep us happy. Are you doing things very well, seeing it and congratulating yourself? If not, you want to change something.What about when you achieve your goals, whether they are big
or small - what celebrations have you got planned? Maybe once you have finally finished all the renovation and decorating in that new house you'll throw a party. Or maybe it will be as simple as sitting on your sofa surveying your wok with a large drink. When you achieve your target weight, I'm guessing you won't go out for a slap-up meal but what will you do instead? Having a celebration planned already is one of the motivating factors that helps us achieve our goals. For me, when I achieve my health goal, I am going to plan a holiday to reward myself. And for the work goal that I have set, on completion I will buy a nice bottle of whisky to savour.What about you? As you look at the goals you have set yourself for the next year or two (I assume you have already decided what you want to get from life in that time - if not, see me immediately!) how will you celebrate when you reach them? And what about tomorrow when you complete your work and feel good - how will you acknowledge that?
And finally the football is over - a big sigh of relief for all those non-sporting types amongst you. But if you watched the final match last night you will no doubt agree that it was another success to savour. People (Spain) being brilliant at their day jobs; playing passes, shutting out the main Italian threat, scoring goals. As a neutral I would have been happy for either of them to lift the trophy but to watch (Saint) Iker Casillas lift his third major trophy in four years to make this Spanish team arguably the best team in the world ever was quite special. People called Spain boring. They ignored that. Two of their top players (Villa and Puyol) were unavailable
. They reshuffled and played without a recognised striker for most of the game and a 'makeshift' defence. Journalists claimed they would lack hunger. Spanish players may have won most things recently but they obviously still want more. They are the best and want to stay the best. And judging by Torres' kids playing in goal at the end, have long term ambitions for that!Spain set their sights on an amazing goal and achieved it. Sometimes they were not so flamboyant, but last night they were scintillating. Regardless of what other people said, they went and did the work and reaped the reward
s of that. Is that how you operate too or do you get put off by the criticisms (open or implied) of other people? Do you let those around you deflect you from your chosen path?
If so, read my latest article
to get you started on copying Spanish footballers. We can all choose to be constrained by other people or assert ourselves and achieve the goa
So the game is finally over for England and we can all go back to being more neutral watchers of the tournament (unless you now plan to switch your supportive allegiances to the Scottish boy on the smaller grass of SW19).
I must confess to not being that interested as a neutral in the early rounds of the tournament when it is group stages. People like to win but there is little emotion involved. Contrast that on the other hand to Ronaldo's outpouring when he scored the winner or the Italians when they scored the final penalty. In the knockout phase, a win is met with greater delight which is evident to all and there is something infectious about this kind of happiness. Sometimes in the storms of life or weather, we need to surround ourselves with things that make us smile, even if it is just inwardly: the surprised shriek of shoppers on Buchanan Street as the thunder cracked above them, waking up to a sunny day, a small child laughing with their friends, an ex-Liverpool player scoring (Xabi Alonso). What works for you?
Of course the disadvantage of watching the football is the losers being interviewed. Stevie G was absolutely gutted at the end of the game. Having played really well and been captain during the tournament will mean nothing to him compared to his team going out on penalties. However these memories are short-lived if we choose them to be so and remember the positives instead. If you google pictures of Gerrard, the majority of him in an England shirt show him smiling and happy - we can replace one image with another. If you are struggling with this then a good coach can help you overlay the negative with the positive image using straightforward NLP techniques.
This is not to say though that we should ignore the storms - in fact they often have something to teach us and the experiences improve who we are. As the quote in the newsletter suggested, we should make the most of where we are and learn to dance in the rain.
So what have you seen around you today that makes you smile? What will you hold on to to help you dance in the rain?
Last year I remember putting up a comment about Tom Pellereau winning The Apprentice because everyone was surprised that a nice guy could win. He is a man with values that he sticks to and that made him stand out.
This year, I watched it religiously once more - observing people working hard and achieving success matches my ideals in life and so it is compelling viewing for me. The thing that struck me about the winner this time round though was all about learning.
At the start of the series, much was made of him sharing a name with Ricky Martin the singer and being a flamboyant wrestler in his spare time. He came across as a bit brash and quite unlikeable. In fact, when he was on You're Hired, Denise Van Outen even said it to his face. However, she did clarify that things had changed as the series went on. I too found myself more drawn to him as others were eliminated. Something was emerging, butterfly-like from the cocoon.
If you watch the final
again - only available in UK until this Friday - you will see him interviewed and hear some of the statements that he made when he first applied and it is easy to see how embarrassed he is at having them read out. He learned through the course of the series that this was not the way to get ahead; he adapted his behaviour and I don't think it was just in order to win. Talking to Dara O Briain, he came across as a man transformed.
For me learning is a key value in life - if we keep on learning and improving then we expand what is possible. We know more and can achieve more. Every day can be a school day - there are countless opportunities around us to question what is there, to mine people for the knowledge that they have, to discover new things.
Eleanor Roosevelt apparently said, "Do one thing every day that scares you" and you can imagine how much you would learn about yourself and what else is possible if you truly subscribed to this philosophy.
If I asked you today, "What have you learnt?" and you can't answer, then go out and change that. Learn something. Develop yourself. Make yourself more.
As I was videoing some of the sailing at the Toberonochy Traditional Boat Muster I started thinking about how constrained sailing boats were, having to work with (or sometimes against) the wind and the tide. I've put together some of the clips along with my thoughts about constraints on the water.
Fabrice Muamba is showing small signs of recovery. This is brilliant news. Maybe its even more proof that prayer works. I have been interested to note the number of folks who I would not previously have labelled religious in any way, who have been coming out and saying that they are praying for him. Or they are exhorting us to join them in praying for him.
Don't get me wrong, I think its great when people pray. And I also think its super that people have surprised me by saying they are praying. A lot of hard-nosed footballers who I would have expected not to believe in a god are now wearing t-shorts saying Pray 4 Muamba. Brilliant.
Do they really believe that prayer works? Are they seriously expecting people to get to their knees? Who are they wanting us pray to? I find it strange sometimes that people proclaim loudly that God doesn't exist when things are going well but yet instinctively resort to prayer when the chips are down. Remember how full the US churches were in the immediate aftermath of 9/11?
I'd like to think that if prayer is an important part of our makeup then we will pray all the time. If its not then why do we do it at all? Are we guilty of borrowing other people's values when it suits us because our own don't fit the current situation? Does it lead us to question our own values and possibly change them after the event?
Maybe people simply have never stopped to consider what is really important to them and it is only times like these that make them look at their own lives. Bill Shankly was quoted as saying that football was not a matter of life and death, it was more important. Powerful rhetoric that falls apart during events like Sunday. When it comes to actual life or death, everything else pales into insignificance and we do well to remember that more often.
So yes, please continue to pray for Fabrice Muamba. And anyone else you know that needs help, comfort or healing. Not to mention the people of Syria and other strife-blasted regions. And after you pray, take five minutes to consider what is really important in your own life. Then live it with this at the front of your mind. Always.
Sportsmen and women, like leaders need to be competent at what they do if they want to have an effect on the world around them; their competition or their organisation.If they are not capable of the technical requirements of their job then they won't last long. Compare someone like Jessica Ennis who today is competing in the World Indoors pentathlon and setting records. She is obviously very good at what she does. Likewise, we want to be proficient at what we do, whether it is for a job or for leisure, so we can develop and grow.
That's not all there is to it though. In sport and in life, we need to be people of good character if we want to cope with the power that comes with being competent. Steven Naismith and Steven Whittaker of Ranger FC have been in the news today because they are willing to take a 75% cut in their wages. Contrary to popular belief, top footballers are not motivated to play by huge sums of money. These two, and by the sound of it most of the other playing staff, are keen to see their team survive and succeed again and their loyalty has over-ruled their bank manager. Too often recently we have witnessed footballers being dishonest, unprofessional, petulant or downright illegal in the way they have conducted themselves. Politicians have made the news for similar reasons. How heartening it is then to hear of these Rangers players leading the way in a good sense.
Lets have more of that, in the news and in our own lives.