“Ambition is funny thing. You can completely screw yourself with it, if you’re not careful.”
Simon Le Bon
“It’s because I like to win”.
So said the smart, ambitious CEO to me during a private session. He was replying to something I’d said… something along the lines of:
“Why do you need to win every conversation?”
“Who doesn’t like to win?”, I also said, “But the way you’re behaving, you’re setting yourself up to lose in the long term.”
Because this CEO wasn’t letting any of his lieutenants ‘win’ when it came to conversations or opinions. As a result, he had created an echo chamber without realising it, where people only agreed with whatever opinion he had because they were afraid of antagonising their leader.
Everything is possible. Definitely in my case, I can say that what I’ve been through in my career, in my life, this journey has been terrific so far. I’ve achieved some things that a lot of people thought it would be not possible for me to achieve.”
– Novak Djokovic, after winning the French Tennis Open in June 2021
This time of year is always rich with sporting inspiration and the weekend just gone was full of inspiring and dramatic moments.
But one that really caught my attention was the fantastic come-back by the world number one Novak Djokovic, who fought back from two sets to love down to win a 19th grand slam title, becoming the first man in the Open era to win each of the majors at least twice.
“But what if it’s the wrong decision? What then?”
These words I heard recently from someone, but to be fair, it’s an all too common phrase I’ve heard over the years – including from myself.
Ultimately the person I was chatting with had a an underlying fear of making a mistake. But the real mistake was allowing themselves to be stuck in limbo – and the resulting impact on their energy, mood and focus was very significant.
“Enjoyment is an incredible energiser
to the human spirit.”
– John C.Maxwell
I remember as a teenager, being berated the manager of my local soccer team for smiling and joking while playing a match against our closest rivals – even though I was playing well.
Until he said it I wasn’t aware that I was smiling but I was aware that I was enjoying the game. That changed though, immediately after his comment and so too did my performance. And I rarely ever allowed myself to smile after that while playing sport!
“I believed for a long time that I could play at this level again. I didn’t see why I couldn’t.”
– Phil Mickelson
Even if you’re not a fan of golf, you’d have to be inspired by the win of Phil Mickelson yesterday, who at the age of 50, and 3 weeks shy of his 51st birthday, became the oldest ever winner of a Major – the elite competition level of golfers worldwide.
It could be a Roger Bannister moment for the sport. If you recall, he was the first person to break the 4 minute mile. But in the years that followed, many others followed his example. Why? Because the ‘belief’ that it was impossible had been smashed.
“You need to get out of your own way Shane”.
These were the words from a mentor of mine many years ago when I was struggling with severe depression. At the time I thought they just didn’t understand me or my situation. But my God with hindsight, were they right.
At the time, I wasn’t fully aware of the extent to which my inner world was blocking my progress in and enjoyment of life. My inner voice had turned toxic and had completed a coup on the leadership of my inner organisation and the culture inside me was suffering intensely as a result.
The talented Irish journalist David Walsh had a great turn of phrase in his paper, The Sunday Times yesterday.
He was writing about the Manchester United player Paul Pogba, who he suggested that his time ha come to move on – for himself and club.
Too often, he wrote, does the player play in a way that is ‘present but not engaged.’
What a super and profound turn of phrase.
And it perfectly sums up one of the biggest challenges for people and organisations everywhere right now.
If you’re on my mailing list a while you’ll know that I’ve written a couple of stage plays and while people have been very complimentary on them, they don’t see the ‘inner wrestling’ that was part of the journey to creating them.
Creating those plays taught me a lot about myself.
The most recent one, The Waiting Room, was an idea in my mind for 7 years before I started writing it. The truth is I kept telling myself a lie for too long which held me back from starting.
It wasn’t until I was talking with one of my mentors that I realised something – I was procrastinating, waiting for the ‘perfect time’ to start. I had fallen into the ‘mental trap’ that I often help my clients get out of…. getting stuck in the ‘what’s the path to make this happen?’. And this creates indecision.
The only decision to make… is the decision to begin.
I’ve started taking a slight interest in gardening recently and I am finding it surprisingly therapeutic and ‘grounding’. (words I never thought I would ever write or say…)
It was triggered by a problem that had emerged when myself and TLJ* had put down new grass in an area of our garden. Surprisingly for Ireland, there has been very little rain over the last month (that issue has been solved as of today as it’s pouring outside!) and that, combined with a lot of sun in this area of the garden meant that the grass was dying.
So we took to regularly watering this area and the grass is recovering, bringing with it a lovely green sheen and vibrancy.
If you’re a fan of sport you will have heard all about the saga of the ‘Super League’ but even if you’re not, you most likely will have heard about it as it made headlines globally for all of last week.
In essence, 12 of the biggest soccer teams in Europe made it public that they were creating a new league that they would control, could never be relegated from and would depart the premier competition in Europe, The Champions League.
Within 2 days of that announcement it was dead in the water.