One shot, one opportunity. Would you seize it?

I have just stepped off the squash court after facing a very talented player and great rival. Having a rival is of course one of the easiest ways to push our level of performance and talents. There is something special about having someone whom we like to compare ourselves against. For myself I have a number of rivals all of whom I class as being very talented in one dimension or another. In many cases I use the rival as a point of reference for myself, in this case a person who I know is as competitive as me and someone who will give everything to beat me.

This allows me to look at my own fitness and skill levels as they stand today. As a indicator of the type of person I am describing I watched as this person stood at the threshold of defeat (four games to nil down with the game standing at 8-1 in my favour). I watched him take a deep breath in, talk to himself and then watched his physiology as he still believed that he would be able to come back from the precipice of defeat and win. It was wonderful to witness, self-belief at its highest.

I have also been asked if I want to have one final boxing competition against a talented boxer around June. I have already made my decision, more to follow.

The last two weeks since my return from Sri Lanka has been very busy. I have been involved in projects as far reaching as Anti-piracy, the coaching of children to negotiating large business deals. Time management has once again has become important. I am now in Dubai looking at my various roles in the Middle East and defining my areas of responsibility. Exciting times ahead that is for sure.

On Saturday I worked with a company about to launch their new brand identity. It is a powerful message they are sending to their market with a great statement of “actions speak louder” to enhance that message. What was so important was that the group have taken lots of advice about how they are perceived (however unfair) and how they want to be perceived. They have looked at their market identifying where they want to be in five years and produced something special. What was wonderful was that they as individuals and teams could also look at this moment to redefine where they wanted to be in five years. I had an energising 24hrs with the team and have no doubt, no doubt at all of their ability to succeed. The only downside to the day was that I had an opportunity to go to the Engalnd V Wales rugby match and have a wonderful night.  However a government event and this prevented me from doing so.

I have been asked to speak at numerous conferences over the coming weeks which I am looking forward to especially a two day conference in Scotland at the end of March which will be to numerous sports personnel.

My work with a footballer has been enjoyable. His attitude to his profession is exceptional and I have the expectation that he will perform at the highest levels. He has been using a number of methods to enhance his focus and visualisations. He is also going into the games with a clear plan of what he wants to acheive.

I have a fitness assessment tomorrow so that will be a great way to gauge my current level. A joint blog now follows from Richard and I.

To quote Disraeli there is no education like adversity. As Floyd affirms in his previous post adversity, is one of the best ways to learn a lesson. Hopefully to quote Floyd the adversity is not extreme but either way it allows us to learn powerful lessons out of necessity. Certainly what in my view gives great champions their humility is that their path to success is typically paved with ‘humility inducing episodes,’ or to borrow a sociological phrase from my past ‘labelled recognition of incongruity.’ The challenge although it can also be refreshing reality for both individuals and organisations is that crisis, real or constructed is a catalyst for change. ( As you’ll see later I’m recommending people relish uncertainty.) Floyd’s response: wouldn’t it be wonderful if businesses/institutions/sports learnt to change before they were forced to do so. I have been involved in a number of businesses that have spotted the need to change well in advance of the need to so. They have continued to be inventive as well as tweak their current procedures and take decisive action. I have also seen a number of businesses fail to spot the storm advancing towards them as they bury the heads into the sand and fail. As I wrote above I have just seen a company look to change before they have to and really push themselves outside their comfort zone. They are also energised and excited by the possibilities that they have now created. Comment ends.

 Here poets are more vociferous than psychologists. As one of the Roman poets once wrote ‘the greater difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skilful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests,’ Linked to the need for support from mentor discussed John Chuton Colins a literary critic of the 18 century made a great observation.

Floyds response, I love the next statement “In prosperity, our friends know us; in adversity, we know our friends.” Worth reflecting on those lines for more than an instant. How many times does the true colours of those around us come to the fore when in real adversity? I often wait until I have seen someone in the heat of battle, whether that is in the arena or workplace to make a complete judgement of someone’s capability. Training people to perform in the cauldron of pressure is crucial, I love to make training as difficult as possible so that the difference to the real thing is minimal. Comment ends. More positively though from the perspective of growth and development of potential Francis Bacon the philosopher of the real world type once said “Prosperity discovers vice, adversity discovers virtue.” There is another poet whose name I do not now remember who said, (I’m intellectually lazy today!) Adversity is the first path to truth” Now I remember It was Lord Byron. On second thoughts didn’t he also say ’if I don’t write to empty my mind. I go mad!’ That’s not the reason I’m continuing the blogs, well today at least. No I’m reflecting on action from the research as well as from the dialogue which I have both valued and enjoyed…..and has accelerated progress in helping me see, think and do things differently. I hope it has for others too. How has this happened? Letter to a Young Researcher – Letter to Young Cricketer Firstly your story of the Sri Lanka tour prompted me to reflect on John Seely Brown’s classic letter to a young researcher http://www.johnseelybrown.com/Letter.pdf from January 91 in the HBR It’s about the kind of spirit they expect in research (and these were the people who made the computer industry) There’s a couple of points he says in the note that are of relevance to any call to adventure. And yes he would be one of my first fifteen dinner party guests as a key intellectual influence on my career. ‘If you come to work here,’ he wrote in his letter to a researcher ‘ there will be no plotted path. The problems you work on will be the ones you help invent. When you embark on a project, you will have to be prepared to go in directions you couldn’t have predicted at the outset. You will be challenged to take risks and give up cherished methods or beliefs in order to find new approaches. You will encounter periods of deep uncertainty and frustration when it will seem that your efforts are leading nowhere. That’s why following your instinct is so important. Only by having deep intuitions, being able to trust them, and knowing how to run with them will you be able to keep your bearings and guide yourself through uncharted territory. The ability to do research that gets to the root is what separates merely good researchers from world-class ones. The former are reacting to a predictable future; the latter are enacting on a qualitatively new one. ‘ What’s fascinating for me in the context of attracting the best talent in the world which is what he did for the computing industry (the people there literally invented it) is how he talked in an interview about the need to create a context for courage and passion to take shape. ‘It takes courage to open up a new frontier, to do what people think is crazy, and to push the boundaries of a genre; be it in art, or research’ he emphasised,’ You need both passion and courage, because when you go out on an edge, you really don’t know if you’re just being crazy. Everybody else around you thinks that you’re just insane, figuratively not literally. Almost every major breakthrough we’ve done at PARC (Palo Alto Research Centre) initially seemed absurd. Almost everybody was against it.’ Action Point One – Letter to a Young Cricketer I wonder what a letter to a young cricketer would look like ? What would your letter to a young high potential sports star say? (or mine for that matter which I must have a crack at as well.) Action Point Two Putting Ideas from the Blog into action On to action and my second point for the post. Floyd discussed the Dinner for fifteen mentors he’s hosting . And I asked the open question whether there were ‘lost mentors’ who could help us all as individuals be more effective now and over the next years? And if there are, in a spirit of action orientation get in touch with at least one in the New Year was my suggestion. I have got back in touch with three. And more are in the offing. I’ll just tell you about one. One of the first was Keith Francis. Now Keith was a former colleague and it’s taken over twenty years for him to forgive me for exiling him on a consultancy assignment on a trip to Gorbachev’s Russia just around the time of Perestroika. He came back shocked after observing the last days of Central Planning and Communism under the guise of improving Service Engineer diagnostic and customer relations skills. Empty lorries were travelling round Moscow delivering non-existent goods. I’d sent him into a Kafkaesque nightmare. After that we went to Prague just before the Velvet revolution to run a sales training course complete with old style Video Camera’s that had to be specially signed through customs. They all thought we were journalists and it’s true the city had an air of change. I remember most of all the hotel was a hotbed of resistance to the Russians. I picked up some flipcharts and they came complete with Anti Russian slogans. Anyhow I remembered Keith was friendly with a contact in Australia got in touch and then he persuaded me to write as a quid pro quo, an article and this is how he has promoted me. ‘There is a new entry on the RM Reflections website, Relishing Uncertainty – Winning on Plant VUCA. Planet VUCA, an acronym, was coined by the US Army War College after 9/11. Like the business environment of today its atmosphere is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. To learn how best to survive and succeed in these turbulent conditions, this article draws on the author’s extensive and unique research profiling many of the world’s top sports coaches, especially rugby, and business leaders. This is not another superficial sports to business comparison, it has real depth, and is based on sound research. Even so read what some of the world’s top sports coaches and business executives have to say. http://www.rmreflections.com/ More importantly he has circulated this to over 500 of his contacts. What a great result. I do like your advice about ‘how it is important to introduce others to talented people’ and’ never be afraid to ask for help’ We should review that in due course over the year. And I’m going to ramp it up. You never know the impact it might have!

Floyds response: it is nice to come back to the key brand statement above. “actions speak louder”. The opportunities to succeed in life are all around us. We are constantly given openings to learn more or indeed be more successful. Do our actions speak loudly as we seize these opportunities? “Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment Would you capture it? Or just let it slip”? Em

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