Basics done well

I have just been thinking about basic things done well and what this actually means.  I have always believed and nothing has changed my mind that if you do basic things well in any activity be it sport, the military or any business you will succeed.  Advance skill in any arena is simply the basics done exceptionally well.

When I ask groups what are the basics an individual or indeed team has it is rare people are able to define what their basics are.  I believe there are three to five things that everyone needs to be in place to perform at their best.

I thought I would outline my own basics and what each element means to me.

  • Mind and body in harmony – My health is very important and there is no doubt that I perform at my best when I am in good shape, I eat well and my body does not have lots of aches and pains through neglect. I also work well when I have a positive frame of reference and no negative thoughts stealing my energy.  This first basic would be a priority, if this is in place I have a great start point.
  • Vision – knowing where I am going this week, month, year. Making this clear and unambiguous so that I can explain it in one minute with detail and most importantly that I actually believe it.
  • Visualisation – being able to see every element of my journey and anticipating the pressure spots. Most importantly working out solutions prior to the pressure spots and knowing how I need to perform and what support I need.
  • Practice – I practice and practice until I get good at something.
  • BALANCE – I have put this in capitals because it is so important to realize what you actually need to make you happy.  Family, friends, relationships, will be the most important things in your life. Money and man made things will not. Make sure you spend the majority of your time/thoughts in this area.

As I reflect on my basics I realize I need to work harder in one or two areas.

What are your basics I wonder????????????

Mindset of a champion – Carol Dweck


Are champions born or made?

What do you need to do to become a world class athlete or coach in your sport?

We believe that in addition to physical, technical and psychological skills your mindset towards sport is vital to your success.

What is mindset?

Mindset is a belief about your ability and where it comes from. Carol Dweck, an educational psychologist, found that the key to achieving your potential is not ability level or talent: it is your belief about ability. You either believe that abilities are natural and need to be demonstrated or that abilities are traits that can be developed.

Sport talks a lot about talent as if it is an inherited trait. That is, you are talented or you are not. Sports select athletes from a young age using their current performance as a measure of ‘talent’. This is based on the assumption that current performance is a good measure of potential. HOWEVER, this is just not true. It is VERY difficult to measure potential and to identify who will succeed. The sporting world is littered with ‘talented’ juniors who do not succeed at the senior level. Similarly, there are many world champions and Olympic medallists who won very little at junior level.

“People say I have a great talent, but in my opinion excellence has nothing to do with talent. It is about what you choose to believe and how determined you are to get there. The mind is more powerful than anything else”

Michael Phelps. 2009

Mindset is really a belief about what the sporting world calls talent and Dweck has identified two types of mindset: fixed and growth. While both mindsets are common, they have different effects on how people learn.

If you have a more fixed mindset you believe that your abilities are natural (perhaps inherited). You have a certain amount of ability and that cannot be changed. You are sporty or you are not. This belief about natural talent can be reinforced if you feel you ‘naturally’ pick up some skills easily or if you feel you lack talent because you take longer than others to learn new things.

If you have a more fixed mindset you might be nervous about learning difficult skills because failure to learn quickly suggests that you don’t have enough talent. This can be very threatening to self-confidence. If you have failed once you believe that you will fail again and this fear of failure can stop you trying.

If you have a more growth mindset you believe that abilities can be developed through learning and hard work. It can make life easier if you are physically suited to a certain sport but you still need to work hard and continue to learn to achieve your goals. With a growth mindset you see failures as learning opportunities and believe that maximising your potential requires a lot of consistent hard work.

With a growth mindset you are more likely to try new things and work hard to overcome obstacles. Failure is not seen as a lack of talent and therefore is not permanent. Rather than, “I can’t do that”, with a growth mindset you would say “I can’t do that YET”.

This belief (or mindset) then affects how you train and perform. It affects how you set goals and how you evaluate goals. It even affects how you interpret feedback from your coach. Knowing about mindset can help you to get the most out of yourself.

The table below summarises some of differences in behaviour that you might recognise in more growth or fixed mindset athletes and coaches.

Fixed Mindset

…a desire to show off talent and therefore a tendency to…

…avoid challenges

…give up easily

see effort as fruitless of worse

ignore useful negative feedback

Failure….reflects a lack of talent

Potential…is measured by current performance (e.g. PB or current skills)

Success of others…feel threatened by the success of others

May plateau early and “under achieve”

Growth Mindset

Leads to…

…a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to.embrace challenges

Setback-persist in the face of setbacks

Effort – see effort as the path to mastery

Criticism-learn from criticism

See it as a learning opportunity

Potential…cannot be measured

Success of others…find lessons and inspiration from the success of others

As a result…Reach ever higher levels of achievement

Think about what you believe and consider the following questions;

Are you sporty?

Are you musical?

Are you creative?

Are you good at maths?

For each of these questions ask: WHY or WHY NOT?

Did you mention talent, that you just naturally picked things up quickly or that it was ‘in your genes’? Or did you feel you have always focused on putting the effort in? Hopefully you are starting to think about whether your answers indicate a talent or effort focus and what this might say about your mindset.

Where does our mindset come from?

Your mindset can be influenced by your experiences. That is, your successes and your failures, your response to these, and the responses of people around you. If you are constantly told that you are talented and praised for your talent, you are likely to believe that you are talented. That is quite normal. If you are praised for being a “natural” then you will probably believe that you have an inbuilt “gift” for a particular sport. Again, this is a normal response that fits the way that most people understand talent and sporting ability. This belief about talent is more likely to lead to a more fixed mindset. The danger is that you might rely on your talent rather than building an understanding of how to improve and training hard.

If you are praised for working hard to develop your skills then you are more likely to see value in that. If you are encouraged to find a way to overcome the setbacks and failures that will help you to achieve your goal then you will see the value in working hard. This is more likely to lead to a growth mindset. You tend not to rely on talent. You have relied on hard work for your success and that is what you understand.

To help understand your beliefs about talent and ability write down the skills that are most important for elite performance in your sport. For example: decision-making, technical skills etc. Then draw a line like the one below and make a mark to show whether you think that being good at this skill is about natural talent or about effort and experience.

Decision making Natural x Effort / Experience

The mark on the line above suggests that you feel decision making is more of a natural ability than an ability that can be learnt through effort and experience. Repeat this exercise for all the key skills in your sport and then think about what experiences have shaped you to think in this way. Have you been praised for being talented or working hard? Do you think others excel at the same skills through natural talent or hard work and experience? We believe that you can get better at any skill. You might not know exactly how to get better yet but you can improve. What do your ratings suggest about your mindset in key areas of development?

How can mindset help me?

The evidence shows that your mindset is linked to what you achieve. We think that mindset explains the athletes who achieved “beyond their potential”. Potential and talent wasn’t important to them. Their goal was to improve at their sport and they continued to work out how to improve and continued to train hard and smart.

We also think that mindset can explain the talented athlete who reaches a certain point and stops improving. If things have come easily athletes often know less about the process of development or how to work hard to improve. Failure hurts their confidence and they stop trying. Having never had to work hard to learn skills can lead to giving up easily and underachieving. Can you think of people who fit into either group?

In order to explain fixed and growth mindsets it is tempting to suggest that you are one or the other. What is more likely is that there is line from growth to fixed and you move along that line depending on your experiences and the particular ability we are talking about. So, you might firmly believe that with hard work you can get better at kicking a football (growth mindset) and at the same time you might believe that you cannot learn how to ‘read a game’ (fixed mindset).

Understanding when your behaviour may be more fixed or more growth is important to help you recognise how to develop your skills more effectively. If you know why you might seek or avoid a challenge, then you can learn from the experience.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”.

– Michael Jordan

If you approach sport with a growth mindset you are likely to be focussed on being the best that you can be, training hard and learning as much as you can. You seek to learn from everyone: coaches, other athletes, different sports, and high achievers in other areas (e.g. musicians). You set your own goals and control your programme (your coach or others might help). You know that you cannot predict what you will achieve with years of dedicated and purposeful training. Your challenge is to understand where you are now and HOW you can improve.

Mindset and sport: My behaviours

Do you display growth mindset behaviours such as those mentioned above in your training and competition? We believe that there are four types of mindset behaviours that are particularly relevant in sport (remembering that your mindset can vary and you can choose to change it). The four types of behaviours are:


Do you embrace them or avoid them?


Do you persist when things go wrong or go back and focus on what you can do?


Accept and learn from it or ignore it?


I am responsible or my coach/manager is responsible?

Choose one of these types of behaviours (e.g. setbacks) and write down a time in your sport when you:


persisted in the face of a setback


gave up on something new and went back to what you were good at

Repeat this exercise for the remaining 3 areas and remember to write down a time when you showed a fixed mindset in your behaviour and when you showed a growth mindset. Hopefully this will help you to see that there are times when you are more fixed and times when you are more growth mindset.

Can mindset be changed?

Yes it can! Now that you know about fixed and growth mindsets you can challenge your beliefs to help improve your performance.

Your mindset will affect how you think and how you think will affect what you do. So, to change your mindset you will need to change how you think and importantly how this thinking is reflected in what you do. For example, your coach has asked you to learn a new skill that looks complicated.

If you have a fixed mindset you might think: “that looks complicated and if I cannot learn it quickly the coach will doubt my ability”. This thought might lead to fear and you might then avoid practicing the new skill so that the coach will not see you fail.

If you have a growth mindset you might think: “that looks complicated and I probably won’t be able to learn that quickly. But if I keep trying, and with the help of the coach I will get there”.

This thought might lead to some initial frustration as you learn (failure is not fun even with a growth mindset!) but over time you consistently practice the new skill until you master it.

Which type of behaviour do you think will help you most in the long-term? Once you can identify the types of messages YOU are sending, you can label them as fixed or growth mindset oriented. You can then challenge any fixed mindset thoughts. Remember, YOU HAVE A CHOICE about your thinking!

Using Mindset

The next section provides you with some practical activities to help you understand how you can use mindset in your daily training environment.


Set mindset goals

Set some goals around what you want to achieve. If you tend to ignore criticism your goal might be:



Outcome – Reflection

“Listen to ALL feedback (positive and negative) to find what I can learn from it”.

If you have been avoiding challenges by working on your strengths your goal might be:



Outcome – Reflection

“To work hard on an area that I might not be good at YET but that could make a difference to my performance”.

Make sure that you are really specific about the area you choose and how improvements might impact on performance (e.g. pre-shot routine, scanning the field, kicking etc). Whichever goal you choose, we recommend that you write it down and share it with your coach or mentor.


Change your behaviour

What was your goal? Write down the actions that you will need to take to reach that goal. That is, what are you going to do differently? For example,



Outcome – Reflection

Taking greater ownership of the development process

I will set a training goal for each session (technical and physical) and rate myself on that goal. When possible I will also get the coach to rate me. I will aim for the coach to rate me at one training session per fortnight.

Set a time limit for the change in behaviour, say about 6 weeks. Then at the end of the 6 weeks, decide whether the change that you made has been helpful or not and use that information to set a new goal. This is outlined in the reflection step below. Keep repeating this process indefinitely.



This is where you evaluate your progress towards your goal. Ask yourself:


What was my goal?


What did I do differently to achieve my goal?


Did it work? Why or why not?


What now? Do I need to take different actions to reach my goal, do I need a new goal, or do I need more of the same (it is working, but I am not there yet)?

For example,



Outcome – Reflection

Taking greater ownership of the development process

I will set a training goal for each session (technical and physical) and rate myself on that goal. When possible I will also get the coach to rate me. I will aim for the coach to rate me at one training session per fortnight.

I set a goal for most of my training sessions and rated myself each time I set a goal. I did not get the coach to rate me. I found that I was more focussed when I had a training goal. I will continue to set goals and talk to my coach to see if they will rate my performance on agreed goals.

This is a continual process. If you need some help with choosing the changes to make in your behaviour and in evaluating your progress, speak to your coach or someone who knows you and your sport well.


Reading list

We have included below some books which are easy to read and will help to give you more information and get you thinking about talent:


Mindset by Carol Dweck


Bounce by Matthew Syed


The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle


Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin


Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

The Magic of Mentors

The year 2011 has begun with preparation for a trip abroad with an international sports team, coaching with a number of people that want to start the year with a bang and with my desire to start with a clear plan of action.

When I begin each six month block of time I always look at the following elements.

  • I State a purpose in a form that I can actually see it accomplished.
  • Think of every single reason why I want to achieve this result.
  • Visualise achieving the result. Making the “pictures” as vivid as I can.
  • List the specific, immediate, high impact actions that i will take (within the next 28 days).
  • List what support I need, from whom, in order to keep me on track.

I do this so that I can judge myself against a set of objective criteria; I make the plan testing but realistic and achievable.  I always give myself a time frame in which to operate to keep myself focussed.

If the purpose is well thought through I will not need to change this during the six months that I have set myself as a target nor will the visualisation element or the reason why this is important to me change either. The only thing that will change is the action that I need to take after each 28 day period and possibly the support that I need to continue with achieving the plan.

I like to do this because it gives me focus. I also ensure that I am balanced in other areas of my life to give me the stability that I need to concentrate and not be distracted.  The areas I score myself on (1-10) are health, family, friends, finance, diet, hobbies, technical, tactical, mental toughness, personal development.  I imagine each element is the spoke of a wheel and I judge how long the spoke is against my score. If it is a ten then the spoke will be the correct length, if it is less than 10 the spokes length becomes shorter. A score of one is very short. Once I have completed my score, I imagine a wheel around the spokes and I judge how well the wheel spins.  If I am out of balance and a number of occasions during 2010 I was out of balance I can adjust the time that I need to spend in each area to correct a fault and give me greater stability.

It is rare we that will have all areas of our life in balance especially if we really want to push our potential. There are however a few key areas that are vital if we intend to be out of balance for a long period of time.  One of the key areas for me is my desire to ensure that I am healthy (diet) and in good shape physically. There are others that are important but each of us will have unique elements that we need to be in place (basic components that if in place allow us to perform at a high level of ability).

The next element is that of support and I think your own individual review of the points below will emphasise why having support is always crucial to how we move forward in life.

The Magic of Mentors – continuing Richard Cross’s guest blog on What it takes to be a Champion

Pushing the boundaries of one’s potential is not an individual affair. Sometimes it needs to be unleashed, occasionally it needs to be reined in, and at times people need to be challenged, at others supported.  What I have discovered from the research is that the quality (not quantity) of an individual’s mentors can make all the difference in accelerating people’s progress, opening doors and ensuring their life pattern does not resemble Sisyphus who as soon as he has pushed the boulder up  to the top has to start again. (Sadly I’ve seen a number of those types in the research)  It is true we have to make our own mistakes but great mentors can mitigate them. Whereas the 10,000 hours rule is more concerned with efficiency, mentors can radically transform effectiveness and the arena and possibility of playing in the field of dreams. They are underrated though often in corporate contexts overhyped. Floyd’s Response, I learnt early on in my career to look at the key things that make a person/organisation stand out (the difference that makes a difference). In my experience there are one, two or three skills/things a person does to make them stand out.  The rest of their skill set is usually the same as everyone else’s.  By spending a little time finding out these key differences can save you years of learning.  It is also called modelling (Modelling involves transferring what an expert thinks they know and what they unconsciously know. It involves being able to produce the outcome and transferring the behaviour to others).  My mentors exhibited certain behaviours/skills that I needed, the better I became at modelling the best methods the quicker I took on new skills and developed. Comment ends

Looking at the data  I am starting to sense different patterns of  World Champion progress as well as a continuum from the My Way self-made route to the With a  Lot of help from my mentors  approach. Simple as it may seem and a touch of the obvious but those who push the boundaries to World Champion level often but not always have mentors with character and gravitas. Others don’t (and that can be because one of their parents was a champion in the sport!). Same applies in big corporates too.

So when I asked many who just hadn’t quite made the grade who their mentors are or were a blank stare and pregnant pause said it all.  When I interviewed those on the dark side early mentors were missing. I remember one who identified his problems dating to inspiration from Jim Morrison! It explained his sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle but boy was he paying for it. The best on the other hand to borrow a phrase from Richard Olivier have ‘a stable of mentors’.  And when they start to discuss them you just knew they had enormous advantages over their competitors as they reel off with alacrity a Who’s Who in their field.

As for you own first fifteen (you are going to invite for dinner.) Mentors you mentioned pre-Christmas  Floyd  just like a rugby team I would imagine your mentors come in all shapes and sizes and perform different roles. Here’s some analysis of the archetypal mentors I’m sensing and their impact. In fact what I have learned is that many in sports do not realise the value of either their networks or mentors. If I was advising athletes who were competing in 2012 I’d be focussing on this both for their sports career as well as when they think it’s all over and retire. Sure the Gold medallists are made. They are in the club, but others equally talented are not. Floyds response, my mentors not only came in different shapes and sizes but also ages and gender including some below the age of 12. In the case of one young person they said something so profound it has been a power statement I still use to this day. Response ends.

Out of interest do any of your 15  fall into the following  categories or have similar qualities/impacts?

Front Row – someone who believes

‘Bob Wilson had four and a half years in the wilderness zone before he secured his Arsenal first team place. At times he despaired he would make it. Alf Fields, a winner of the British Empire Medal for bravery on in Italy during the Second World War and on the coaching staff never lost belief in Bob. Alf used to continually remind him of his ability saying ‘you’ll make it. You’ve got something that’s different. I’ve hardly ever seen anyone plunge at people’s feet like you. Keep believing.’ On the occasion Bob was dropped to the thirds and had an open ‘twenty-four carat’ row with Billy Wright his manager. Alf had a decisive impact on Bob.  On the way out of the ground, prepared to give up and take a teaching job , Alf took Bob aside and sat him on a bench in the Marble hall and encouraged to him to stay saying’ I’ve never seen a goalie do what you do. You can walk out on this club but it’ll not be the same anywhere else. Playing for Arsenal’s third team is better than most first teams. You aimed for the best, this is the best.’  The comments struck home. There and then Bob resolved to prove his manager wrong. As Bob says, ‘it turned my career around, really.’ Nobody would have known Bob Wilson except a few Loughborough students if I’d taken that teaching job.’ In the broadcasting world David Coleman was a key mentor. As Bob says ‘he believed in me.’ Floyd’s response, to have someone who believes in you, who trusts you is so important that it give you an edge when you may be thinking of stopping/quitting.  A simple statement to enhance your confidence is so powerful that it can stay with you for the rest of your life.  I have often been helped with someone who believed in me and gave me the support I needed at crucial times. Comment ends


Mentor as Magician- synchronicity at play

‘She had become the new singing teacher at the school I went to her and she…. Talk about people who encourage you throughout your early years. I think there are those key moments aren’t there, those pivotal moments in time when you recognise or someone else recognises or you recognise together that you have a talent that needs to be nurtured. And you know supported and built on that is exactly what she did.  She made me recognise that it was a talent that needed to be developed. And so that was at about14 years of age, 15 years I studied with her and the voice just developed in a classical style, no other style. It just seemed to kind of come out that way and that’s when I realised that I wanted to do this more seriously, professionally. ‘

Mr Chips or Ms Jean Brodie

‘The Headmaster had suggested we become Post Office Telegraph boys. Instead with two classmates we expressed a desire to study Economics. The Geography teacher decided to take a risk and teach us by taking a course in Economics herself. She was always one class ahead of us. A Miss Jean Brodie type character, she was terribly influential on us and we kept in touch with her. She died a few years ago demented. I remember visiting her for the last time in her nursing home. Up till then she was very, very proud of us and had followed our careers closely. She was a Miss Jean Brodie character and she just made all the difference.’ Floyd’s response, I can remember being told that I would not get into the Parachute Regiment at 18 or the SAS at 22, nor would I gain a degree. It was such an impactful moment that this person ceased to have a part to play in my life. “You can only raise someone to the level of your expectation”. I often hear parents make bold statements about their children’s capabilities sometimes detrimentally. This can prevent children from striving for their dreams. Ensure that you do not find reasons why someone can’t do something but encourage them to find the skills to succeed.  Comment ends

The Credible Connector

’He knew it all; his parents had been revolutionaries who had fought with Lenin and Trotsky. They had been out revolutionised because they were in the middle. He always had this saying go to East Europe.’ He urged the MD to go to East Europe because it was the opportunity, a soft market. Our MD listened to him and sent me to run Eastern Europe.’. He started introducing me in those countries. He made new acquaintances with ease because of his background and language ability. He was highly accepted. He started me off; he worked for me then later. He made it easier for me.  It was already open up for me. Yes that’s the truth of the matter. I was one step ahead in terms of contacts through him.’ Floyd’s Response, it is so important to introduce others to talented people.  I know so many people that are willing to give others advice, assistance and training on their journey.  I often think if only I had been given this advice or skill when I was younger. Comment ends.

The Voice of Experience & Scars of Success

‘When you have young skiers, it is still the school of hard knocks, you can try to tell them, but they have to learn it in their own way. There are two young skiers who we’re not putting them in speed events, where their brashness, enthusiasm and ability to carry speed will put them beyond their abilities and they’ll get hurt. We keep them away from that so that when they start they will have the physical capacity and smarts to cope with going really fast. We want to preserve that raw edge. We had a World Junior champion skier who on the final training run blasted his knees and lost two seasons. In terms of trying to second guess about keeping athletes healthy in some respects you can get too cute – some you push, some need a governor.’

The Second Row  – reliable and opinion shifting

‘The good thing about having xxxxx was because he had been at xxxxxx and was Captain of a Rugby Club; he had a wealth of intelligence, and sensible intelligence. He had perspective, he could see patterns.  He’d use these expressions; let’s get the bedrock and the clichés they used in rugby and his previous company. He  thought about the business rationally, said let’s be number one for, that’s goodness, that’s bedrock, everything will follow how are we going to do that, what do we need to look like when we get there. OK let’s have this as the goal and he did one or two things that completely made this business successful.  He spent quite a lot of time let’s analyse the business , look at what the salesmen are really good and why they are doing that’s better than the competitors, let’s try and replicate that. So when we said hothousing let’s sell, rather than train al the sales force, let’s take one person and train him through all the training courses and then him visit all the accounts and see how they get on., let’s analyse all the feedback. That’s what he was really good at.

Why was he a good adviser? He’s physically big, a former second row, a powerful person and he wasn’t doing it from any egotistical perspective. He was just saying let’s look at your business and try and make it better.  It’ s respect,, at the end of the day you meet  a lot of people in industry some are smart, some not some liars, some boring and dullards, I tend to judge people by energy.  Are you a drain or radiator?’

The  Kick Off- a catalyst for the journey

‘After my first real success Sid said you can be very, very, very, good. I said OK if I can be that good, can you help. It was the first time anybody had put faith in me apart from my father. Sid’s passion was to get young people  involved in cycling and take it to what level they wanted to.  After the start period it wasn’t about racing it was about enjoying. When he died – he crashed on his bike – he said he wanted a cycle procession. Three thousand cyclists turned up. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it but he was a big influence on my career. I have a rule now never be afraid to ask for help……… I used to go to the gym. The national track coach was there. He’d seen me about. He got chatting to me and was quite charismatic. He said you are not making the most of your talents and I said you show me. He said he could get me on the national team. He coached me for seven months and I progressed. He knew hand on heart his limitations. He knew he had to let me go, whereas I have seen other coaches dine out on the success of their cyclists. I appreciate what he did, I respect   him. ‘ Floyd’s response, I have never been afraid to ask for help, time is precious and if someone can give me the answer and any assistance why would I not ask for it. It is why I try to have many friends who have different talents, who are more capable than me and who can help me when I need it. Comment ends.

The Bigger Picture Adviser

‘I was ready to buy an office, had done all the surveys and was about to sign. He called me up and told me not to take that risk. – He had been meeting some Chief Economists of the banks.    Everything was ready to go and had to pull out. If I hadn’t I would be here, we wouldn’t have made it. Another time we hit a cash crisis. The banks were putting me under real pressure; I was mortgaged up to the hilt. I phoned him up the business is really struggling I need another £100k he was short and to the point, bit of a cash flow crisis, help you grow up, goodbye. But I didn’t feel like the weakest link. And it helped me realise I could cope and would never get into that position again.’ Floyds Response, Mentors are also challenging and don’t just make it easy for you. Their role is also to develop you to stand on your own two feet. Comment ends.

Mentor Acquisition and Development

Based on my research and your Dining Out Fifteen Floyd you’ve made me consider how this could be turned into a development exercise for some of your cricketers off to Sri Lanka. Whether they know it or not they are brands. It’s a fancy expression denigrated by one of the participants on the Apprentice.  Whatever you are going to call it it’s a good description. They must ask who am I?  What do I stand for? They must ensure their brand does not become tarnished. They have to understand they are the brand; they must look after it.

As an icon told me, ‘for some it’s innate but you have to keep your brand polished to make progress in life. ‘If you keep it polished, if you understand it and keep the right strides you’re always going to be a success in life. If you play for England, climb a mountain or are a soccer player it’s with you forever. You can make speeches about it or develop speeches about it. It’s worth money providing you look after it.’

And to do that it’s helpful to reflect on our first fifteen. The great thing about mentors too is you can find them yourself as well as come across them accidentally through structured serendipity.

The questions Floyd your extraordinary dinner poses for me are

Who is your first fifteen (or eleven) of mentors for today? Is it the right calibre?

What does your first fifteen for tomorrow need to look like?

What do you offer them and how do you gain their trust?

How can they help you?

There’s another one too which perhaps is more fundamental.

Are there some mentors you have lost track of who could help you be more effective now and over the next years?

And if there are get in touch with at least one one in the New Year. I know I will.

Richard Cross