My book uses football as an analogy for personal development. With the World Cup looming, which sets my heart racing just thinking about it, I thought I’d share a chapter with you.
This is taken from chapter 8 of my book – The Beautiful Inner Game
If you are a Norwich or Ipswich fan, you will remember quite vividly and with a smile, the time Delia Smith made an emotional plea to the crowd at Norwich city’s home ground, when the team were performing badly (I do remember those days most fondly!).
She cried out ‘Where Are You?’ to what is known in football as the 12th man – the fans, knowing the importance of cheering the team and creating an atmosphere of encouragement.
Over the 25 years I’ve been attending the matches at Portman Road, I’ve witnessed the impact of having the crowd in fine voice and also of seeing the confidence of players drop right in front of my eyes, when the home fans become agitated or reprehensive. There are many who say that the footballers are paid more than enough to be able to sweep all that aside, but they’re human and having negative comments or jeers thrown at you whilst you’re trying to concentrate, is not exactly helpful. And yet, they’re expected to take it and play their best football, which they often do in spite of criticism – not because of it.
So what has this got to do with you? Well let me ask you this. Who gains from your successes, and how do you connect with the wider world?
Social media with sites like twitter, facebook, blogging etc mean we have a much bigger audience than ever before and the wider our contribution to society, the more responsibility we have to act with integrity, warmth, compassion and understanding. This doesn’t mean we have to be a saint 24/7 – just that we need to acknowledge what we do has an affect on other people, as well as ourselves.
All of us need to listen to feedback without getting defensive and I am well aware of the many ways in which people (including myself) show subtle signs of defensiveness, rather than gratitude for a constructive insight. Do you do any of the following?
- Wanting the last word?
- Justifying everything and so waffle on endlessly about the ‘why’?
- Blaming or attacking, as best form of defence?
- Agreeing, just to shut someone up?
- Not listening and even walking away?
- Sulking and holding a grudge?
- Denying altogether?
- Purposely pretending you don’t understand what the problem is?
If you are really brave, you could ask the people you love to give you some honest, caring feedback on how you could make the changes you need, to reach your full potential, and then listen without saying a single word. Try it and see!
When we finally accept that happiness and peace comes from something within, rather than searching outside of ourselves, the more we can become other people’s 12th man.
The truly confident and grateful will spend time being compassionate and boosting other’s self esteem, whilst those, that have yet to finish this journey, will be too busy searching in the wrong place and blaming everything else, to ever be a Champion of Champions.
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