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Monday, 20 December 2010


Sport can be painful.  The athletes who ‘take the pain’ will testament to that - Vinnie Jones on Gazza, any of Mike Tyson’s victims, broken limbs from the ‘taking part’ - it can be brutal.
Off pitch, in the back office - things get just as sore.  We might not show our bruises as much or need the Doc to stitch us up - but behind the scenes - it sure does hurt when our plans do not come to fruition.  It can sting when everything that was within your grasp works perfectly - but someone does something just a little bit better.  Luck or “unluck” can be a real sucker punch whilst constraints (financial / asset / mental or physical) can strangle the life out of even the most determined of sports operators.
You certainly have to be able to ‘roll with the punches’ working in sports.  
Well - there is a solution that can ease the pain.  It is one that does not get mentioned as much as perhaps it should.
A simple smile is perhaps the best result that any individual can strive for on a regular basis - safe in the knowledge that success is 100% possible all the time every time.  Having fun is not a crime, having fun should be compulsory.

Confused???  Surely simply looking to enjoy what you do goes against the sports mantras of the greats from history.  “Winning is not the only thing, it is everything” etc.  Vince Lombardi, Bill Shankly - they are famous for it.  And for sure - winning is a lot of fun.
But if you enjoy what you do (and what you do could be extra sessions in the pouring  rain with a fitness coach screaming at you, or working stupid long hours because you know that you need to get the Web Marketing report done by Thursday) - then no matter the result - you will be happy.
Let me explain a bit more.
The current trend is for sports clubs to work harder and harder to get everything abosultely 100% nailed on right.  The mantra goes - “We control our own destiny.  If we do everything right, we will determine the outcome”.  That’s a fine sentiment, and I have no qualms with looking to do the right thing at all times (though there are a few issues with how teams can approach this - see later Blog on “Aggregation vs Maximisation”).
However - what happens if one ‘perfectly prepared team” comes up another “perfectly prepared team”.  It could happen.  Else some one is not doing their job properly!!  The eternal question - Irresistible Force against Immovable object.  Except in sport - either the force fizzles out or the object gets moved - as someone has to lose (except for cricket of course my confused American friends).
And if there is no thought given to what might make the experience enjoyable - then what have the losers got out of it.  If however - your Club is set up to be one that delivers enjoyment to all that are associated with it - well then, as the colloquail saying goes - “Happy Days!!”
......I can sense some naysayers at the back of the class - so let me expand on this theory.
“It’s not the taking part that counts, it’s all about winning” - only true winners know this of course - because they are the only ones who have done everything right......???
......of course not.
Some of the most talented performers - through no fault of their own - will have not received the same accolades as others who have cleaned up through sheer luck, through the work of others, etc.  Think George Best never playing in the World Cup.  Think the Premier League - where 20 teams are all striving to do the best that they can - but 15/16 know that no matter what - 4/5 teams have more money, more political clout, more everything.  
You can be the best coach in the world - but if Jose’s PR keeps getting the best gig and Sir Alex never retires - and if the Club you work for has no cash - then how will you ever prove it.  Back office staff can make diamonds out of coal all day long - but if the coal runs out......  
So having a smile / making sure you enjoy your work is something to really bear in mind when you look at what needs to be done.  All your staff can undertake their jobs knowing that fulfillment will be achieved.
Satisfied now???
OK - one final nail in the “Fun is for losers” coffin.
If you set out to enjoy what you do - it will come more readily.  That’s got to be human nature.  Anyone disagreeing with that - well you are in the wrong classroom.
So - we all agree that enjoyment is a goal - it’s just that how to get that enjoyment might cause some debate amongst the bleachers.  Well - if the only way you are going to get your enjoyment is by winning every damn thing - well so be it - away you go.  But at least let’s have the discussion and agree that this is what we need to do.
It should not stop you from seeing a smile as a result worth fighting for.
So - when you get ready to lead.  When you are thinking about your staff (or even your own work life).  When you are setting agendas and when you are busting your balls to get the result - just make sure that you remember to take time to enjoy what you do.
Life will be a lot more fun (as will winning).

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