I found myself walking past a bookshop the other day. I thought I‘d better go in before it shut down. My old book-shop routine kicked in…cookery books first and then science and technology, then the Penguins. I decide to read every Penguin novel ever written starting now and then tell myself not to be so stupid. Then I look at all the Dummies guides and get overwhelmed by what I don’t know and think I’d like to. Then I wander aimlessly and that’s when I picked up “My Decade in the Premier League” by English Football star Wayne Rooney.
His decade in the premier league pretty much coincides with my passing interest in the game and I found myself drawn in. I have been telling myself for some time that I need to read more “accessible” stuff and just chill a bit more. I then convince myself that paying too much for this book (cf Amazon) by buying it right now is an act of altruism towards bookshops but really it’s just my need for instant gratification. Hey, I’m worth it.
Mr Rooney is no genius as defined by whoever defined the word but as he will earn this week around twice what I will earn this year I am sure he’s OK with his non-genius status.
I read the book in two evenings and I really enjoyed it. As always, there is something to learn and here it is:
I Know What I Want
Wayne knows what he wants. It is simply this: he wants to win. He gets an off-the-scale visceral pleasure from winning. Further, he feels what is almost pain at losing. The buzz he gets from winning a trophy or the league has a drug-like effect on him. How he feels about winning is not a normal response. It is so pleasing to him that it drives everything else he does.
It’s about the team and the team’s success. He says that Ronaldo wants to be the best footballer in the world. Wayne realises this is different to what he wants. His desire is less individualistic. He actually is a team player.
This makes it worth asking “What really floats my boat? Does someone pay me for it? Could they?”
I Love It, Love It, Love It
He loves playing football. I mean obsessively. Since before he can remember. When he made his first start for Everton ten years ago he was 16. (16!) He scored the winner at home against Arsenal. (16!) He walked home and played football in the street outside his house until it was dark.
His manager has been quoted as saying that he’d play every day if he had the opportunity.
This is great for him because a lot of football players and other sportspeople tire of their sport. It becomes boring. They are trapped in and endless round of training, travel and playing.
Now I’m not going to suggest that you turn what you love into a career because that’s trite but I suggest you ask “How can I do what I do in a way that makes me love it more.” That’s a better question.
I Am Your Equal
The potato-headed football genius is not in awe of anyone. This is not arrogance or hubris. He simply doesn’t think that way. This is good for him. Because reverence, too much respect and wonderment for others does not lead to a top performance. They lead to self-doubt and then fear and then you’re knackered.
I’ve heard many a losing football manager say “we showed them too much respect.” It’s easy to do and fatal.
It’s worth asking yourself “Am I in awe of someone?” If you are, I suggest you get close to the person and find out how they got to be so good. Ask them to mentor you. You will find out that there was a path or a process they followed and they hit some potholes on the way. There was no divine intervention. The awe will fade and you will have a roadmap. A double win!
I Forgive Me
Wayne’s done some dumb things. He forgives himself. But not too readily. That would be a cop-out. He just doesn’t dwell. He extracts a lesson, pauses and moves on. The past is gone. Just like that. This is also good for him. Continuing to beat yourself up can only lead to fear of failure next time around which leads to hesitant action and garbage results.
Maybe the question is “What lessons can I learn from the dumb things I’ve done.” Write them down as part of the expulsion process and forgive yourself.
I Have Strengths
Allied to the “I Forgive Me” thing is the “I Have Strengths” thing. It goes like this…I have strengths and they are very good. I have some weaknesses but they are not so major that they will overshadow my strengths. Therefore I will focus on my strengths rather than try to fix my weaknesses and when an occasional weakness rears its ugly head I will cringe but then learn a lesson and move on (looping back to “I Forgive Me.”)
Wayne scored first on Saturday. A header from 3 yards straight into the net. Keeper didn’t stand a chance. Sadly the keeper he beat was his own. It was inexplicable. Rather than becoming disconnected from the game, I imagine he used some of the skills noted above to score two more in the right goal this time and play his part in a 4-2 win.