Last night I was sat – along with most of the English population – watching the World Cup game between England and Columbia. It was an ugly game with some very nasty tactics from Columbia and a gargantuan effort not to rise to the provocation by the England team. We weren’t without fault but overall I thought we handled it okay.
But what struck me about the whole situation was how calm the England Manager, Gareth Southgate looked throughout. He was completed focussed and in the moment.
After the nail-biting penalties and (long overdue) victory for England, the players were interviewed and each had the same thing to say. We knew the game was ours. We knew we had to just stay in the moment. We knew we had to own it.
The thing is – England have had a very patchy few years when it comes to football. Disappointment seems to follow them around like an annoying smell. To have overcome all of the pressure that this collective disappointment creates is nothing short of a miracle.
So how does this have any relevance to an Empowerment Coach who doesn’t much care for football?
I’ll tell you. Achievement in the face of a mountain of doubt. Being focussed on the present moment and not allowing all of that history to cloud that focus. That’s what.
As a coach, I could not think of a better example of the power of positive mental attitude and focus on the moment you are in. Honestly, as each player walked up to the penalty spot, there was the potential for them to buckle under the weight of all those years of being beaten on penalties. But they didn’t buckle. They didn’t think about all of the penalties that had been missed. They didn’t carry with them the weight of failure and disappointment that exists around the team from the past.
Total focus on the present moment. They – in their own words – owned it.
Gareth Southgate has been pretty open about the fact that he has invested as much time on the players mindsets as he has on their technical ability. And what a difference it has made!
I firmly believe that if you want to be successful you need to have laser-sharp focus. You have to set aside all of the doubts that may surround you (from others or your own negative self talk). And you need to be prepared to give everything you have the what you are doing in every single moment.
If you allow the failures in your past or the doubts or potential disappointment of others to hold you back, you’ll get nowhere. You must decide what it is you want and go for it.
You’ll need to be clear on why you want that specific goal. Understanding why something is important provides unlimited motivation to push you forwards (I imagine the joy of an entire nation is a fairly good motivator!).
You also need to make the time and space to work on what you want. The smallest amount of time given over to your goal each day will soon add up to sizeable progress.
Finally, you need to look at how you talk to yourself. If those England players had entered Extra Time and Penalties with the belief that they could not succeed, the likelihood is that they wouldn’t have.
England face their next challenge on Saturday against Sweden and I’ll be there, in front of the TV. Imagine me driving my husband crazy with my persistent chatter, demonstrating a distinct lack of understanding! But I’ll be there watching for that belief. Looking for the determination.
We may make it no further than the Quarter Finals and there will be those who say that the team were foolish to believe they could go any further.
But I will look at that team with the upmost respect. No matter how far they go, I will admire their belief in themselves, their determination and their overall mindset. I am pretty damned sure that without those things, they would not have made it beyond the group stage.
And as for those of us that don’t play football for our country, there is much we can learn from those that currently do.
Decide what you want. Pursue it without hesitation. Push aside all doubt and do your very best. No one could ask for more.
And if you have a goal in mind and want to sharpen your mindset and be on point to succeed – check out our amazing online coaching course for just £39 (limited period only).