Why do so many coaches and ex-players, and even ones on the injured list, sometimes wish the team they coached or played for doesn’t do as well now as when they were involved? Worried that the team gets better once you’ve left, or the coach or player that’s replaced you is more influential and successful? This attitude transcends all sports and you see the same in business.
It’s pretty common, and I’m not ashamed to say it’s crossed my mind before. Why? A lack of self-confidence perhaps? A feeling that somehow your self-worth is directly connected to it all? I’ve lost count of the coaches and players that have tried to hide this feeling, but it is all too obvious in their actions and deeds.
The problem with ego
When it comes down to it, ego is the core of the problem. You might think you aren’t driven by it, but ego rears its self-serving head and reminds you it still can control and affect you. I find all this fascinating as I’ve felt it first hand.
You publicly say you want the team you used to coach, or played for, to do well, and you honestly believe this. Suddenly you’re watching them and it’s down to the last few minutes or seconds. Those thoughts in your head bubble up and, for some reason, you hope they lose, that they don’t replicate the successes you felt you had. It makes no logical sense but makes all the sense when ego is involved.
I’m in a situation now that I want Fiji to do well. I want them to win. I truly do. Anyone that saw me at the Dubai 7s screaming like a mad man at the team, and castigating the referee for any decision that didn’t go the team’s way, would have seen that. It wasn’t an act.
There are, however, the small noises in your head and they say stuff like:
“What if they win more things than under me?”
“Everyone says Fiji have apparently the best players so the next coach after Ben will do just as well. Coaching Fiji is easy.”
When you look at it from afar, it’s all ridiculous to feel like this, and I don’t feel like this at all now. It’s taken me time to be aware of my feelings, work out where they are coming from, and then finally deal with them.
I left England 7s under difficult circumstances. Imagine a scenario, one I am sure happens far too often, where you’re given an ultimatum by someone that you either resign and get a pay off, or you must reapply for your job. This message to you is quietly slipped under the proverbial rug as you sign a non disclosure agreement. The press release comes out saying you have resigned.
I was sore how my departure from England 7s happened and I felt let down and unfairly treated. This did lead me to being resentful, and I think if my time coaching Fiji hadn’t happened then this feeling would have only festered and made things worse. Luckily for me, the Islands came calling and changed me forever.
There is a Greek word called ‘euthymia‘. I know this because I had a bottle of red wine once that was called something close to this, so I googled it and up came this;
Euthymia – a Greek word means ‘the sense of our own path and how we should stay on it without getting distracted’.
It’s not about being better than the next man or the next team, it’s about being as good as you possibly can be.
The devil on your shoulder
You probably will have missed seeing this unless you had a very keen eye over the last few years, but we actually used a little trigger in training and matches with Fiji that is a good analogy for this. We used to talk about the little devil on your shoulder that appears sometimes when the going gets tough. It might be a really hard session when you want to take your foot off the gas, or a long passage of play when you feel like having a few more seconds on the floor after a tackle rather than get up and get back into the action. The boys would just flick off that imaginary devil on their shoulder to trigger positive thinking.
It’s a bit like that with your ego. When you have those selfish thoughts I’m talking about, you need to have that trigger to give you that self-awareness and push your ego aside.
The best version of yourself
As I constantly say, being the best version of yourself is what matters. That’s what helps give you contentment as well as a clear and uncluttered vision. It’s about how you can improve and be better, rather than take pot shots at others. About how you should feel proud watching an old team, or business, doing well, knowing that you were part of the foundations for that success. Leaving your team in a better place and being proud of what they are now achieving without you. Of course the opposite can also occur, and you can leave an organisation in a far worse state if you opt for short-sighted vision over long-term and legacy. More to come on this in a future blog.