Hard to know which makes you more joyous – the glorious weather, or Our Brave Lads’ progress in the World Cup (not to mention the rescue of the Wild Boars in Thailand) – but it’s not all that easy to get any Business Lessons from the weather (apart from Carpe Diem), and no doubt this august organ will return to the cave rescue at some future date, so let’s concentrate instead on the footy.
Much has (rightly) been written about the inspirational leadership and quiet confidence of Mr Gareth Southgate (and about his natty dress sense) – but there’s been rather less publicity about someone else who’s made a massive contribution to the team’s success (as Mr S himself is the first to acknowledge) – the team’s psychologist, Dr Pippa Grange.
The FA has employed a psychologist before (or rather, a psychiatrist — Prof Steve Peters (he of The Chimp Paradox)), for the 2014 World Cup – though a crucial difference was that the Prof offered the players help if they thought they needed it – Ms G’s approach (with Mr S’s approval) is to involve all the players, willy nilly.
Dr G (who is a Yorkshirewoman – hurrah) was appointed in November last year, specifically to improve the resilience of the players – and resilience is probably the most underrated attribute in sport, as in business (and life).
There are lots of nuggets to be found in Dr G’s views – here’s a few to be going on with (if you want to read further, here’s a link to a recent article by Ms Emine Saner in the Grauniad) –
1) don’t shy away from nerves – they’re something to be welcomed – but try reframing the concept. When Mr Dele Alli was asked if he was nervous about the semi final, he answered “excited, not nervous”. The players now look forward to taking penalties ….
2) treat your critical inner voice as “the yobbo in the stand shouting at you” – you can then answer (internally) “this doesn’t affect me”. Sometimes it helps to see your thoughts as a third person and, when they come in, choose to see them as not relevant
3) Dr G emphasises the importance of play – as when the players were encouraged to ride inflatable unicorns in the pool after the Tunisia game
4) positive thinking (as such) is not always helpful – carrying a mental picture of holding the World Cup is of limited use, compared with the importance of concentrating on the tasks necessary to win it (what Mr S calls “owning the process”) – in other words, concentrate on the things you can do something about (the inputs) rather than the results
5) praise is much more motivational than a telling off (who knew??)
6) failure is not something to be shunned (or, even worse, feared), but is to be welcomed. As Dr G says, “I’d like to turn this unhealthy preoccupation with success on its head and put it on the record that I think failure is really useful. For without failure we cannot progress longer, higher, or faster. It’s a funny paradox – our successes are achieved through trying, and trying most often ends in failure. Every day in our general lives and our sporting lives we will win some and lose some; it’s just part of the way life should be. It could be missing out on a promotion, being pipped at the line in a running race, or bombing out in an exam – it doesn’t matter – the important lesson is to learn from our failures, reassess, rethink, move forward (sometimes in a different direction), and keep those dreams and goals alive”
Dr G works with all the players, in small groups, encouraging them to share their hopes, fears, anxieties, and motivations. The whole idea is to build trust – in each other, and in the gaffer – and to change fear of failure into looking forward to an adventure.
Never catch on, will it?
No need to translate any of this into a business context ….
Moving on to other items you may have missed in this week’s news –
• England’s footy success (so far – this is written before the semi final ….) has not been universally popular, however – Mr Niall Sheehy (who is presently playing one of the survivors in the musical Titanic, at Nottingham Theatre Royal) was not impressed during the final scene of the musical – as the lifeboats were lowered from the stricken liner, there was a succession of “YESSS!!“’s from the front row of the stalls …. two female theatre-goers (described by Mr S as “the most ignorant audience members I have ever had the misfortune to perform in front of”) were following the penalty shootout in the Colombia game (despite being requested by the cast to desist)
• excellent interview on Front Row on Tuesday, with Ms Holly Hunter (who has starred in many fine movies, including two of the Ed’s favourites, The Piano and Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?). Ms H stars as Elastigirl in The Incredibles 2, which was released only a few weeks ago, but is already the highest-grossing animation film of all time ….
• …. and talking of superpowers, Spiderman may need to look to his laurels – a phenomenon first noted by Charles Darwin on the Beagle (when he observed a spider spinning a web on the rigging – 60 miles from land) has been explained by boffins, led by Dr Erica Morley (of Bristol Uni). It’s all to do with the spiders levitating using an electrical field, apparently
• John Lewis’s legendary preparedness to replace customers’ goods without quibble is not boundless, it seems – they’ve banned Mr Paul Chambers (54), of Solihull, from their stores after he turned twelve TV sets in three years (claiming that all of them were faulty)
• Ms Christie McLean, who rides Wallace the Great, has won her contest with British Dressage, who initially banned Wallace from competition, but gracefully reversed their decision a few days later. It’s not that Wallace has done anything wrong – just that he isn’t a horse, he’s a mule. Ms McL says that he’s highly intelligent, and looks like a New Forest pony …. “the only difference is his ears are pretty enormous”
• Facebook (whatever that is – Luddite Ed) has scaled new heights (?) this week, after deleting part of the Declaration of Independence as “hate speech” – the tenth section, which complains about the King “waging war against us …. he has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people”. One suspects, though, that it’s the bit about “Indian savages” which might be what Facebook’s algorithm objects to. Looking forward to them being equally sensitive to the torrent of abuse directed at female users of the site (but not holding my breath) – Cynical Ed
• Mr Brandon Presser has shared (in an article for Bloomberg) how the super-rich choose to display conspicuous consumption whilst on honeymoon, including a spare room for the dogs, flying in your favourite mineral water, carpeting your superyacht (to enable your new wife to wear her stilettos), stocking the groom’s minibar with sixteen different types of condom, and attempting (unsuccessfully, thank goodness) to buy the beach (in St Lucia). More proof (if any were needed) that in many cases the size of the bank balance is in inverse proportion to the level of good taste – Fastidious Ed
• commuting already occasions the occasional olfactory challenge, and it seems this is about to intensify – new technology (developed by Cubic, the guys who invented the Oyster card) will use “evocative smells” (the mind boggles) (together with vibrating floor tiles and coloured lights) to remind passengers to “tap out” on a card reader before reaching the exit, thus speeding up the process (no, I don’t understand it either – Ed)
• boffins at UCL are building complex microscope equipment made from a revolutionary material that is easier to use and far more readily customised than a 3D printer , and cheaper than anything else on the market …. it’s called Lego
• a new app, called WineGame, was launched this week, to put wannabe sommeliers to the test by challenging them to guess the grape, country, vintage, and region of a bottle without looking at the label. To play, the organisers recommend that you gather at least four to six bottles of different wines (sounds good (hic) – Ed) – you then get a non-player to scan the labels on their smartphone, which then offers the players five different answers for each one (didn’t they call this Call My Bluff? – Ed)
• if you’re an aficionado of the Book of Revelation (not recommended if you’re of a nervous disposition), best start preparing for the end of the world – this month (27th and 28th) will see the longest lunar eclipse of the century (an hour and 43 minutes), causing the moon “to turn to blood” (in the words of the Good Book)
• in confusing advice from boffins, drinking seven cups of coffee a day could keep you alive for longer (though maybe that’s because you won’t get any sleep?) ….
• …. and in easily the most comforting news of the week (to the Ed, at least), other boffins (from across the Pond) have found that the secret of old age is learning to forget (immortality beckons at last??) – it seems that the ability to ward off fear and unhappiness is a skill that improves significantly with age
• two doctors (of the academic variety) think that the blue stones at Stonehenge (known for some time to have been quarried in Pembrokeshire) were transported to Salisbury Plain not by sea, but by land – a sort of early M4 (and possibly quicker hem hem)
• and finally, three riffs on the problems of those of us with a Y chromosome –
1) a study by academics at the Uni of Sussex reveals that our voices give away more than we might think – hearing a man “screaming or shouting” lets us judge pretty accurately whether the screamer/shouter is taller and stronger than us – and roaring makes the roarer sound bigger (who knew??)
2) surgeons and anaesthetists have much the same power structures as apes or monkeys, according to another study. Ms Laura Jones (a medical anthropologist at Emory Uni, in Georgia) (the US one) sat quietly through the best part of 200 operations in three teaching hospitals, and found that the clinicians spent most of the time swapping gossip, chatting about the news, or discussing last night’s World Cup game – they flirt, roll their eyes, throw medical waste at bins from a distance (celebrating when it goes in) and sometimes they “dance to music or stroke each others’ thighs” (memo to self – avoid having an op in Georgia – Ed). It seems that these behaviours are similar to those displayed by our simian ancestors (though the World Cup stuff seems a bit confusing ….)
3) and research by Mr Gideon Nave (assistant Prof of marketing at the Uni of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School) shows that testosterone makes men seek out high-status brands in much the same way as it makes stags grow unwieldy antlers or peacocks drag around elaborate tail feathers (just rehearsing the “I just had to buy the Porsche, darling” conversation – Ed)
On to Columbo Corner, and yet another tale from Academe. Mr Gary Lewis, a senior lecturer in psychology at Royal Holloway, Uni of London, was fed up by being hassled by Crimson Publishers, a group of journals (amongst many) accused of taking advantage of scientists eager to be published, so he plotted an elaborate revenge. Using the nom de guerre Gerry Jay Louis (from the Institute of Interdisciplinary Political and Fecal Studies) (he meant “Faecal” – Pedantic Ed), he submitted a paper titled Testing Inter-hemispheric Social Priming Theory, which used “structural equation modelling” and found “compelling evidence that one’s political preferences are manifested in the hand used while cleansing one’s posterior”.
It included a section that explained “the politician Nigel F. ‘Arage told the research assistant to ‘bog off’”, and suggested a follow-up study – “one of our seven anonymous reviewers (Dr I P Daly) noted ‘I can’t help wondering about the wiping practices of political centrists and independents – do they alternate hands, or do they use both hands at the same time?’” …. but the paper was still published.
Initially Crimson wanted $580 to publish it – Dr Lewis replied “I can’t pay that”, so they wrote back and said “maybe $90?”, eliciting the reply “I have no money” …. Crimson were so keen that they published it for nothing….
Have a great weekend – and if you unexpectedly experience evocative smells, you’re either approaching the exit or Wallace the Great has got stage fright….
No edition on Friday (annual long weekend on the canals with the Editorial brothers) – back on 20th July.
Cheers for now
I presently run three Boards –
Dark Blue (for people who run large businesses) – one spare seat
Light Blue (for people who run large businesses) — two spare seats
White Board (for people who run fast-growing businesses) — two spare seats
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” (Thomas Edison)
“I love pizza. I want to marry it, but it would just be to eat her family at the wedding” (Mike Birbiglia)
“An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup” (H L Mencken)
‘I like everything that’s old – old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine” (Squire Hardcastle, in She Stoops To Conquer, by Oliver Goldsmith)
Snug: “Have you the lion’s part written? Pray you, if it be, give it to me, for I am slow of study” Quince: “You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring” Bottom: “Let me play the lion too ….” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act I Sc 2)
By Tom Morton – TAB Harrogate