I have talked about fear many times before. Fear is a way of controlling people. The question we need to ask is why do we want to control people? The stock answer is usually that control is a means of getting them to do what you want them to do. While this might be desirable in many contexts it creates many problems and unintended consequences. My view is that this this fear driven approach produces compliant people. Again, many will see this as a positive aspect but it has clear limits. If you play with fear (and I see it more and more) then you are too scared to see what is going on around you. You therefore cede control to others (coaches/parents/teachers).
As people and coaches who are controllers, we fear the ‘rebel’ and what they can do. By definition, producing compliance is our goal. Subsequently, compliance produces average. Therefore, no risk takers, no rebels, no players that we would consider ‘dangerous’.
Lets look back with rose tinted specs at the non-conformists. Jimmy Johnstone , Jim Baxter, George Best, Gazza, Cantona, Maradona and even Cruyff would be considered mavericks at the very top of the game. It was always said these guys couldn’t be coached. I am not so sure, but we would all agree that they were real ‘street footballers’ So my hero can put it better than I can:
So how do we address this today? How do we create these ‘free spirits’ in the modern context? Here are some of my thoughts and actions. Firstly, let’s stop telling and start asking. Let’s stop talking about winning and start talking about enjoyment (love) of the game. Let them do their thing? Let them work out the solutions for themselves.
LET THEM FLY!
When I am coaching, I am genuinely trying to help them but often think I am hindering them. Maybe I should just shut up and let them work it out for themselves. I have this inner dialogue of a dichotomy going on continuously.
Personally, my problem is that I have been conditioned over many years to be compliant. I know I am, but have this urge not to inflict my own mistaken reality upon this upcoming generation. They need to do it their way and not mine. They need to make their own choices even if they are the wrong ones. This is hard to say but they need to rebel against the system they are currently in. They now, more than ever, need to find their own voice on and off the park.
I am going to apologise here because I know I am holding some back. It’s not intentional and I am trying to address this and do the right thing but I know I have still some way to go. I read a lot and try to apply the learning. The theory is clear and the actions are starting to gather momentum and genuinely want to try and do my bit to help and improve the situation. However, I have a lot of deep seated values and principles which I demonstrate in my behaviours.
I consider these my top 5. There are no doubt many more. So are these holding me back? Or are they helping me? I am not sure yet but what I know is that these are mine. The problem is that I will try and project them on others when they need to find their own and express them in their own behaviours. So my task is not to look at my own but work out how I pull out my players own personal values? How do I assist them in developing their own strengths? It needs to be about them and not me. This is the cycle I am trying to break.
I am fighting to change because I know it will help others. My inspiration again comes from Marcus Aurelius:
“Your principles cannot be extinguished unless you snuff out the thoughts that feed them, for it’s continually in your power to reignite new ones…It’s possible to start living again! See things anew as you once did – that is how to restart life”
As the song by Sting goes ‘If you love someone, set them free’