Adventures, autonomy, success and sport science 101

sent by Nick Grantham | 18th May 2021

"If experiences lead to happiness and happiness leads to success, then experiences lead to success."

James Wallam

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Success (you decide what that means for you) comes from experiences, and in James Wallam's book, Time and How to Spend It, he suggests we can figure out what adventures bring us joy and success. Working in high-performance sport is not without its challenges. It's not for everyone. In recent years, it seems to have become popular to batter it at every given chance: low wages, harsh working conditions, long hours, lack of opportunities etc. But I want to be the person that sticks up for performance sport. I'm not blinded to the facts, but I know that I've been happiest and most successful when working in high-performance sports. You don't have to take my word for it. My wife will tell you the same thing. When I left the English Institute of Sport, I spent about 18-months away from sport in any actual shape or form. I was busy setting up a company and spent most of my time working with the general population. I was making money. I was working hard. I was getting to spend time with my family. I was enjoying myself. But then an opportunity to work as a consultant in performance sport came up. I went away for the first training camp, and when I returned home, my wife said, "you're so happy, this is how you used to be, you love working in sport". The lightbulb went on, and it has been burning brightly ever since. One person's poison is another's medicine. I love working in sport. The experiences it affords me make me happy, and I'm way more successful when I'm happy. What adventures will lead you to success?

Source: Time and How to Spend It by James Wallam

"Don't tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results."

Phil Knight

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It doesn't matter if you're a coach, parent, teacher, or head of department; this quote from the legendary founder of Nike, Phil Knight, in his book, Shoe Dog, is well worth remembering. All too often, managers, parents and coaches try to micromanage absolutely everything. It's bloody tiring for everyone. When every aspect of a project or task is managed for you,  there's little opportunity to learn and develop. So the next time you want something doing, tell them what you want them to do, sell the big picture, the vision and then get out of their way and let them figure out the best approach to achieving the goal. They will learn a lot along the way, and you'll probably be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Source: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

"The best way to keep doing enough of the right things is to keep doing lots of things. Even if some of those things end up being flops, you'll be building up your experience, building relationships, building confidence, opening up opportunities, keeping life fresh and learning your craft. So long as enough of them are good enough, you will be allowed to keep going."

Michael Caine

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Famous authors, self-help gurus and scientists tell us to cut down, focus, don't take on multiple projects.  But what if doing many different things could be an effective way to build up experience, establish networks and learn our craft? I think there are times in our lives when biting off more than we can chew, spinning plates and generally trying to balance a lot of different things is what will ultimately lead to success. Whilst it's probably not a sustainable long term approach, I believe there are times when pushing hard on multiple fronts is a good idea. Working as a consultant taught me the importance of developing multiple income streams from diverse but connected projects. Some of them were flops, and some were far more successful than I had anticipated. But they all offered up learning opportunities and helped me to become a better coach. As Michael Caine says, "so long as enough of them are good enough, you will be allowed to keep going", and I have!

Source: Blowing The Bloody Doors Off by Michael Caine

"Humble in our aspirations - Gracious in our success - Resilient in our failures"

Ryan Holiday

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I think this should be the first thing taught to all undergraduate sport science students as they embark on a journey toward a career in performance sport. By all means, have high hopes for what you want to achieve, but make sure your eyes are wide open, and you don't think you're going to stroll into a job working with the world's elite at your first attempt. When you do experience success, don't rush to be in the selfie! Remember that if you want to shout from the rooftops about success, you should also be prepared to celebrate the monumental failures and defeats as well because there will be plenty along the way! Speaking of which, how you deal with those failures will shape your career. Learn to deal with them and move on; they're rarely actually the end of the world.

Source: Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

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