Books are to the mind what exercise is to the body. Approximately 4-5 years ago I began to go through a massive paradigm shift, my wife calls it a mid-life crisis! I call it an awakening, I came to a realisation that I was the master of my destiny, a destiny which at that time had no clear pathway, no plan and little to no understanding how one achieves what many call enlightenment. Since then the one thing that has allowed me to grow is knowledge, Reading is now for me my sense of direction. A good friend of mine helped me and opened up a whole world of possibilities when he introduced me to audible. Since then audible and I, are constant companions, the ability to now listen to books instead of reading has allowed me more time to acquire new found wisdom. Today there is not a day that goes by where I don’t tune in to audible. Devouring books has allowed me to become more aware of many things in my life that were not directly apparent to me prior. I guess to a certain extent I have learned much about myself. I still have a long way to go, there are many aspects of the self that requires constant improvement. Today dealing with daily anxiety and stress is still a battle not just for me but I think many people in society battle with the daily grind, one thing is certain after the events of the past 5 years I do not think I would have made it through unscathed were it not for the time I spent applying my mind to listening to other people’s wisdom and experiences.
My main book and the one I have read over and over is the 7 habits by Steven Covey. Today I understand that I am a constant work in progress nowhere near the intellectual and spiritual being that perhaps I have the capacity to become, however, there are so many aspects of my life that have changed and directly influenced by this book. Another favourite which got me through some hard times was “untethered soul” by Michael Singer. Here I learned that we have this constant voice in our heads which never stops unless you learn to control it, it’s this voice that creates many of life’s problems. The voice is only ever concerned about the past or the future it never focuses on the now which brings me to another favourite, “The power of now” by Eckhart Tolle it was this book that suggested that we are spiritual beings inside a material body, that we need to become more self-observant. I have delved into so many different topics from diet and nutrition to self-help to social psychology, autobiographies, finance and many others. I have learned and begun to use words never uttered in the past on the daily, I find myself discussing my books via conversations, team talks. I apply the knowledge through my conversations so that I myself can remember what I read. Remembering the content is hard for me, I’ve read 7 habits almost 10 times over and I still find things in the book that are relevant to everyday living. 

One of the words I came across which completely allowed me to understand how people think is perception, what we perceive is a product of our life’s experiences and environment. This is so apparent when it comes to a sport like football. Every nation has its own individual style of play so the way a nation plays its football can be influenced by these environmental issues, the weather, the language, the economic factors and a multitude of other influences which shapes the way the game is played. Even a single individual can shape the way the game evolves and in the last 8 years, no one has revolutionised the game more than Pep Guardiola. The onset of technology has allowed virtually everyone who has an interest in the sport to gain access to his work as a manager and how he has shaped the way teams now play. I remember reading a blog from Gianluca Vialli when he was at Chelsea which he said that the reason why Italian teams are more tactical than English teams was that of the wind. Both countries experience relatively similar temperatures throughout the year but in the UK the wind makes everything worse. In Italy, it is normal for a coach to do stop-start tactical coaching for an hour at a time with players standing still listening to the coach but in the UK if you do that in the middle of winter players will freeze to death. Perhaps not the only reason why football is played differently but most likely another one of those environmental factors that shape the way things work. 

Perception is generally the cause of all conflict, how we see things. We do not see the world as it is we see the world as we see ourselves, meaning we look at things with filters. The filters are our experiences, our traditions and our subsequent cultures that are created from the information which comes to us via the 5 senses. The 7 habits, is not just a book, its a manual for living a life based on principles. I do not want to offend anyone but for me, the 7 habits is a clear representation of religious scriptures without the need for parables, stories or specific individuals or deities as the focal point. The focal point of all of our behaviours and decision should be embedded in principles. These principles are what Steve Covey explains should be at your centre. Some people are self-centred others are work centred, career-centred or family centred etc. When you are principle-centred all your actions and decisions are based on these principles. principles are rules or laws that are permanent, unchanging, and universal in nature. They differ from values, values are internal and subjective, and they may change over time. A criminal gang can have values but if your values are centred on principles then your behaviour is influenced by these universal laws. One of the best lessons I learned early on was from Robert Kiyosaki who wrote the Rich Dad Poor Dad series of books. He said and I quote “There are three sides to every coin (Heads, Tails, and The Edge). Your ability to understand contrasting points of view and your ability to glean what information you believe to be valuable from each side is a crucial skill. Perception is the process by which people translate sensory impressions into a coherent and unified view of the world around them.

I recently watched a TED talk where a researcher and historian Rutger Bregman describes why people that are poor are perceived to be less intelligent or tend to make poor decisions. Once again I argue the point that it is the environment, through our experiences that create our views and beliefs. When we give our kids the tools, the opportunities and most importantly the example for a long healthy life we not only help our children to grow up safe and happy but we empower ourselves to do likewise. We must however first learn to remove the filters that have been engrained into our perceived notions. There is so much irony in society, irony which I was a part off and most likely am still a part of. The only way to see the apples from the pears is to begin to question everything we know, see and hear.  You may be wondering why a football coach is discussing social psychology? Well, it is my belief that part of my job is to help parents, in some ways I believe helping the parents will directly influence what happens to the child, their attitude at training, their motivation and desires, the quality of the experience they are going to have, the quality of the child’s health and nutritional needs. 

We the coach can influence the environment during training for a few hours every week. In many cases, I know that we have influenced many families to have a rethink on nutrition for their kids. We have influenced sideline behaviour which has made the experience for kids more enjoyable. The key to a successful football program incorporates the parents into the process for it is the parents that have the greatest influence on their children’s foundations. Books are the key to you and your children’s prosperity. My advice should you wish to take it is to introduce reading to your kids as soon as possible, make it an ingrained habit, many people make excuses, I don’t have time, I’m not a good reader. Then be a good listener, listen while you drive every trip is an opportunity to fill your mind with information that can help you. Habit 1, be proactive, is perhaps the most important of all the habits, habit 1 teaches us to be the masters of our own destiny. 

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. Viktor E. Frankl”

By | 2018-09-18T12:02:32+10:00 August 20th, 2018|Education, Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

I'm a former professional footballer, part-time blogger, football fanatic, sporting director of Foundation Football. Father of two brilliant musicians, ideas man, inventor, a drone pilot, handy with a lightsaber and lifelong partner to my soul mate. My views and opinions are my own and you're all entitled to them.

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