In the world of football, the term talent is constantly thrown about. In most cases, it is used by people who may not fully comprehend what the word talent actually means, its what they call the iceberg effect. This is when you only see the outcome and not the mountain of work that has been hidden from sight, what we call the process. It is easier for society to believe that talent exists, it allows us to conjure up great excuses as to why we are not able to succeed in any particular field. The word talent, however, can be a powerful tool in itself. What it does to you depends on your mindset, someone with a fixed mindset may take the compliment the wrong way as if they no longer need to work hard because they are born with this ability.
“A spark ignited on a fixed mindset will surely be diminished at the first sign of failure”
We quite often experience a stage in our lives when the lift-off moment occurs, something someone says to you, something you see or experience brings you to the realisation that this is the particular thing you want to become, your purpose. Those with a growth mindset will embrace failure and understand that it is through failure and disappointment that one grows and learns from one’s mistakes.
There are many examples of this theory. For me, it was when I was cut from the state squad at 12 or 13 years of age. I had a growth mindset due to my personality which evolved throughout my childhood and it was because of this that I did not sit back and act as if I was a victim, It only served to drive my ambition even further simply because it was something I wanted, it was my dream and I was awake realising it. From that moment on every waking moment, I was thinking, dreaming (a vision of my future) and practising. My skills were not innate I wasn’t born to play football. I did however really love the ball and the game but at that age I became obsessed.
My personality shaped by my lived experience helped me achieve my goals. I spent hours and hours juggling quite often losing count into the thousands, I began experimenting and competing with myself to juggle using each part of my body in sequential order from left to right, what the kids today call the Christmas tree. I spent hours keeping the ball off the wall and going for my records. I went down the oval and started dribbling from one end of the pitch to the other feinting, sprinting, cutting back and then starting all over again. I got my dog to chase me all oval the park! My circumstances helped shape and nurture that work ethic. I lived a long way from my school at a time where there were no after school “activities” we just played unsupervised on the streets, this in itself was a key factor, if there was a tree to climb we would find a way to climb it if there was creek we would swim in it without an overprotective parent freaking out, leeches and all!
The numerous hours I spent with free unsupervised by an adult play meant that by the time I had reached age fifteen I was already quite an accomplished athlete and mentally resilient. My teammates where all 18-21 years of age which meant I was with bigger, faster, stronger more experienced players and my learning fast-tracked because of my skill. I had also made the state team and subsequently, I was selected to the last 24 of the young Socceroos who played in the first-ever FIFA U17 World Cup. I didn’t make the final squad but by then that disappointment was not going to stop me getting what I wanted. By 16 and 9 months I had made my debut in the National Soccer League. The equivalent of today’s A league.
Little did I know back then of the power that words had in shaping my universe. Today I am constantly aware of my own inner voice. I quite often revert to my subconscious programming and I myself am in the process of trying to reprogram myself. Language is a placebo of the mind. If you do not have sufficient self-belief you will not go very far. The practise of positive self-talk is something that all great athletes use. They acknowledge failure but they don’t accept it. They convince themselves that they are great, so much so that when things go wrong they are merely blips on the path to achievement.
Many kids when they first start with us use very disempowering self-talk. As soon as we show them some sort of move to complete, the general reaction is; I can’t do that! So why do kids say that? They weren’t born with this negative reaction to a difficult task, it is a learned behaviour. How many times do children hear the word NO from birth? Don’t touch that, don’t walk there, stop it, etc etc. Kids from birth to approximately age seven are in what they call the beta stage, they are not fully conscious, during this time a human brain is downloading subconscious programs that can determine behaviour for the rest of their lives.
The question is what type of programs are downloading into your children’s subconscious. For example; If you constantly tell kids that you can’t have that because we can’t afford it, the message you’re implanting into the subconscious program is automatically going to kick in every time that child has to make a decision based on spending money in his or her future. This could affect everything from relationships to financial stability. Therefore how we speak to our children and the environment we create for them is crucial in those first few formative years. Our way of speaking is still very primitive. If I were to say Money is? I would bet my life that many reading this will finish the sentence with “the root of all evil” or money doesn’t “grow on trees”. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy based on a fixed mindset. Wealthy people generally don’t use this terminology because it shapes our actions and beliefs.
One thing I have learned is that our environment determines our beliefs and values, in fact, everything, all that we are and all that we know makes up our perception of the world. Many things we believe to be real are only real in our minds, things like international borders only exist in our minds. From space, you can not see any borders, we have created them to protect our way of life from ideologies, customs and laws or beliefs that do not reflect the real world, a world which is shaped through the field, our bodies are nothing more than signal receptors that try to make sense of what, who, where and why. My beliefs or my vision of reality has changed immensely over the course of my life. The two factors which have impacted me the most are travel and immersing myself in good quality content either through books or a variety of different platforms. Books are a window into things that we will never have the time to research and study ourselves, they offer alternate viewpoints on everything and every field of human endeavour. They help nurture critical thought.
Our children are growing up in a different world to ours which is changing rapidly every day. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want the best for their kids. So I ask you as a parent, how will you help your child to navigate today’s world? Does your narrative fit the experiences and evolution of what they will be exposed to away from home and family? How will their friends, school, activities and external influences affect their beliefs and behaviours? Are you prepared for the fact that one day they will not agree with your view of the world? I went through it with my children and we had to adapt to this new world that we are living in today!
How will the language you use today affect your child’s future?