Be Where Your Feet Are

By Rick Ashworth – MSc Applied Sports Science

After only a few days it’s a little too early to start contemplating the success or not of your 90-Day plan, which you clearly began implementing immediately upon stumbling across my last blog…didn’t you? However, even after such a brief period I hope you’ve made some progress; whether that’s just the visualisation of a positive outcome or simply feeling good with the path you’ve begun to plot.images

Now, I’m not into bursting bubbles too quickly but new research from the University of Utrecht, Netherlands, has looked at how those of us with a sunny and positive disposition fare against those who carry a dark, brooding, cloud overhead. Take a moment to reflect on how you’ve approached things recently what achievements you’ve made and, with that in mind, which set do you think tend to do the best in life?

Clearly, it has to be the positive group, surely, I mean that’s a given, focusing on the negative is something we are told never to do? Well, actually, and don’t collapse into floods of tears here because that would be a little too sycophantic but, of those who participated, it was the negative, miserable types who outstripped their bubbling peers. I’ll explain to you why.

Now, granted, the research appeared to focus on younger participants and, more specifically, on those approaching examinations. However, and I think this can still shed valid light onto how the successful approach their lives, the conclusion was that the more negatively we value our ability then the harder we work at it to make it a better skill. In a sporting context think Johnny Wilkinson, who obsessed so much over his penalty kicking that he would stay back for hours after training, not leave at the end of the extra session until he had kicked six consecutive kicks and who spent the whole of one Christmas morning during his career at the training ground, alone, just kicking and kicking and kicking. Of course, that obsessive compulsion is another post about psychology altogether but for our purposes here it shows the dedication required to reach the top.

Talking of Christmas, Sebastian Coe used to do a double session on Christmas Day, driven by the worry that Steve Ovett might be doing more training than he was…he was right, Ovett was doing double-sessions at Christmas too!

Sport is laced with tales of those at the top staying behind to train more than their peers: David Beckham, Chris Hoy and the British Olympic Rowing team to mention just a few. In business a similar work ethic was parodied by Michael Douglas in his portrayal of Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone’s famous 1987 film, Wall Street: “lunch is for wimps” a mantra that continues to be worn by many as a badge of honour today.

I’m not about to advocate working extra hours, exercising an extra 30 minutes or cutting your sleep down by half to create more available time and neither am I suggesting that you shouldn’t celebrate your victories (after all, the aforementioned sportsmen all gloried in victory), however, when you look at your three-month, 90-day or year plan then realise that if the dream goals you’ve written down are really worth being on that piece of card then they should require hard work to get to them. The old adage of nothing worth having comes easy is absolutely bang on.

Thinking things will come to you because you’ve simply taken the time to write them on a list is folly. Writing a list is a way of transferring your thoughts into tangible concepts, making them feel more real and showing others what your goals are – it is not a substitute for hard work. You are writing down your dreams, you are not dreaming.

You can take Christmas off, hell, you can take the whole weekend off if you really like but make sure you work hard when you’re supposed to be working, as a new favourite phrase puts it: be where your feet are. That is to say that when you’re working towards a goal then you’re doing just that; you’re not watching TV or YouTube when you should be writing up that report. You’re not shooting the breeze when you should be training hard in the gym and when you’re having a conversation with your family then you’re not checkin your texts.

Be where you’re feet are and they’ll take you towards your goals.

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