This is a list of some of the most important lessons I've learned (football and non-football related) in my short 32 year stint on planet earth!
1. There are more talkers than doers. The amount of people I’ve come across that tell everyone about their amazing plans but never actually do them has been mindblowing. You see them doing exactly the same thing year after year and never changing, it’s never "the right time". This hit me square in the face when I came back to England from Australia after 3 years. I witnessed people doing exactly the same thing every single day that they were doing 3 years earlier before I left despite telling me they had amazing plans like going travelling or getting into a new career. There’s never a right time, the stars aren’t going to align, just decide what you want and go after it now so you don’t look back and think "what if".
2. 99% of people are not resourceful. It’s rare that I’ve come across someone who has been really up against it and has done everything in their power to find a way out of that situation to a better life. One guy I met in South Africa however was a complete exception to the rule. He grew up in a shanty town on the outskirts of Cape Town in unimaginable poverty and was surrounded by millions (literally) of people in exactly the same situation. I’m talking about living inside in a 2x2m box made of scrap metal with up to 8 other people. Every example surrounding him was demonstrating that this was the life he would have to settle for. But as a teenager he made a decision to change his life and worked relentlessly until he achieved that. He told me over lunch about how he reinvested every cent he earnt working at a petrol station filling up peoples vehicles for them, back into his own ideas until 20 years later he was sitting there talking to me as the owner of a multi-million dollar Cape Town tourism company. I had to prize that life story out of him, one of the humblest guys I’ve ever met. Shocking to think that I regularly come across players these days who can’t even be bothered to do their own google search.
3. A staggering amount of people have absolutely no grasp of health. In March 2020 people flocked to supermarkets to wipe out national supplies of toilet roll, ibuprofen and hand sanitiser, yet the fruit and veg section remained fully stocked and almost untouched. Need I say any more.
4. The long and hard way is the short way. I’ve learnt that when you’re working towards a goal, if you expect the journey to be long and problematic, then it will often be achieved faster and smoother. If you expect the journey to be fast and effortless, then you will lose your mind (and motivation) with the amount of issues you’ll have to deal with along the way.
5. People want to be led. People want to follow. Few want to lead. But if you feel the call to lead, no matter how scary it may be, know that people are waiting for you to take the reins. They’re begging for you to lead.
6. In the grand scheme of the universe my problem is not a problem. Whenever I’ve had to deal with an issue or I’m worried about something, I’ve found it helps to zoom out and find a picture of the earth's place within the universe. We live on a tiny spec of dust which is orbiting one of 1 billion trillion stars...should that troll's facebook comment really be affecting my mood today?
7. Remember to look back and laugh. Sometimes times are stressful, it helps to remember in that moment that probably next week you will be looking back and laughing at how stressed or worried you were.
8. If you want to deliberately lower your vibe, watch the news.
9. You are luckier than you think you are. I’ve started writing down each night all the things that have happened each day which could be considered "lucky". Have a go, you’ll be amazed.
10. Learn how to breathe. Such a powerful way to change your state of mind. Breathe in as deeply as possible and breathe out for 10 seconds like you’re blowing through a straw. Repeat 10 times.
11. Too many chefs spoil the broth. Be guided by one or two people who you know can help you and cut out the rest (even if they’re good). Too many ideas and inputs will have you going around in circles.
12. Trust your gut…no matter how weird or insane it may seem.
13. You’ll feel like the odd one out. In my experience most people are happiest when they fit in and don’t "rock the boat". If you want to be different from the average person then you’re probably going to have to act and do things differently.
14. You cannot beat being in nature.
15. If you follow your passion then something good will always come of it.
16. Nothing is more important than health. By that I also mean mental health too. If you are sick or out of balance, NOTHING else matters more than addressing that first.
17. The best investments you can ever make are the ones you make in yourself. Nothing is going to bring back a greater or quicker reward than you becoming the best person, player or coach you can possibly be on a daily basis.
18. Don’t take advice from people who haven’t achieved what you want to, even if they’re family.
19. Believe that everything happens for a reason. I don’t know if everything actually happens for a reason, but I believe it does. Why? Because life is a lot better when you trust that everything is exactly as it’s supposed to be. You can’t change the past. You can only change your perception of it. Whatever happened, happened. Accept it. Learn from it.
20. Make sure you’re in an environment where you’re happy.
21. Make the tasks which are crucial to achieving your goals as convenient and accessible as possible. Make it almost impossible for you to make an excuse.
22. You do need luck...but you can make choices each day which are luckier than others. For example eating well which leads to you putting on a great performance in front of a scout vs eating poorly and lacking energy when a scout is watching.
23. Get off of social media. Honestly, when was the last time you came off of facebook or instagram and felt amazing or didn’t get distracted? How much time have you wasted scrolling that you could have spent bettering yourself? Yes we have social media channels and I understand it’s important to business, but only so you can find us and then join our email list. I love email, I despise social media. On social media you’re at the complete mercy of the algorithms put in front of your eyes, that’s going to influence your mood and energy. When you get an email, you’re in control of whether you want to open it or not. If you go on social media due to boredom, I get it. I’ve found that mobile games such as wordscapes are a good alternative.
24. Look after your feet. Your feet are your first point of contact with the ground, they need to be strengthened just like any other part of the body. When you’re training, wear minimalist shoes or be barefoot as much as possible, this will really help your resilience to injury. Get rid of those trainers with the huge foam heel, they’re not serving your football career.
25. Don’t make decisions based on what other people might think of you. Make decisions based on what feels right and true to you.
26. Surround yourself with people who have the same goal as you. You’ll push each other.
27. If you have a task you know you need to complete but it seems overwhelming, just start by doing 5 minutes of whatever you need to do. Creating momentum is key.
28. People seek specialists not generalists. By this I mean don’t try to be the guy who can play right back, central midfield and striker, you’ll confuse your identity. Be the specialist central midfielder. I.e Pirlo/Modric
29. Be honest and straight to the point. You can’t go far wrong telling the truth, people will respect it. You can go wrong leading people along because you’re too scared to say what you really think or feel.
30. Success leaves clues. If you study the most successful players or coaches you aspire to be like, you’ll likely notice they all have similar qualities.
31. Life happens for you, not to you. When you make that mindset shift, you’ll be in a better position to embrace the ups and downs of your journey.
32. If you try to please everybody, you end up pleasing nobody.
33. Set time limits to be more productive. If you have a full day free, you’ll find a way to drag out what you need to do to fill it when actually you could have been done and dusted within 2 hours.
34. Intentionally schedule time away from training to stay fresh and motivated.
BONUS 35! The difference between where you are now and where you want to be is not as great as you think. I’ve personally witnessed players go from local league to playing at the very highest level in a matter of a few years. Don’t ever think it’s impossible, but at the same time be realistic about the fact that you’re going to have to work hard and make sacrifices and must already be a very good player.
Which one’s could you relate to the most? Comment below and let me know.