Tim Grover, legendary coach of sporting greats such as Michael Jordon, writes in his hard-hitting book ‘Relentless’ about mental toughness and how to become not just good but great at what we do. This was the straight to the point ‘dust yourself off’ and keep moving forward book I needed.
I have always done things differently. I don’t conform.
Putting myself out there in many arenas I have opened myself up to a great deal of criticism, which at times has been very difficult to hear. Having a very different parenting style to most and strong views on a few subjects that mean a great deal to me, I have decided to avoid the easy way out and practice what I teach.
Being the only female cricket coach at sporting conferences and ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) training courses, all eyes were on me. The classic walking into a bar scenario when everyone goes pin-drop silent with all eyes following me as I find my seat. Someone even asked if I was there for a child welfare course …”No thank you, actually, I’m here as a coach.”
I have so much joy in saying that many more talented girls and fantastic women are involved in the sport and indeed RUN the training courses now. Cricket has moved on and is a great game for both boys and girls to get involved.
As a young girl, my father used to coach me. He used to put me in the nets, to face a hard ball with no pads to protect my legs, he used to enjoy watching me batting so happily and freely without fear. I have many fond childhood memories training with Dad in the nets.
I often quickly built up an audience as the guys training in the other nets would hear the loud noises of bat on ball coming from my net and stop to watch this little girl knocking it out of the park; not afraid of hitting a cricket ball.
Years later an injury meant that I had to stop playing. I turned my energy into instilling the joy of the sport into my two boys and learning ‘how’ to coach them to give them the best of my abilities.
I am very lucky to have had such great support from my Dad who always made me feel that I was just as good as any other boy my age and there was nothing I couldn’t do as a girl. Also, the fantastic support from my husband, fellow male colleagues and mentors along the way all empowered me to feel that I could do it.
Having put so much time and effort into being the best I can be and spending a great deal of time researching and planning each coaching session I must admit I took any criticism hard.
This quote by Theodore Roosevelt has stayed with me and guides me forward not just as a cricket coach but as a mother and individual; not afraid to stand out and be different, successes and failures all.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly;
who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds;
who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst,
if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I have come a long way over the many years and grown in confidence in myself and my abilities and so grateful to all that have helped me get here.
I have developed a process of handling ‘criticism’ to help me keep moving forward that I encourage you to try out next time you are faced with the opportunity.
MY PROCESS: Is it Feedback or Criticism?
As Tim Grover writes, it’s up to Us. We choose how we want to frame it. My default was to immediately think negative and frame it as criticism.
I have now made the choice to see it all as neutral FEEDBACK. This unemotional reframing also means that I have the choice to accept it or not.
No emotion attached: It’s all Just Feedback.
WHO IS IT FROM?
Is it from a fellow coach? or parent or someone who is in the same arena and understands your journey?
If it’s from someone who has my best interest at heart like my Dad, my husband or a fellow coach or perhaps another mother I am much more likely to take it as positive feedback given with good intentions.
If it’s from someone outside the arena ‘Heckling from the cheap seats’ as Brené Brown says then I may decide to let it go.
DOES IT SERVE YOU?
If Yes, thank them and if it does indeed serve you:
Accept it in, Use it Positively and Grow.
If NO it doesn’t serve you, thank them and
Let it go.
It’s hard work and the responsibility is huge. To be an influential figure to young people is a massive honour for me and I take it very seriously. I can honestly say I’ve loved the journey and wouldn’t change it or who I have become.
What I take with me as a mother and as a coach and as an individual is that I will continue to DARE GREATLY.
Next time we are faced with this opportunity I encourage you to join me:
It’s all neutral feedback
If it Serves you: Take it, Use it and Grow.
If Not, Let it go.