I had an amazing experience in 2017, working with the students from Anderson Secondary School, coaching them for a nationals debate competition which they took part, organised by the Malay Youth Literary Association. The students were very forthcoming, eager to learn and fun-loving.
We had fun during coaching and rehearsal sessions, where I was using my acting experiences and techniques to help the students “perform” on stage. The school and teachers were very supportive of the learning process.
As a results, we emerged champions in 2017! It was a feat to remember both for the students, and school, and definitely for yours sincerely.
For the 2018 season, the school approached me again to work with their new batch of students taking part in the same competition. I need to value-add my knowledge and was looking for suitable reading materials.
Alex Ferguson, the award-winning manager of Manchester United came into my mind. I may not be a Manchester United fan, but having seeing this person led the club for 26 years and won numerous, and sometimes successive, trophies said a lot about this man.
So I picked up the book, “How to Think Like Sir Alex Ferguson: The Business of Winning & Managing Success”, by Professor Damian Hughes.
This book is about leading and managing change. In this article, I summarised some of the key learning points:
1) Character for Change
The book started with a young Irish footballer from Manchester United, Robbie Brady, queueing for lunch at the canteen. When he saw “star player” Christiano Ronaldo emerged from the shower and moved towards the queue, Robbie invited Christiano to join the queue in front of him.
Alex Ferguson saw that incident. As Robbie left the canteen, he asked Robbie why did he do that. Robbie replied that he was just being polite. Alex Ferguson’s response was “I want you to think you are better than him. I want you to believe you can his place in the team….Don’t do that again.”
This is attitude, beliefs and character. When we have the tight attitude and beliefs, we will be able to translate that into our character - thus our ability to embrace change when the time comes.
2) Change Your Focus
Author Damian Hughes cited psychologist Dr Philip Zimbardo’s works where we can focus in three different directions:
We can focus our past failures and dwell on it; or use our past successes as a motivation to move forward. Alex Ferguson invited Sir Bobby Charlton, the survivor of the 1958 Munich crash which took the lives of 23 people.
The intention was not to put the pressure on the current crops of players, rather to inspire them that it was the then manager, Sir Matt Busby who pioneered English clubs to take part in regional competitins; and could have done well if not for the tragedy. That set the standard for Manchester United for regional competitions.
For athletes, this is the present state of mind, or “the zone”. To do that, become intensely aware of your breathing. Once you can count your breathing, means you are in the zone. Paula Radcliffe, the women’s world marathon said that she counted “100 - three times”; that’s her 1 mile. That’s keeps her focus on the present moment.
When we see changes happening all around us, we can embrace them by being fully present.
I would like to share the story of three mosque builders, which was inspired by Manchester United sports psychologist, Bill Beswick’s tale in the book.
Once there were three mosque builders. When each was asked what was he doing, the first builder said that “I am working by laying and cementing the bricks”. The second builder replied, “I am earning S$10 per hour.” The third builder responded with a bigger vision. “I was building a mosque, and one day, I’ll bring my kids to see this and tell them that their dad contributed to this mosque”.
How would you respond if someone were to ask you about your occupation?
3) Control The Winds of Change
When you are faced with a situation change, especially on a situation that makes you feel stressful, you will start to realise that you are getting short of breath, or in some instances, choking. This happened because of our natural response to a perceived threat. And when there is lack of oxygen, it lacks energy. Oxygen is energy; and is needed to to help relax the muscles and clears the mind.
In order to control the stressful situation, is to control the breathing. Deep breathing helps to bring your mind and body to the present present state. A good example is going into a cold shower of cold swimming pool. The cold takes your breath away. Instead if you breathe and stay focus, the body will slowly accustom to the temperature.
These are some of the learning points from the book. The book is available at the libraries with the Call Number 650.1 HUG.
Which of the three I mentioned above resonated with you most? Would like to hear from you.
Towards your continued success,
Applied Creativity & Public Speaking Strategist
Author of 5 books, including "The Stage Fright Antidote"
Hazriq Idrus is a professional speaker on Applied Creativity and a Public Speaking Strategist. Using techniques from the theatre he picked up as a stage actor, Hazriq delivers keynote talks and training programmes that are interactive and experiential in nature. He founded The Speaking Factory Pte Ltd with a mission to help professionals & entrepreneurs to innovate and communicate with impact by finding their inner creativity. Hazriq is contactable at email@example.com.
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