How to Climb from the Bottom to the Top

In order to set a goal that motivates you (and to break that goal down, no matter it’s size, into a task that you are motivated to complete right now, today) you need a clear, measurable end result and to know that you have reached it.

Without getting too philosophical, this means that you have been inspired by the idea of something good enough to put in efforts to have, experience or achieve.

You therefore need to able to do two different things:

  1. To be able to measure how good your performance is at the task or collection of tasks (your progress or closeness to achieving your goal)
  2. To be able to set standards on the way to your eventual goal that…
    a) Are beyond your current standard
    b) Are within reach (in the circumstances and with the resources available) with a time frame that doesn’t exhaust your interest or patience

You could call them Metrics and Mile Posts (the subjects of my next two blogs). The important point here is that they are NOT the same thing.

For Leicester City this year the goal they set was not winning the premier league. It wasn’t even qualifying for European football. It was avoiding relegation.

The miracle they are on the verge of achieving is not one of defying their own limited abilities. If that were true then they would not have been able to get this far (8 points clear with 2 games left in the richest league on earth) on luck. Instead it is a testament to one of the most perfect examples of motivation and expectation management in the history of sport.

At every point, in every instance of unexpected victory or supposed over-achievement, their wise old owl of a manager, Claudio Ranieri, somehow managed to keep the team focused on the next thing that would be most likely to produce the best result. Not the trophy, or the glory or the bragging rights but the task that was next in line that built upon the last.

He spoke about free pizza for the team keeping clean sheets. He somehow kept Jamie Vardy’s focus on working for the team when all the press wanted to talk about was breaking goalscoring records. He deflected questions left and right about individual players, about chances of winning the title. All the wild and wonderful things that fill the minds of fans and poison the minds of players with a job to do and a game, a matter of days away, that all their focus will be needed to win.

Do we believe that Arsenal or Manchester City or United have any less desire to win the premier league? Do we think that they aren’t prepared to work as hard, to do what it takes to make it to the top?

Some will disagree, but I don’t think so.

What is harder and more fundamental to success than even desire, ability or hard work is the focus of mental energy required to put everything into what needs to be done in order to succeed. That is the only way that a team of people with fewer resources can compete with and beat a team with more: by making more efficient use of what they have.

It also presupposes that you know what needs to be done (your metrics) and that you can keep your mind on the smaller tasks that will get you there (your milestones).

You can’t pressure or boo or simply criticise a person into producing their best and that includes yourself. If those things worked then the bad publicity clubs received would power them to the top. What you have to do is to find the sweet spot; where that person believes that the next task towards their goal or dream can be gripped like the very next rung of the ladder, one in immediate reach.

That’s how dreams are achieved. That’s how leagues are won.


And when you’ve blocked enough shots and won enough tackles and made the opposition work for every point they win from you, the oldest cliché and the truest adage of football comes into play: take every game as it comes.


Photo credit: pietropiupparco


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