The Blessing is in the Detail…

Claudio Ranieri is an Italian football manager who will never, ever be forgotten. For anyone who has no idea who he is, I am sure you will have heard about Leicester City winning the football Premier League at the end of the 2015/16 season.

It is widely acknowledged as the most shocking sporting team result in the history of sport. At the start of the season, they were 5000-1 rank outsiders to win the league but by the end of it, most people like me who had been following them with increasing amazement as the season progressed, as well as those who have been supporting them their entire lives were awestruck by what they had achieved.

All that to say, Claudio Ranieri is starting low all over again – this time with south-west London club Fulham. Now I’m not saying they will win the league this season or even next season but my attention was captured by a simple story about the wise Italian’s instant impact at the club who currently sit at the bottom of the Premier League.

With their previous manager in control (or not as the case may be) the Fulham players would eat their lunch in the club canteen and then get up and leave.

Not with Ranieri around they don’t. He has insisted that no one leaves until the last person has finished their lunch.

It may sound simplistic. It may even sound legalistic.

It is neither of these.

Even their warm up routines have been subtly but dramatically changed to increase the cohesion and harmony in the team. If the player leading their warm-ups leads with his right leg for the first move, everyone has to move with their right leg.

This is what is known as ‘cognitive cohesion’. (Actually I just made that up but it sounds quite good I think!)

Whatever you may want to call it, whenever and wherever you encourage, or even dare I say it, force people in a team to come together to build a greater sense of unity and togetherness, great things can potentially happen.

In Fulham’s case, that will mean simply staying in the Premier League for next season, Beyond that, who knows but I’m not sure I would bet against Claudio Ranieri doing something extraordinary again.

And while the headlines are what we tend to remember, for the players and those closest to the real work behind the scenes, the blessing is in the detail.


How the Words of a Dying Man Could Save You

Today I listened for more than an hour to someone who was recently diagnosed with an inoperable, terminal illness and has been given only weeks to live. To be honest, I had never heard of him before one of the marketing experts I follow sent me an email about his situation. Persuaded by a close friend to deliver one last webinar, (an online seminar in case you’re unfamiliar) I listened to it live just this afternoon and was taken aback not so much by his material, because as both he and his friend made clear from the introduction, “What you will hear is not new but coming from this unique perspective, allow what you hear to be thought of in a new way.” No, I was taken aback by his willingness to make himself so utterly vulnerable, with emotions exacerbated by morphine and yet, still able to offer great wisdom in a way that truly resonated with me partly because of his use of a journey as a metaphor for life, which I love to ponder a lot.

He was extremely honest about the mistakes he had made and the things he is thankful for. In honour of his courage and genuine commitment to helping others, even during his literal dying days, the only other things I will post here today are the questions he posed for us all to consider and a link to the webinar itself, should you wish to listen to the recording.

His name is Mike Seddon and his friend helping him to deliver the webinar is Dov Gordon. If I didn’t think it was worth your time, I would not of course, have written this blog today. At the very least, I highly recommend you take time out to reflect on the five questions he got us to seriously consider:

1. “What’s My Why?” & “Am I Living It?”

Mike_and_Dov2. “What Does Success Look Like?”

3. “Am I Enjoying the Journey?”

4. “Am I Hanging Out With the Right People?”

5. “What Would Happen to My Loved Ones if I was No Longer Around?”


Passion Gets the Job!

Rafa Nadal passion

Way back in the early 1990s, there was a superb tourism commercial for Spain. Lots of fast paced music and rapid montages with a single sentence spoken at the end…”Spain; passion for life.”

I have never forgotten that forty second film and it isn’t because I absolutely love Spain. The last three words are what it is all about for me. Passion for Life. Fast forward to just the other day and I was sat at home watching the latest TV instalment for Alex Polizzi fans – this time a search for a Head Chef to take on the demands of a gastropub in the Forest of Dean. The basic format of the show is there are three rounds of interviews – largely comprising cooking some pretty amazing dishes – involving three chefs in each round. So, nine applicants, whittled down to a final three on the last day. The chefs, ranging from experienced men who have been cooking all over the world right through to a few very young men for whom this could represent their opportunity to step up and make their mark in the world.

The owner, a very passionate, animated, even rather cantankerous man of Greek descent, was clearly looking for someone who would share his passion for the rich, local flavours that could be conjured up in such a way that their local customers wouldn’t know what had hit them.

In the end, it came down to two relatively young men with enormously contrasting styles for the owners to choose between. One had worked in restaurants practically his whole life, having been taught by his father, himself a head chef in their own establishment, and had then gone on to work in some fine dining places himself, including running his own restaurant. The other contender was from a small Welsh town, with not many nearby culinary attractions but had been beavering away, developing his skills to the point where he had created enough confidence to even apply for such a role as this. Both were clearly fantastic chefs and both badly wanted the job. But one wanted it more badly than the other, and it was his obvious passion not simply for the food he was preparing but also the opportunity and the prize that awaited him should he win the competition that separated him from the other man. This other man said he wanted the job, and even did his best to convince the owner when the latter asked to speak with him privately – desperate to suck out whatever passion he could see into, despite the ostensible laid back attitude that was on display.

When all was said and done, the dishes had been cooked, the full service evening had been delivered and had been enthusiastically consumed by the invited guests. It was now time for the decision and despite the natural talent of the man who had been cooking his entire life, and the consummate ease with which he appeared to do everything, the job went to the lesser experienced, you could even argue, less naturally talented chef. And the reason was very simple. The owner needed to see at least the same level as passion as he had for his creation in order to trust that he was leaving the all-important food in good hands.

But this young man from Wales who demonstrated passion also did something else which the more naturally gifted chef failed miserably to do. He followed the brief to the letter and this included detailed costings of every dish he had to prepare because he understood that you can have all the talent, skill and yes, even passion in the world but if you haven’t got the numbers right, it aint going to work as a business. The other chef was so ridiculously laid back that he literally guessed the cost of each dish. He may well have been accurate (although his figures were challenged at least once) but it was the lack of diligence that cost him the job, as well as his perceived lack of passion.

Diligent chef

An old proverb says “diligence is man’s most precious possession” and this is arguably true. But hard on the heels of diligence has to be passion because that combination alone can supply you with the tools with which to turn your passion into something truly amazing and beautiful for all the world to see and enjoy.

And for any of those old enough to remember it or even those who would simply love to know why on earth I have never forgotten that film, here is a link below. It could be the best forty seconds you spend today!