Progress

Channeling the delinquent

Nick Kyrios - shout.jpg

Naughty kids don’t belong in the naughty corner

When I say Nick Kyrios, you probably want to stop reading. I know I have been judgemental of his behaviour at times myself. I have written previously on why he gets too much ‘column space’ in the newspapers for his poor behaviour. Sometimes, he has simply acted like a jerk!

However, I understand that the people who consistently come out on top tend to have a little ‘naughty’ in them. This Audacity serves to push boundaries for heightened creativity, can create a form of authority, and is a sign of independence and strength. Naughty kids have the natural tendency to become the best leaders amongst us. (Devi Clark, Lifehack)

I mention Kyrios, as he is the highest profile bad boy in today’s world of professional tennis. Petulant, seemingly self-centred, and generally acts like a juvenile. In Australia, some would label his antics as ‘un-Australian’. But he is also super talented. And many have commented that ‘if only he would clean up his act, he could become one of the best.

I take a different stance. I think his ‘naughtiness’ is a critical element to why he could be the best. Being naughty brings with it a huge upside as stated above. And this week, I noticed something a little different in Nick… 

Nick thanks a spectator for telling him where to serve on Match Point

Nick thanks a spectator for telling him where to serve on Match Point

This week he won the Citi Open Championship in Washington. He has made a lot of comments of note on his way to claiming this title including, “this has been one of the best weeks in my life”. He has remarked on his mindset, his connection with the locals, and his want to compete for the patrons. At times he spoke like a traditional custodian of the game. A stark departure from his usual soundbites.

Most media commentators are casually remarking that he is straightening up. But that is not what I am seeing. He is still breaking rules. Such as asking spectators where he should serve and playing ping-pong with kids before his matches. He is proving to be non-conformist but not destructive or disrespectful. He is boosting his connection with the community and developing his creativity on court. In his highlights he looks comfortable in his own skin and enjoying the experience as much as paying public. And, his tennis game has elevated because of it. He is channelling his audacity into ways that make him a better player (and in his words “a better person”) rather than a delinquent.

It is wonderful to see, and if he keeps up these behavioural habits he could be the one that breaks the Federa, Nadal, Djokovic era of dominance.

I’m pulling for you Nick, as well as all of the wonderful delinquents out there worldwide.

Learn More about the Behaviours That Matter for Leaders and Sales Professionals here.

Blue Vests for Inappropriate or Inspirational?

AFL’s reaction to the increased poor behaviour in match day crowds (image: Reddit)

AFL’s reaction to the increased poor behaviour in match day crowds (image: Reddit)

The balance between safety and Orwellian dystopia

One of life’s joys in my world is going to watch live sport. I loved playing and intend to enjoy swinging a golf club for decades to come, but watching elite sport is special to me. In fact, I get a little angsty if I go too long without it. I love how I can be watching a sporting event anywhere in the world and turn a stranger next to me and discuss a topic on hand freely with complete openness and connection. Its great fun!

I also love getting parochial. I am big, loud, and can be as one-eyed as any other supporter (i.e.. my team is always getting a raw deal.) It is also a good opportunity to catch up with mates and discuss everything that is going on in our worlds.

With my crew at the Liverpool FC exhibition match at Adelaide Oval a few years ago

With my crew at the Liverpool FC exhibition match at Adelaide Oval a few years ago

It is for all these reasons that my first reaction to the AFL’s Behavioural Awareness Officers at football games this week has been met with scepticism. The supporter nation has expressed its distaste to this initiative as there is a feeling in Australia that yet another layer of policing and surveillance has been introduced.

You can hear the sporting population crying out “What! Now, I can’t even go to a game of footy without being treated like a school kid!” The parallel to George Orwell’s 1984 are being drawn often, and this does not fill my heart with joy.

On the other side, there are harsh realities to face. Do we know how to behave? Are we good at self-regulation? Is it the small minority that ruin it for the rest? In the context of AFL footy, there have been an increased incident of fist fights at games in recent years (the Age). 2019, has been full of anti-social behavioural incidents and trend is not going in the right direction.

So, if the answer to the above questions was ‘no’, then what is the appropriate action to nudge us in the right direction?   

A friend of mine from childhood, Brooke Taylor, works hospitality at Adelaide Oval during AFL games. She speaks of a heavy police presence that should be able to manage anti-social behaviour as there are already plenty of them at games. This on top of security guards dotted around the ground and in stands.

Yet, the AFL felt the need to add another layer of targeted security – the Blue Vested Behavioural Awareness Officers.  

A heavy Police presence - is more of this answer in our communities, teams, and organisations?

A heavy Police presence - is more of this answer in our communities, teams, and organisations?

In my view it is clear that no one wants to be in any environment where they feel unsafe. So Inappropriate behaviour is what we want to eradicate. On the other end of the spectrum is the behaviour we want to encourage; I would suggest this is Inspirational behaviour. Then there is a large gulf in the middle with the centre probably being Vanilla (a generic term for boring or non-descript).

The Behaviour Scale. In the pursuit of Vanilla we can increase the Inappropriate.

The Behaviour Scale. In the pursuit of Vanilla we can increase the Inappropriate.

In searching for lowering the Inappropriate it would seem the AFL have aimed to increase the Vanilla. By doing this, there has unfortunately been an increase in the Inappropriate. Not a decrease.

 It would seem that the Inspirational has been left out of the discussion. Some of the comments in the media have displayed this. A good example is that of Jeff Kennett (ex-Victorian Premier, and current Hawthorn president) saying,

"I’m not being racist when I say this, but when I saw some of the footage, the people who are making judgments while they wear these authoritative coats, are not people who appear to have a great knowledge of our game."

This is not helpful, and Kennett has apologised since. But there is one element in his comment that is near the mark. Stay with me on this.

In 2004, Portugal hosted the European Cup in soccer (like the World Cup, but for European Nations). The Portuguese were readying themselves for an invasion of English fans (called Hooligans) that would travel in mass and had a reputation as the most thuggish in the world. Riot gear and water cannon tanks were being marshalled ($21 million worth!). Aside to this they also enrolled other help. Clifford Stott, a crowd violence expert was drafted in to help. He implemented Blue Vests, coincidentally as the AFL have done. But in a very different way and with greatly different results.  

Riots in Portugal’s Euro 2004 tournament occurred where Riot Police were stationed. Coincidence?

Riots in Portugal’s Euro 2004 tournament occurred where Riot Police were stationed. Coincidence?

 Stott, implemented the following ideas:

1.       No riot gear – this signals war. It signals get ready to fight. The exact opposite message to send the crowds.

2.       Select the right people – he did not select officers for their riot control skills, but ones that had good social skills. They could have a friendly chat and strike up conversation.

3.       Study – all of these officers were encouraged to study the teams, the players, the coaches, and form guides. This is the bit Kennett was on nearer the target on – game knowledge is crucial to be able to interact in a way to signal positive behaviours.

4.       Intervention – policing at the level the crowd saw as appropriate, not a level the police saw as appropriate. This was the toughest initiative to get the team behind. It seemed illogical but proved essential. This would eradicate feelings of injustice and violent responses.

The result was that over a three-week period, Portugal welcomed over one million fans and there was only one arrest of an English supporter. There were 2000 police-crowd interactions reported, with only 0.4% qualifying as disorderly. The only violence experienced was in areas where Riot Policing was still being utilised. In fact, one incident occurred in Portugal where English fans asked the Blue Vests to sort out another policeman who was using force on a punter. The Hooligans were now policing the police’s behaviour!

In 2008, they literally wrote the handbook based on Stott’s and other’s work called Policing football in Europe. Not everything translates, but Gillion McLachlan (AFL CEO) could do with including this in his bedtime reading.

The big lesson I take from this is that when the police, security, and the crowd have a sense of shared purpose, the Inspirational behaviours are encouraged. Everyone is on the same side.

This provides us all with an opportunity to reflect on our teams and organisations where all too often there are heavy handed tactics to ‘Vanilla’ everyone’s behaviour instead of encouraging Inspirational behaviours.

What type of Blue Vests do you want to see? What type of Blue Vest are you?

Infinite is possible

liverpool with kop vs barcelona.jpg

Liverpool Football Club show us anything is possible

Last week, Liverpool Football Club (LFC) won when they had no right to win. The Full Story here for those that do not follow European Soccer, or Sport in general. LFC had their best players sidelined because of injury, were playing the best team (and player) in the world, and had to score three goals without allowing Barcelona to score one. The assignment was as tough as any seen in the industry.

Jurgen Klopp, the LFC Manager, simply asked his team to go out and “celebrate football”, and to “fail beautifully”. There was no focus on result, but more a focus on enjoying the opportunity and the shared experience. In the ultra-macho world of sport, we are starting to see leaders show the value of openness, vulnerability, and using the concept of love.

Even in Australian Rules Football, we saw last year’s runner-up Coach Nathan Buckley (Collingwood) declare his ‘love’ for his players at three-quarter-time in the Grand Final. They lost, but are stronger and more united than ever since that day. This would have been taboo in years gone by. And, it still may be in boardrooms today.

Click to watch Raw Emotion - The Coach's Grand Final experience

Click to watch Raw Emotion - The Coach's Grand Final experience

These men are showing us that through Social Proficiency they are gaining elite performance. They understand that technical ability and analytic ability are important and need to be worked on every day for improvement. But the social abilities are where the truly transformative results come from.

Klopp described his team as being “f*!king mentality monsters”. From what I understand there are a few ingredients that go into being a mentality monster:

1.       Belief – knowing ‘we can do this’. Usually coming from doing the work and doing this work over a prolonged period of time. There are no short cuts.

2.       Undistracted – is that even a word…? It is now. No matter what the world is throwing at us, we will continue to focus on the few isolated things we need to do now to drive the project forward.

3.       Passionate Care – we need to find meaning. Otherwise it is difficult to push when all seems lost.

4.       Shared Purpose – the elements that tie everyone together in their efforts.

"They are f*!king mentality monsters", Jurgen Klopp in a live interview on Sky Sports

"They are f*!king mentality monsters", Jurgen Klopp in a live interview on Sky Sports

When asked to achieve an insurmountable target or goal, remember Jurgen and his boys. Remember the red men, and how they sent Barcelona packing when every single rational thought told us it was not possible.

It doesn’t just happen in the movies. Infinite is actually possible for all of us.

Play Beyond Targets is a multi-discipline program with four key pillars to help professionals build rhythm into their workflows, their teams, and their organisations. It is with this Rhythm that effectiveness can skyrocket enabling people to achieve well beyond what they thought was possible. Get in touch with me directly to find out more - paul@paulfarina.com.au

When to reflect

Natural breaks offer the opportunity to look back

Yesterday I had the pleasure of working with the Southern Regional Management Team at Lowes Menswear. What a great bunch of people that inspired me with their stories of connection and care they have for their brand and respective teams.

Working with the Southern Regional Management Team for Lowes Menswear

Working with the Southern Regional Management Team for Lowes Menswear

One discussion point that we worked through revolved around reflection. What is it? When to do it? How to do it? And is it beneficial? There were a few highlights in the discussion:


1.       Awareness

Those that have attended one of my talks will know that I love Ernest Hemmingway’s quote “Everything in life happens gradually and then suddenly”. A great way to explain that our small habitual actions accumulate – both in a positive and negative way. Reflection gives us the opportunity to be smashed in the face (normally referred to as realisation) with how far we have come or how far we have slid over the past few months. Awareness is a powerful agent of positive change.

Positive and Negative habits accumulate to build powerful outcomes.

Positive and Negative habits accumulate to build powerful outcomes.

2.       Conscious Streaming

Cameron Schwab introduced me to a method call Conscious Streaming (or Stream of Consciousness) which is the technique of journaling our thoughts in real time. Click here for a more in-depth explanation. This is a wonderful way to become aware of your thoughts and make sense of them. A great way to set yourself up to make better decisions, especially when we find ourselves in an emotional state.

3.       Time is your friend

Reflection doesn’t take much time. In fact, sitting down with a paper and pen to write out some thoughts can take as little as a few minutes. When done regularly there seems to be a cumulative effect that builds. James Clear writes beautifully on the power of habits in his book Atomic habits – a great read for those wanting to implement habitual changes in the way they work and generally live.

4.       Do it your way

Writing the old-fashioned way can be a great way to slow our mind down, and neurologically has been proven to have many benefits (Huffington Post). But please don’t restricted yourself to this. Find a style that suits you and run with it!

5.       Anything

What stops many people is that they are not sure what to write. Freeing yourself of restraint is a great place to start. Ultimately, getting your thoughts on interactions with others, certain aspects of work, how we are feeling, and what we are thinking are all relevant. Keeping it simple, honest, and open is all that is required. And when you are done whatever you have written can be thrown in the bin. There is no need to keep it, file it, or share it unless you want to.

With almost four months gone in 2019 and the Easter break upon us this weekend presents a natural break in our working rhythms to stop and reflect on what is working, what is not, what can be tweaked, and what can be eliminated.

I hope you have a lovely break with your nearest and dearest over this Easter Holiday. Have fun and take a moment out to do a little thinking.

Contact Paul to organise a Lunch n Learn Session like the Lowes Team experienced - paul@paulfarina.com.au