Would you recognise yourself as an egotistical person? Probably not.

images-35No one likes to think of themselves as self-centred or conceited. This is the article by Edwina Langley in today’s Evening Standard on Steven Sylvester’s groundbreaking philosophy & book DETOX YOUR EGO.

It might be framed up as confidence, sold as ‘self-belief’, but in order to succeed in the toughest of industries, some level of selfishness is required.

The question is, what do you do with that selfishness when you make it?

zoolander-2-16… you train yourself to be self-serving in order to compete with your peers. On the way up, you become ruthless, shrewd and tough – and it works. Then you get that promotion, you become Mr/Mrs Boss. Then what? Let go of those characteristics? Unlikely.

It’s likely is that those behaviours have become entrenched – and very hard to shift (if you’re even aware you have them). You made it to the top, so what’s to stop someone else getting to the top and toppling you. You could hardly blame yourself for becoming even more egotistical, even more selfish, if only to defend your current status…

So how do you go from selfish high-achiever to selfless leader? The answer is a full-on ego detox.

Steven Sylvester, professional cricketer-turned-psychologist and founder of Leadership withoutEGO has a seven-point plan to see you through.

Think you (or your boss) might benefit? Take a look at today’s EVENING STANDARD article on how to Detox Your Ego written by Edwina Langley here http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/7-ways-to-detox-your-ego-in-the-workplace-a3180886.html


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Lewisham Civic Leadership Programme 2016

Steven Sylvester was honoured to be asked by Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote to deliver a key note address to the Graduates of tIMG_5861he Lewisham Civic Leadership Programme today. The Mayor of Lewisham and Simon Wool
ley, Director of Operation Black Vote were also in attendance.  The evening consisted of a talk by Steven on ‘Detox Your Ego’ and an address by one of the Graduates Jade McDonald.  Each participant was given a signed copy of Detox Your Ego and presented with their Graduation Certificates.

The Civic Leadership Programme is designed to help more people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds get active in civic and political life.

The Civic Leadership Programme is a partnership between Lewisham Council and Operation Black Vote.


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Stanmore Baptist Church use Detox Your Ego as their Book of the Month

We were so pleased to hear today that Stanmore Baptist Church have chosen Detox Your Ego as their book of the month. The Minister of this Church is a man by the name of Shaun Lambert and he has been an immense supporter and advocate of the Detox Your Ego & withoutEGO philosophy.

Using Detox Your Ego in small groups that facilitates discussion and debate is just why Steven wrote this book.  By sharing our thoughts and questions, we generate greater learning all round.  We were excited to see the book being used in this way.

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Heat Magazine – Review of Detox Your Ego

Heat Magazine 6.1.16Heat Magazine reviewed Detox Your Ego in their Words of Wisdom Page today

Are you a competitive person? If you fail to win,  do you beat yourself up about it? Then this book could be a big help.  Psychologist Steven Sylvester argues that this need to come out on top leads us to become selfish and self-centered, and thus unhappy.

This book offers a seven-step plan to “detoxing” your self-destructive ego and promises the reader a far happier life. Worth a shot right?

Heat Review 6.1.16


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The Lady reviews Detox Your Ego

Today we had a review on Detox Your Ego in the oldest and most prestigious magazines in the UK. Thanks to The Lady Magazine, they reviewed the following.

“Psychologist Steven Sylvester’s inspiring book offers a unique approach to achieving your goals. He shares seven easy steps that will increase you understanding of your ego – the ‘natural defence system’ that is activated when you feel anxiety or fear – to help transform yourself. If you’re willing to enter a personal metamorphosis in the way you think, feel and act, I would encourage you to pick up this book.

Although uncomfortable and challenging at times, it will motivate you to be the best that you can be.

A perfect New Year’s catalyst to help you be freer, happiness and more successful”

The Lady cover The Lady Review

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Detox Your Ego in The Times

Is your ego too big or too small? – The Times – Matthew Syed 7th Jan 2016

7247e01a-b496-11e5_1039645cDo you worry that you aren’t assertive enough or are you beginning to suspect that you thrust yourself forward so often, and talk about yourself so much, that you alienate colleagues, friends and perhaps even family?

Ego — defined as “one’s sense of self-worth or importance” — is the subject of a new book by Steven Sylvester, a cricketer turned psychologist. He argues that inflated egos are getting in the way of our objectives. People who compete to bolster their sense of self-worth, who narrowly focus on their own interests, experience more stress, failure and frustration, he says.

However, he suggests that stress can be reduced, and our talents liberated, if we work towards bigger ideals such as family, country or moral purpose. “When we think about ‘me, me, me’ we tend to get nervous and to worry about what could go wrong,” he says. “But when we play for others, when the focus is outwards rather than inwards, we become more creative and ultimately more effective. We have to get our egos out of the way.”

Sylvester’s interest in psychology came from his experience of playing county cricket in the 1990s. His form was never consistent. He struggled with nerves. He belatedly realised that he was putting too much pressure on himself because he wanted to be the main man. Only when he learnt to turn his focus away from his ego did he discover a deeper joy in the game.

Sylvester doesn’t mention it but this tallies with the work of William Muir, a biologist at Purdue University in Indiana who wanted to increase the productivity of chickens, as measured by eggs laid. He took a group of ordinary chickens and left them alone for six generations. When he came back, he found that they were fully feathered, behaving normally and producing lots of eggs.

Then he took a group of the most productive chickens and put them together and in each generation allowed only the most productive to breed. This was a group of what might be called “super chickens”. After six generations of selective breeding, however, things had gone terribly wrong. All but three were dead. The rest had been pecked to smithereens.

Margaret Heffernan, a chief executive turned writer, who has popularised Muir’s work, says that the problem here is the chicken equivalent of ego. The super chickens want to rise above the rest. They want to be the star performers. They are driven by their aims and interests. But that is why they are not able to collaborate, to share, to coexist.

“For the past 50 years we’ve run most organisations along the super-chicken model,” Heffernan says. “If the only way the most productive can be successful is by suppressing the productivity of the rest, then we badly need to find a better way to work and a richer way to live.”

The interesting thing about this perspective is that it attacks the basic model that most of us operate with. Most of us crave additional self-worth. We want to be more assertive and to have sharper elbows. Yet the problem with building bigger egos is not just that it can have bad effects on those around you, it can also undermine your own objectives. It may sound idealistic but, according to this vision, it is only by connecting with others that we can achieve our goals.

Greg Walton, a psychologist at Stanford University, has taken this analysis to an intriguing destination. In one experiment he took a group of maths undergraduates at Yale and gave them a test. Before taking the test, the students were asked to read a profile of a former Yale maths student called Nathan Jackson. In fact, Jackson was fictional and the profile had been written by Walton but the students didn’t know that.

In the profile, the students read that Jackson became interested in maths as a youngster and now had a teaching post at a university. In the middle was a bit of biographical information about Jackson, including his age, home town and birthday. But here’s the twist: for half the students Jackson’s birthday was altered to match that of each student; for the other half it wasn’t.

“We wanted to see whether something as arbitrary as having a shared birthday with someone who was good at maths would ignite a motivational response,” Walton said.

To Walton’s astonishment, the “matched” students persevered a full 65 per cent longer than those in the non-matched group. They also reported more positive attitudes towards maths and greater optimism about their abilities. “They were in a room by themselves taking the test,” Walton later said. “The door was shut; they were socially isolated; and yet [the birthday connection] had meaning for them. They weren’t alone. The love and interest in maths became a part of them . . . Suddenly, it was us doing this, not just me.”

When people are working for themselves and are focused on their ego they are liable to run out of steam, particularly if the problem is difficult, but when they feel connected to others, they find new reservoirs of inspiration. And if this motivational effect is so strong when the connection is arbitrary (a shared birthday), think how much more powerful it would be when the connection is a shared country (patriotism), group (tribalism) or set of values.

Is ego always such a bad thing? Can it not have positive effects too? Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer at Facebook, argues that women in particular can take the ideal of empathy and collaboration too far and should learn to be more self-obsessed. At a talk to an all-female group of employees of a City institution, she asked her audience to raise their hand if they aspired to be chief executive. No arms went up. The women didn’t want to appear grasping or egotistical. But Sandberg’s point had been made. “If I had asked that question of men in this company, every single hand would have been raised,” she said.

Sandberg’s thesis is not just that men tend to have bigger egos (which they do), it is also that because men have bigger egos they put themselves forward for opportunities that women might typically shrink from. This in turn gives men an opportunity to stretch their limitations, learn new things and build fresh confidence. Little wonder that, a few years down the line, it is the men whose egos have grown ever more robust while the women are still shrinking in the background.

Sport has long grappled with the issue of ego. The debate over Kevin Pietersen was effectively about whether a “super chicken” could be accommodated within the England team. Management apparently felt that his narcissistic attitude was corroding the team ethic, which Pieterson denies. Pietersen’s admirers argued that a decent coach should have been able to harness his ego in the service of the team’s objectives. The debate continues but, having heard stories of his disruptiveness, I find myself sympathising with the management.brick_ego_200X300_1039712d

Ultimately, it is about balance. What Sylvester and Walton are reacting against is the egocentric attitude that became so dominant, particularly in the City, over the past 30 years. The paradigm was one of ferocious internal competition, a kind of Darwinian free-for-all in suits. Large egos were encouraged by management under the premise that the best would rise to the top. This undoubtedly contributed to the scale of the collapse in 2008.

Yet as with any reaction, there is always a danger of taking things too far. I know of at least one company that doesn’t conduct performance reviews for individuals but only for teams. While this may sound wonderfully collegiate, one suspects that they are undermining the fizz and thrust that can emerge from internal competition. To go back to the terminology of Sylvester, it may indeed be a good idea to detox one’s ego from time to time, but all of us wish to shine once in a while, even at the expense of our friends and colleagues.

After all, isn’t that a part of what it means to be human too? By Matthew Syed, The Times

Five ways to get over yourself

1 Try to win not just for yourself, but for others too

2 Respond positively to failure, working out what you can learn rather than covering up mistakes

3 Think of your work not exclusively in terms of monetary reward,

but also in terms of purpose and meaning

4 Don’t always focus on what you contribute to a team effort, but also recognise what others contribute

5 Think about your connections with others rather than focusing on your differences to them

Detox Your Ego: 7 easy steps to achieving freedom, happiness and success in your life by Steven Sylvester (Headline, £12.99) is out now.

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Detox Your Ego – Publisher’s Press Release

What stops you performing at your best?  Your ego.

Your ego guarantees “you-get-in-the-way-of-yourself” when you’re doing something important: whether you’re preparing for an exam, taking a driving test, speaking in public, making a business presentation, or crossing the line in sport.

“What-you-tell-yourself” (ego) is sure to interfere with your performance. Your ego is your natural defence system, triggered when strong emotions such as anxiety and fear sweep through you. By enabling you to understand your underlying emotions and fears, DETOX YOUR EGO gives you a new way of achieving your dreams.

Chartered Psychologist Steven Sylvester believes the pursuit of winning for “one’s self” should come with a Government Health warning – like smoking – it can seriously damage your health.logo-leadership-without-ego

DETOX YOUR EGO takes you on a journey of self-discovery, a process that enables you to build self-esteem and gain a higher degree of freedom when performing. Steven’s inspiring and ground-breaking philosophy focuses on a brand new approach to winning, which he has used successfully helping elite athletes become World Champions as well as with global business leaders. In DETOX YOUR EGO, Steven shares for the very first time the seven easy steps to be freer, happier and more successful in your life.

DETOX YOUR EGO liberates you “to be the best that you can be”.
Detox your EGO is available in all good book stores and on-line from the 7th January 2016 and available now for pre-order on-line from Amazon all leading retailers.


For further information and to discuss features and interviews, please contact Ella Bowman ella.bowman@headline.co.uk │

Tel.: +44(0)203 1227 104 │ Mob.: +44(0)7917 243 503




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‘A focus on winning produces couch-potato culture’

Britain’s couch-potato culture is creating a “lost generation” of obese and physically inactive teenagers, as latest figures show the number of people aged 16 and above taking part in sport at least once a week has slumped by 400,000.

IMG_4815 In addition, medical researchers have observed that highly active children are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and coronary heart disease later in life. Yet new figures show the extent of the current obesity crisis that is gripping the nation. More than 135 people with diabetes have a leg, foot or toe amputated each week and four out of five of these amputations are preventable. It is estimated that obesity costs the NHS £4.2 billion a year and physical inactivity about £1.1 billion. Therefore, we are undeniably facing a serious problem.

Our children have to be active every day; physical activity stimulates growth and leads to improved physical and emotional health. Exercise is also known to relieve stress. In today’s society more and more children are experiencing as much stress, depression, and anxiety as adults do. Thus the need for exercise that improves their health is required now more than ever. A fit child is more likely to be well rested and mentally sharp and even moderate physical activity has been shown to improve a child’s skill at arithmetic, reading, and memorisation.

However exercise, gives a child far more than physical health. Chartered psychologist Steven Sylvester points out that sport, not just exercise is invaluable when it comes to children’s psychological state of mind.

“Sport offers children a deep sense of belonging, whether that’s being
part of a team or community and it also provides them with unparalleled happiness when they preform at their best and enjoy the many rewards it has to offer.”

Sylvester believes that children need sport in their lives as it m
ost importantly teaches them how to develop their inner drive, relationships and the ability to make decisions under pressure. Sport therefore is fundamental in building our self-esteem. They learn the value of expressing themselves freely in something they love doing with their peers and gain a great feeling of acceptance as others value them.

However, current British sporting culture means that we have an over emphasis on a win-at-all-costs mentality. Subsequently, sports are overtly focused at the elitimages-13e end to the detriment of creating sport for all, where children can cultivate and participate for the sheer love of being involved. As a result of this culture, a breed of ‘pushy parents’ has evolved which discourages our children, who are then unable to see the benefits of sports participation.

For example, earlier this year, Marylebone Cricket Club and Chance to Shine, a charity that encourages and enables children to play cricket, carried out a survey that found more than 40% of children who responded had seen an adult abusing an official at a sports event. More significantly, just over a quarter said they thought winning was more important to their parents than it was to them.

In another report published last year, the organisation found that nearly half of the children said their parents’ behaviour made them want to give up. This highlights that we have a complex battle going on between the need for our children to participate in an active lifestyle and the potential damaging psychological effects parents can have if they do not manage their involvement in the way that suits the needs of their children best.

But what is the solution to this apparent problem?

“I think we have a moral, ethical and cultural duty to ensure every adult understands the need to educate our children as to the importance of being active, using sport as a vehicle.” In addition to being a father of four, Steven has had 20 years of consulting with young people. He has developed five key areas that he believes both children and their parents must be aware of and embrace to really achieve the upmost freedom, happiness and success from involvement sport.

group-of-hands“Initially, parents that do not listen to their children’s expectations in their sporting lives are placing them on a self destructive path”. The psychologist claims that if there is a mismatch between parents and children when it comes to what they expect from the child’s involvement in playing sport, then there may be negative consequences. “Nothing can be more crushing for a young child than the stress of being forced to partake in a sport to meet requirements set by their own parents. Coming from a professional sporting background, Steven played cricket to First Class level. Like his father before him, who played to good club level, Steven maintains that his passion for sport is not pushed upon his own children. He believes that the best thing to do for the development of children is to expect nothing more than for them to do their best. “If the child believes their parents only want them to try their hardest, it will allow them to perform freely under less pressure. The real reason behind playing the sport for enjoyment will rise to the surface and subsequently they will feel much happier.” If this attitude is adopted into society, an increase in sports participation will surely rise amongst young people.

Secondly, parents and children who don’t smile and embrace errors in sport can have a serious impact on the child’s progression and mind-set. “A closed attitude towards mistakes promotes the idea that failure is unacceptable” Steven says, “This generates a lot of stress for young children to cope with, as they feel isolated under the impression that it is not ok to make errors.” In today’s extremely tough and competitive environment, parents must more than ever instil in their children a desire to embrace and celebrate what can be learnt from errors and that underperforming is part of life. “A great wealth of research shows that the value behind something as simple as smiling at your child when they make mistakes has massive psychological benefits.” Steven is more than familiar with the rewards this brings. He has had much experience of standing pitch side at his children’s cricket, football, netball and rugby matches. “I believe part of the reason for my children’s love for sport is the encouragement I give them over anything else. I have always focused on reminding them of the importance about learning from their errors and I believe this has enabled them to really find sports they love and enjoy to play.”

Moving on from this, Steven emphasises that the most significant reason behind playing sport is for pure fun and enjoyment. “At the end of the day we must ensure that our children have great enthusiasm for being active.” Steven argues that the elitist and competitive nature of British sporting culture promotes parents and children to only focus on winning. This he says is awfully damaging for the young person. Sylvester, over the last 20 years has worked with some of the world’s most elite athletes across a variety of sports. What is paradoxical, is that he has found that today, he spends time with athletes helping them return to their original mindset when they began their sport. “By reminding them of their deep love and passion for their sport they stop thinking selfishly (‘I am in the sport to win’) and started operating without ego (‘I play this sport for the pure enjoyment, and how I can use my talent to be more ambassadorial and inspire others’). Therefore, if we focus on demonstrating the fun aspect of sport we will be forever closer to inspiring our children to ‘get off the couch’ and be more active.

Nevertheless, the psychologist claims that there is a slight futility if a child is playing sport without putting the full amount of effort they can into it. “This however is not purely down to the individual child” Steven remarks. “Both parent and child must make a healthy commitment to sport. The child must see the positives in training hard and the parent likewise must support them for a successful and happy relationship to develop, regardless of the child’s ability.” Sport and exercise can truly be used as a way of uniting families, whether that’s mum and dad going to see their sons or daughters local sporting matches or brothers and sisters playing and being active in the garden, putting effort into regularly keeping fit will have massive benefits on the families well rounded health. Sylvester believes that in today’s society, making commitments like this are vital to a healthy lifestyle as it provides both children and their parents with a consistent escape from their everyday stresses. “In my own experience, I have tried to teach my children the values behind exercising consistently and the lifestyle rewards it brings. Perhaps the irony is that now, my eldest son is forever encouraging me to keep up with his relentless fitness programme.” This serves as a perfect example of how proactively putting effort into making a lifestyle commitment to sport has rewarding benefits to family health and togetherness.

Overall, Sylvester promotes that the benefits of listening, smiling, having fun and putting the effort into sport will build up the level of self-regard children have for themselves. “Once they live by these four things they initiate a self fulfilling prophecy,” Steven says. “They now have a desire to be a custodian to other children around them as they enthusiastically show the positive effects of participating in their sport”. Steven highlights that the most significant characteristic that will be born out of following these principles, is that it will develop a child’s willingness to give to others.

“In the battle against a win-at-all-costs culture, encouraging our children to be more selfless is most vital in sustaining a sense of community in our modern society rife with loneliness, isolation and depression.”

He truly believes sport is a perfect medium in which children can learn these values, whilst at the same time improving their health and fitness to battle the ongoing fight with increasing diabetes, obesity, and coronary heart disease.






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Is a big ego crucial to achieving sporting greatness?

_83840084_henry_cantona_ronaldoOne evening in the mid-1990s, Manchester United players and staff attended a Batman film premiere. It was a black-tie event.

United star Eric Cantona had other ideas and arrived wearing an all-white suit finished off with bright red trainers. His team-mates laughed, while manager Sir Alex Ferguson turned a blind eye.

Cantona was a talent with an abundance of self-confidence, but had been a destructive force inside the dressing rooms of his previous clubs in France. He had been known as much for punch-ups with team-mates at Auxerre and Montpellier as his ability with a ball at his feet.

He was perceived as damaged goods in France, but in England he helped Leeds United win the league and after his arrival at Old Trafford in the autumn of 1992, he was afforded the freedom to express his eccentricities because of the example he set on the training ground.

Cantona was one of the first players under Ferguson to spend hours after a session practising the basics on his own. He was humble enough to acknowledge his flaws and, as captain, help the younger players rid themselves of theirs.

But he always maintained a swagger that saw him hold his nerve under pressure to produce moments of match-winning brilliance when his team needed it most, such as the winning goal in the 1996 FA Cup final against Liverpool.

His is a story that prompts an interesting question. While physical gifts and world-class skill are key to the success of sport’s finest athletes, is a big ego – defined in this case as a supreme level of self-confidence – the secret ingredient that elevates good to great?

Mike Forde is a firm believer in the power of ego. He spent eight years as performance director at Bolton Wanderers between 1999 and 2007 and a further six as director of football operations for Chelsea.

His jobs involved travelling the world liaising with sports teams – from the All Blacks to NFL and NBA franchises. His quest was to identify innovations in areas such as psychology, IT, scouting and people management.

The definition of ego
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the ego is defined as “a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance”. The term derives from Latin, literally ‘I’.

Forde told BBC Sport: “If you’re Didier Drogba taking a penalty in the 2012 Champions League final, with 160 million people watching around the world and 60,000 stood in the stadium, you need a high level of confidence and self-belief to perform. That is what we characterise as ego.”

Sports psychologist Bill Beswick, who has worked for Manchester United and England, adds: “Ego is very powerful and can be the driving force behind performance. Ex-Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane had intense self-belief. He maximised his ego to make the absolute best of himself.”

But how do we know the greatest athletes possess this trait? We’ve seen ego manifest itself in Cantona’s upturned collar, while Thierry Henry would often raise his finger to his lips when he scored.  Both were theatrical displays of inner confidence, but in others the same levels of ego are masked.

Confidence coach Martin Perry – whose clients include Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey and golfer Colin Montgomerie – cites the difference between Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Ronaldo is very outwardly confident, whereas Messi comes across as quiet and humble, but both have egos. We know that because of the individual manner in which they play,” he says. “They don’t see risks; they have a bulletproof certainty they’ll produce and when an athlete has that supreme level of confidence, magic can happen.”

West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster often tells a story to youngsters at the club about one of his first training sessions after he joined Manchester United in 2005 that illustrates how ego can dictate success or failure.  Foster moved to Old Trafford from Stoke at 21 and was tipped to become a future England number one.

But as he looked around the dressing room and saw the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney tying up their laces, he was overcome by a lack of self-belief and thought the club might have made a mistake in signing him.

Foster left United five years later having failed to make his mark and has since used a sports psychologist to learn techniques to erase self-doubt.

It’s a story that resonates with Perry: “Ordinary levels of confidence don’t allow you to do extraordinary things; greatness can’t be achieved without it.

“Most magical moments in sport come from a place of supreme self-confidence – these are the moments which last forever and create legacy and legend.”

Ego must be harnessed correctly to ensure an athlete steers clear of controversy and continues to develop.

“We often find in team sports that an athlete doesn’t appreciate the affect he is having on the rest of his team by acting in a certain way, which can cause arguments,” adds Beswick. “Under pressure, athletes can change from ‘we’ to ‘me’. That happens a lot.”

Only four England internationals have scored more Test runs than Kevin Pietersen, but he may never get the chance to write the final chapter of his story now he is in the international wilderness following disputes with members of England’s cricket team.

Prince Naseem Hamed was the world’s best featherweight boxer between 1997 and 2000. But one wonders how much more he could have achieved had he not become lost in the fog of his own hype and cut corners in training, resulting in the only defeat of his career to Marco Antonio Barrera in 2001 and subsequent retirement, aged just 28, in 2002.

Sport psychologist Steven Sylvester, who has worked with England cricketer Moeen Ali, two world champion snooker players and a major-winning golfer, among numerous other athletes, cites the problems caused when a sportsman or sportswoman adopts a selfish approach.

“That mindset is a catastrophe for me,” said Sylvester. “We want athletes to make the right decisions on the pitch under pressure and think how they might benefit their team-mates rather than just themselves. “

As the example of Cantona shows, life experience can manipulate ego over time and provide the catalyst to fuel genius rather than conflict.

Forde adds: “I’ve seen players who were very egotistical or arrogant and then they’d get married or have a baby and you’d see a change in their personality.

“You have to look at an individual sometimes and say ‘we’re going to sign this guy for three years, we know there’s a certain level of risk, but he’s reaching a point in his life where the penny might drop. So are we prepared to take that risk or not?’”

It’s a dilemma Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers faced before opting to sign Mario Balotelli from AC Milan last August following his well-documented problems, although he is still waiting for his investment to pay dividends.

At Bolton and Chelsea, Forde helped to develop an ethos that saw both clubs pursue what he calls “big ego talent”.

The likes of Juan Mata and Eden Hazard arrived at Stamford Bridge during his tenure, while Nigeria legend Jay-Jay Okocha, Spain’s fourth highest-ever goalscorer Fernando Hierro and France World Cup winner Youri Djorkaeff were signed by the Trotters.

His policy at Bolton was one that went against conventional wisdom. Okocha, Hierro and Djorkaeff were all in their thirties and past their physical peak, with no sell-on value, but crucially they all had one thing in common.

“The key isn’t to dispose of big egos. The real question is: is that ego manageable? Is it coachable? Are they humble enough to continue to learn?” explained Forde.

“I remember having dinner with Fernando Hierro. He was 35 at the time, had played 90 times for Spain and won the Champions League twice. I asked him ‘what’s been the highlight of your career?’ He put his knife and fork down and looked at me and said ‘I haven’t had it yet’.”

When talent and ego are in perfect symmetry, a player can make the leap from good to great.  Forde uses a formula – (ego + coachability) x learning culture – with high-performing teams and individuals to help them maximise their talent.

“The equation shows that ego is the foundation of greatness but only if it is still open to being coached and criticised and there’s a structure in place to help them grow,” he said.

It is an equation that explains the success and longevity of some top sports stars.

“I look at Frank Lampard, that’s why he’s playing at the age of 37, then you go into North America, a LeBron James of the NBA or a Tom Brady at the New England Patriots or a Derek Jeter at the New York Yankees.

“The ego is in place to give them the confidence to perform on the biggest stage and then there’s coachability and this intrinsic DNA that gives them the desire to be the best version of themselves.

“If that’s in place, greatness can appear.”

Great article written by Alec Fenn – Football Writer from BBC Sport.

Thanks Alec








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The Power of Pain

What happens when a cricketer gets injured in the midst of a match? They become very dangerous, says Nick Campion writing for All Out Cricket Magazine.

Ian Botham crouched down, spat out a mouthful of teeth and blood. The blood continued to flow, and no wonder. Botham had just been hit in the face by an Andy Roberts bouncer. It was June 1974, and an unknown 18-year-old was playing for Somerset against Hampshire in the quarter-finals of the Benson & Hedges Cup.

Hampshire had been bowled out for 182 and Somerset were struggling at 131-8 in reply. Botham had come out to bat at No.9 but thanks to the impromptu dental work, the game seemed to be up. But the young allrounder refused to go off. Continuing to spit out blood, he faced up to Roberts again, took three off a yorker next ball and went on to shepherd the tail through to a famous one-wicket win. Botham was Man of the Match. “As I look back on it,” he recalled later, “hitting me in the mouth was the worst thing Andy could have done. It seemed to relax me. It made me all the keener.”

Botham BatsCricket is littered with incidents where an injury to a player transforms a performance and even a match. There was Denis Compton in 1947 against Australia, top-edging a Ray Lindwall bouncer into his head, resuming his innings a short while later with England in trouble and going on to get a ton.

There was the 1977 Centenary Test in Melbourne, where Australian opener Rick McCosker had his jaw broken by a Bob Willis bouncer in the first innings. On release from hospital two days later, face wired up and bandaged, he came out helmetless at No.10 for the second innings. He made 25, putting on 54 for the ninth wicket with Rod Marsh. Australia won by 45 runs.

And so it goes on – Robin Smith’s jaw, Gordon Greenidge’s back, Anil Kumble’s jaw, Malcolm Marshall’s arm… but why is it that so many famously defiant and brilliant performances even happened? These people were injured, were physically disadvantaged. Surely their effectiveness should have been nullified by the injury?

This is to ignore the most important part of the body – 
the bit between the ears. Steve Sylvester is a chartered psychologist, former first-class cricketer, Level 3 coach and founder of the ‘withoutEGO’ philosophy. He has worked with scores of elite sportsmen, including many cricketers. He says it’s all down to the change in mindset that an injury forces on a player.

3rd Test Match - England v West Indies“Professional sportspeople have to be totally self-absorbed. For a cricketer, playing cricket is their livelihood, they are paid to perform so that is what they must do every single day. They are being watched all the time, assessed, judged and expected to perform. But all these pressures can actually kill performance. What an injury does is influence a player in a way that is beyond their control and consequently frees them from their self-absorption. With the pressure of expectation taken off them, the player starts to think, ‘What could I still manage to do for my team?’ He moves from selfish to selfless in a moment. The pressure is off and he is able to express himself.

“It becomes one of those rare opportunities for a professional cricketer to play for the reason he started playing in the first place – for pleasure. Everything becomes simpler, slowed down. The player starts to look around, take it all in, enjoy it. The elite player still has his skills and his knowledge, and this calm state of mind allows him to make the very best of the ability he has.

“Getting sportspeople to this state of mind – but without the injury – is the very essence of my mission. When you are happy, you are free. When you’re free, you will play without the burdens of expectation and pressure.”

Here’s what Steve Waugh said in 2001 when he famously scored a remarkable hundred at the Oval with a torn calf: “Sometimes you play your best cricket when you have a niggle or something’s not quite right. When I got to 20 or 30 I thought I’d better play some shots because I wasn’t much value running between the wickets and it was good fun – it was like being 19 or 20 years old again.”

The injury is the trigger to think differently. It reshapes
 the way a player sees the game. It becomes uncomplicated, liberating and fun. “I’ve worked with 10 world champions over the last 15 years,” Sylvester says. “They enter a zone that few people can reach. They actually let go of thinking about winning altogether.”

The injured player also has an effect on his teammates. Sylvester believes the galvanising effect of injuries can be felt every day in county cricket: “It tends to be the bowlers who go the extra mile, constantly bowling with niggles and pains. Their teammates see the effort it takes to get on the field of play and to bowl through the pain, and it raises their morale.”

It’s not just the bowlers. In the fourth Test of the 1932/33 Bodyline tour of Australia, England’s Eddie Paynter 
was taken to hospital in Brisbane with tonsillitis and a temperature of over 102°F. With England struggling in their first innings at 216-6 he climbed from his hospital bed, returned to the ground in his pyjamas, changed into his whites, refused a runner and batted, sweated and trembled in the Brisbane heat for 90 minutes. Not out at the close, he went back to his hospital bed. Returning to the crease next morning, he batted for four hours to make 83. In a series marked by its hostility, he was clapped off by fielders and spectators alike. He even fielded for a couple of hours before returning to hospital. England were able to manufacture a 16-run lead on first innings and it was Paynter himself who hit the winning six in the second innings to finish the game. Who could argue against this courage being anything but an inspiration to his teammates?

So don’t panic next time Joe Root takes a blow to the elbow, Jimmy Anderson gets the flu or Jos Buttler starts stretching a dodgy hammy. The best could yet be to come.

Read Nick Campion’s article on-line here at http://www.alloutcricket.com/cricket/features/the-power-of-pain#wVJhMRr23hs4BJCi.99

Follow Nick Campion here @NickScribbler

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