Steven Sylvester becomes Middlesex CCC Team Psychologist

Middlesex County Cricket Club is delighted to announce the appointment of Steven Sylvester into the role of Team Psychologist for Middlesex CCC.CgAdTL6XEAAcUEF

Steven Sylvester is a familiar face at Lord’s having previously logo@2xbeen the Club’s psychologist between 2010 and 2013. His strong ties with Middlesex CCC began in the early 90’s when he played a handful of games for Middlesex as a left arm bowler. The new two and a half year deal means that he will be looking after this area of the Club until at least the end of the 2018 county season.

Angus Fraser, the Managing Director of Cricket at Middlesex CCC, and ex-teammate of Steven, said: “Having Steven back involved is great news for everyone at the Club. During his previous stint here he was extremely popular with the players and support staff.JS61010570

“The modern game, which involves high levels of expectation, low tolerance and the ability of anybody to have a view on how well someone performs places current players under greater stress than when I was young. To combat this you need to employ good people and Steven is very good at his job. He has his own way of doing things, which is something I enjoy.

“Steven’s role will once again cover the development and care of both individuals and the team. He brings energy and experience to the position. Steven will challenge every member of Middlesex’s staff to be better at what they do and to be totally committed to the cause of the team.”

Steven is a Chartered Psychologist & Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, and he currently holds large influence in the world of psychology. He has developed a unique Leadership philosophy from working over the past 20 years with elite teams and World Champions.IMG_0653

This recently captivated a wide audience when he published his book ‘DETOX YOUR EGO’ in January. Within the book he explains his Leadership withoutEGO model, which aims to take individuals on a journey of self-discovery in order to increase, health happiness and purpose in life. He also talks about his days as a young professional cricketer at Lords and the huge influence the experience had on him.

Commenting on his appointment Sylvester said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing success of Middlesex CCC by developing a psychology program to promote performance excellence and enhance psychological wellbeing throughout the season.”

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Ben Stokes backed to recover from West Indies final over heartache

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excerpt from Nick Hoults article in The Telegraph 5th April 2016

Alastair Cook, the England Test captain, said he had never felt as much sympathy for aengland_players_west_indies_t20-large_trans++qVzuuqpFlyLIwiB6NTmJwfSVWeZ_vEN7c6bHu2jJnT8 bowler as he did for Stokes after Sunday’s final, while friends of the all-rounder believe the ups and downs he has already experienced will help him cope with this disappointment. Stokes has been toughened by being sent home in disgrace from an A-team tour for excessive drinking and the embarrassment of missing the last World Twenty20 after fracturing a hand punching a locker following a string of ducks.

He was left out of last year’s 50-over World Cup in Australia but bounced back by


smashing the fastest ever Test hundred at Lord’s in his next match for England.

It will be natural for Stokes to replay in his mind whether he should have bowled a different delivery or changed his pace rather than stuck to his leg-stump yorker line to Brathwaite.

When Chris Jordan bowled the penultimate over he took his time before every delivery to gather his thoughts and emotions. Stokes was quickly into his delivery stride and relied on the yorker that had served him well in previous games, a sign of high stress according to Steven Sylvester, a former county cricketer but now a leading sports psychologist who has worked with England players including Moeen Ali.

“After the first one went for six and then you get hit for another six like that in the context of a World Cup final your emotions are raging and that influences your rhythm,” he told  Telegraph Sport. “Unfortunately, it is very hard then to keep calm in that situation. In fact, it is impossible. But what you have to do is embrace that feeling and maybe slow things down. One of the signs of stress is that you just keep going and going.”

Would it help Stokes if he embraces playing his part in such a memorable moment? ThatUntitled-2-large_trans++2oUEflmHZZHjcYuvN_Gr-bVmXC2g6irFbtWDjolSHWgwas the view of David Lloyd, the commentator, in the immediate aftermath of the match, and Sylvester agrees.

“I would be saying to Stokes there is no shame in being part of someone doing something
special and impressing upon him he was part of something unbelievable.

“I do a lot of work in football and I have had three managers ring me today and say it was unbelievable. It captivated the sporting world, it will inspire young kids to take up the game.

“We tend not to have perspective because we want England to win and it is hard and painful but the only option is to embrace it. He has to accept it is a reason to become better as a cricketer and human being. With the right support I don’t see any problems with him bouncing back and doing really well.”

 

Click link for full article from Nick Hoult in The Telegraph

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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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