How to “do a Leicester”

Recently I interviewed Mr Ken Way, performance psychologist to Leicester City FC, who went from the bottom of the league table to the top in 2016.

If you want to know the top 4 things he wishes he could get his players and coaching staff do more consistently, keep reading.

Do the Flip – when your monkey mind starts thinking negative thoughts, consciously flip to positive. So many of us dwell on negative thoughts, our minds are like velcro for things that have gone wrong and Teflon for the good stuff. Ken says the great performers can flip to positive, replacement thoughts when they notice themselves dwelling on the negative.  He suggests asking your self, “What have I learned and What’s good about this situation?” Rather than “What went wrong or who’s to blame?”

Detach from the outcome – The players in Leicester didn’t focus on winning the league, they got on with that days training programme. They didn’t obsess about the end result, they didn’t look at performance goals but worked in a disciplined way towards process goals i.e. what they needed to do that day in that training session. Once you have set your intention, just get on with the job in hand and forget about the huge goal months down the line.

Optimism is catching – As contagious diseases go optimism is a good one to catch. He drilled the players to notice if they were feeling down, not make too much of it, he encouraged them to share good news and feelings and if they were feeling negative, he spotted it and nipped it in the bud. Interestngly, he commented that the players didn’t want negativity in the dressing room and would avoid players who were not upbeat and being positive.

Failing forwards – One of my personal favorites this one, if we aren’t failing, we aren’t learning. He encouraged a culture of well-intentioned mistakes. As the renowned basketball legend, Micheal Jordan, puts it

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

So, as a team they were not frightened of failure, to take risks, in order to grow and to learn.

I think we can all learn from these points, we don’t have to be professional footballers we can be at work, with our families, or in our communities and we would do well to adopt these principles.