Wednesday 16 September 2015

Escape the Bubble

In a few days’ time the Rugby World Cup will be hosted for the first time in England, bringing with it the eyes of the world and a rare chance for those at the top of their game to achieve the ultimate success in their field. What better place to mount a challenge for the Webb Ellis trophy than on home soil. It is easy to assume that home crowds mean a guaranteed advantage for England – familiar surroundings, thousands of passionate supporters and the pride of hosting should make the likes of Chris Robshaw, Ben Youngs and George Ford stand that little bit taller.

However, the relentless attention and high expectations that this also brings adds unparalleled pressure, to an already career-defining event. As Dan Cole said recently in an interview, it is crucial in terms of mental preparation, to escape the ‘World Cup bubble’. For the England rugby team, taking part in regular relaxation periods is as crucial to success as the physical delivery of performance.

With the Rugby World Cup looming ever closer, perhaps there is a message here to apply in the workplace. The World Cup squad will find themselves swamped with attention, expectation and added responsibility from not only the management team, but from the millions of fans willing them to glory. They have to achieve an incredibly difficult objective, made all the more challenging by external pressure. This is no different to a scenario that most of us find ourselves in at some point in our working lives. We all have deadlines and objectives, which should always be there to push you (if they don’t then you need a tougher target) with the added pressure of expectation from your employer or Senior Management Team.

If we allow ourselves to become entangled in the pursuit of these objectives, they will become overwhelming, stressful and all-consuming to your lifestyle; to the point where our performance levels and ability to achieve the outlined objective is compromised. It’s a negative spiral and an inevitable road to failure, so how can this be avoided? Your target and the process of achieving it is your own personal ‘world cup’, and the ability to walk away from it and mentally switch off is vital to success.

Set yourself smaller targets and implement time constraints for each one, so that you feel justified in walking away from the desk and enjoying some recreational time with your family and friends. The next time you sit at that desk, your frame of mind will be positive and relaxed, two imperatives of working productively.

Escape the bubble of pressure and expectation once in a while, and perhaps you too could be a world champion in your field.