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Hello, I'm Fern Cotton, and this is a happy place, it's a podcast, and if this is your first podcast, welcome, welcome. You couldn't have picked a better one to start with. Get your earphones and get your hands and feet busy. And let's take a deep dive with one of the most admired people in the public eye at the moment. It's England manager Gareth Southgate. You know, we'll get criticized for the way the team play.
And I have a choice. Either crumble and think, oh, well, actually, I walk away from it and somebody else can do it. Or you say, no, actually, this is a privilege to be in this position. We've got the opportunity to make history. We've got the opportunity to do things that nobody's ever done.
So I'm going to go for it.
Gareth's leadership is an inspiration not just to the young players he manages, but so many others across the country. And not only that, he's an ambassador for the Prince's Trust. And it's in that role that he's written a book called Anything is Possible. Be brave, be kind and follow your dreams. What a beautiful title. We're going to be delving into that together, I promise you.
But before we get to that, a huge thank you to the gorgeous sponsors of this series.
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And now the show recorded back in October before the new lock down restrictions started in England. His England manager, Gareth Southgate on Happy Place. Yes.
Hi, Gareth. Hi, Fern, how are you doing? I'm good, how are you? Yeah, very good, thank you. Um, when I was making some notes for this talk earlier this week, I discovered we have the same birthday.
I did have a little look myself yet a third of September.
So are you, like me, organized or punctual for staff? And I like things done a certain way. Generally speaking, yeah.
Generally speaking, yeah. I know there's lots of goldreich that I'm guilty of. That's definitely the case. Quite thoughtful, quite methodical. And sometimes that's quite a shift to the day job where you've got to be a little bit quicker on your decision making and not not always able to have the time to think some of those things through. So, yeah, it's fascinating how many of those sort of horoscope traits I think are quite true.
Amazing whether you believe that sort of stuff or not. You can I think, especially with Vergos, often you look and you think, oh, my God, I literally take every one of those boxes and my husband will testify for that for sure.
Congratulations on your book, which I was lucky enough to get an early copy of and so enjoyed reading. Anything is possible. Be brave, be kind and follow your dreams. Obviously we're we're living through such a very strange time. Was was the sole purpose of this book to give people a bit of hope at the moment? Well, I'm very conscious that in the job I do, I do have the ability to connect perhaps with the wider audience and in particularly with young people, and having lived that journey, having had children who are going through through that journey of growing up, teenage years in particular, life's always complicated for young people.
And there's no question at the moment that it's more complicated than ever and more uncertain. And I think very often when I look back at my life, I thought I was the only one having some of these experiences. And I'd look around the dressing room that I thought was full of super confident young boys or young men. And actually that isn't the case and it wasn't the case. Some people were better at hiding their insecurities than others, but I think everybody had them.
And I think the journey of going through life and learning and coming through all these challenges, there are so many similarities that perhaps people don't realize. So I just felt there was an opportunity. I actually started to work on this during the original lockdown. And yet the more I talked through my own life story and my own experiences, I felt it could apply not only to kids who want to be footballers, but any walk of life, really. And and this idea that anything is possible, because I really believe that to be the case.
I know the journey I went on then has been on. And whatever you want in life, there is a way to get there if you're patient and resilient and prepared to recover from the setbacks. So that's it.
And you're so generous in the Birken offering up those moments that you have found difficult throughout your life, you know. Right.
From being a teenager yourself up into the present day to demonstrate that, you know, someone like yourself who is, you know, respected, revered, brilliant career and huge success, has has had to experience so many setbacks to to learn to gain that wisdom, to get you to where you are today, which I think is is invaluable when you don't shy away from talking about those tough moments.
Do you think that that's perhaps an important part of making peace with your you're tough at times is is to, in fact, share them and just talk about them openly. I think so. I don't think that men in particular are very good at doing that. I think there's always been an assumption that you've got to tough it out. You've got to be seen to be strong. And actually, I think the more confident you are, the more open you're prepared to be and the more vulnerability you're prepared to show.
I know there's still a load of things that I need to get better at. I want to get better at lots of things I haven't achieved yet that I want to achieve. But I'm less worried about talking about that now than I was when I was younger. I thought that show of vulnerability would be held against me. And again, I suppose it's something that age and confidence and experience gives you that not only do I know what I know myself very well and I'm comfortable with myself strengths and weaknesses, but I also can see that in other people and the opportunity to help them is something that as a coach, I really enjoy.
Yeah, that's it was extremely valuable, especially in the position you're in today, to have that sort of wisdom and experience and also inner peace to know that you're accepting of the best, you know, like you said, your strengths and your weaknesses. And you start off in the book talking about the Euro 96 penalty shootout and and the the sort of heaviness that that brought to your life. And and you offer up something that none of us could have known in the moment.
And that's that, you know, as you approach that situation, you had started to worry about what could go wrong rather than what you're actually in control of. So what was cognitively going on for you as you approached the ball?
I think it's it's part of, in that instance, a slight lack of preparation. And that's no criticism of anybody else. That's just where we were a penalty. Shootouts weren't something that were a regular part of the game. We're going back 30 years now. Almost every competition has won at the end of 90 minutes. So I wasn't confident in my technique and I wasn't confident going through that process. Football is very much a team game, and if I was any good at scoring, I wouldn't play at the back.
Played for twenty five years. So immediately you're in a situation that you're not as confident of. And then in what is a team environment, you're suddenly the center of attention with ninety thousand people just looking at the walk from the centre circle to the penalty spot. And it's easy then to for the brain to take you into the things that you can't control just because you haven't been through that process before or hadn't thought or work through that process. And so by the time I got to the ball just to get it on target would have been an achievement in itself because the psychological then effects the physical movements and everything else.
And I mean, it took me a long time to be able to really go through all of this and to break it down into those processes and to be, I suppose, honest enough to admit to myself what what I'd been through in that situation. But it definitely allowed me to have helped me to prepare the team or to work through what the team needed to be prepared for when I been the manager. And then, of course, the what happened to me after it broadened my perspective on life completely, because as a sportsman, very often you've got a very narrow perspective and you think that your whole being depends on winning a game on a Saturday.
And actually that is. But until you have children, until you experience other things in your life, you have to have that really narrow focus probably to to to be a professional. But I think you're a better professional and a better person once you're able to broaden out that perspective.
Yeah, because, of course, you know, you're under such an immense amount of pressure and and in any sort of high level sporting game or you know, I've spoke to Jessica Ennis about this.
You know, there's there's an element of perfection that you that you want and that you almost have to have if you want to be the best. And there's so few things in life where perfection is needed, but in sports, it really is. And that puts so much pressure on you. And then, you know, to deal with that, not turning out how you'd hoped. And you talk about this in the book really eloquently about that happiness and you felt that you'd let everybody down.
And that took a long period of sort of healing and recovery after that.
How how did that experience in that period affect your your mental health?
Yeah, that's a really good question, because I don't think I viewed it in that way at the time. I knew I was struggling in terms of confidence whenever I went back and played with England because the people I felt. Most of the other players and the other staff, some of whom it was their last opportunity to win something, so although I had another chance to go back and play and like my career, I still had another 10 years ahead of me.
Some of those guys that that was their moment. That was the opportunity to win something with England, which we've only ever done once as a nation, ever. So I think I hear the military guys talk about this. Yes, they fight for queen and country, but they fight first and foremost to the person alongside them because they know they've got their back at the most difficult time and that that's where the bond is strongest. And so I felt that very heavily that I'd let down those that worked so hard with me.
But then, of course, you have got this broader thing of walking down the street and lads poking their heads out of the van and shouting at you. And and that's quite hard to take. You go to every away ground and the fans are chanting. And of course, that that's quite an ordeal. And although I wanted to battle against that and prove that I could play against them it inside, that, of course, hurting you. And because part of playing for the national team is that you represent all of those people.
So when you play for your country, they're all with you. Now you can see the feeling of negativity against you, and that's that's difficult to take. So it took me a long time. A couple of times I saw sports psychologists that wasn't prevalent in our sport at that time. I think it's an underused resource. I think other sports use that power of the mind in a much more positive way than in football. I think people like tennis players, golfers have done that for years.
So I had to kind of find my own way, really. I think some things just take time to heal and you have to work out your own way through it. But my worry would be that actually there is support there for young people. There are setbacks that they're going to suffer. There is rejection from it. For example, any talent pathway, if you're an actor, if you're a dancer, if you're a musician, rejection is going to be part of your journey.
And that is the resilience to come back from that will determine success. But it's not always easy to be able to work that out yourself. And I think the more you can talk to other people about it, the better.
And, you know, you touched on this a moment ago. You know, what did you gain from that experience to, I guess, age you in your role today as manager, but also outside of football, just in your life?
You know, what did that experience give you?
Well, definitely perspective. Some of the letters I had, although the negative comments always register more prominently in your mind. Yeah, they were far outweighed by the positive letters and messages that I received. And there were people who had suffered massive events in their life, loss of really close family, people who had disabled children, people who'd lost their jobs, a guy who was in jail, although he partly blamed me for getting arrested because he was writing on the night that was the penalty.
So although I was up to give you a little bit more to worry about, so I'm prepared to take responsibility for a lot of things.
But not that. But so but those things gave you perspective. Look, hang on. In the end, ultimately, this is a game of football, and I desperately wanted it to go well. And my whole life has been sadly devoted to winning games of football, which is really of no importance. But it has a chance to change other people's lives. And professionally, you want it to be the best. You want it to be perfect. So that perspective was the thing.
And I think the pandemic gave us that. There were some brilliant stories of, yeah, some of our young players doing some amazing things because the reality was our ability is football people was of no use to anybody, frankly, you know, football, although it maybe gave people a lift when it came back, it was nowhere near as important as the the NHS workers, the people that were clearing the bins, the shopkeepers, everybody that really came to prominence in that time.
That was the reality of the people that we need in our lives. And football is a glorious distraction, but it isn't actually as important as any of those things.
Well, like you say, it is such a unifying and joyful experience for so many people.
As I live with a, well, three Chelsea fans, my stepson, my son and my husband, I grew up with a couple household as a kid myself, my dad. Brother, you know, all obsessed with watching TV. It was their absolute lives and, you know, the same with the the males in my house today.
But the flipside of that joy and and that beautiful unity is, of course, that it can be such a harsh industry and a critical industry and a really mean spirited industry. You know, where that comes from, the fans or the commentators there? It does seem to be particularly harsh still. How how have you cope with that over the years?
Well, I think it's tough without any external voices because the journey of becoming a player, going through those rejections, battling back from injuries, battling back from defeats, that that anyway, takes you on a real rollercoaster of emotional energy and events that you have to overcome. I think where it's changed now for players today is is this element of social media and this incredible negativity that exists. We always had the newspapers and everybody always used to take a sort of an unbalanced input from whatever a newspaper journalist wrote.
But now the emotion. If you follow the game on Twitter, for example, through the 90 minutes, goodness, the journey of that from people becoming a hero to zero to zero just 90 minutes is all so emotive. And and generally speaking, social media isn't the place to go for balance or perspective. So so I do worry about young players in particular.
And that's not only in football, it's young people across the board. You home used to be somewhere that was safe. You could maybe at school and you were bullied. But when you went home, generally speaking, of course, some people had difficult backgrounds. But generally speaking, if you were bullied at school, you came home. That was safe. Now you can be attacked in your own home. Yes, through social media. And I do worry about that for young people in that I think there's a bigger challenge around their mental wellbeing and looking after them than we've ever had before.
And does that now come into your role as a manager? Is that something you've had to, you know, this new wave and generation of football players and a new responsibility for them? And there is a dialogue that you have to keep going with your team.
I definitely speak to them about it, and of course, what I don't want to be is the the miserable old bugger who says, oh, social media, I don't understand it. Well, you know, I'm fully aware of all of it. My kids are twenty one and eighteen, so and I think I'm young enough to have engaged in all those areas, but I don't go there any time when we've got matches coming up because I know it's going to fill my head with negative or confusional.
But I know that my young players will definitely be following that more closely. And in some ways they use it brilliantly to interact with supporters to make a difference in society as they have done in the last few months. But there's also this other element of if they're scrolling through immediately after a game when they're quite vulnerable anyway, then it can take them to a really bad place in terms of their confidence and in their self-esteem. And I think that I can see that replicated in other walks of life as well.
Oh, without doubt it is.
I think for so many people, it's such a huge problem. If you start to actually take seriously what you're reading, seeing, viewing, imbibing within that world, it gets it gets really tricky.
And I can't imagine it on the level that that your players are having to deal with.
And, um, and I guess there have been so many changes over the years with with how the whole football world works.
Because when you were growing up as a young player, you talk about when you were a youth player for Crystal Palace Youth in the book. And if you played badly, you'd get such a bollocking from the manager. And, you know, it's not a particularly nice way. And I'm I'm imagining that that I mean, it might still happen with some teams, but with you certainly not. You can tell that you've got that respect from your team, but you're not ruling by fear.
So how do you gain the respect of lots of young people who have got their own independent mind, you know, their own skills? How how do you gain that respect without, you know, just using fear and, you know, having a big tongue, etc.?
Yeah, yeah. I think there are times for that, by the way. So I but I think that's very rare. I think when we were growing up, the boss was the boss and nobody questioned in any if you were in the factory, if you were in a school, if you nobody questioned authority, really, you just did what you were told. And if you were told to run faster and faster. And now if we're talking to young people and you say we think you should eat this for dinner, they want to know, will you hang on a minute?
Why is it being produced? Is it has it been ethically grown? What are the benefits? What am I missing out on? And and rightly so. What why why shouldn't they ask all of those questions? And it's challenging for us as leaders, because we then have to have the knowledge and have the answers to those questions. But I think that's entirely fair if we're asking people to play in a certain way to train in a certain way, to prepare in a certain way, if we can't provide them with a good rationale for doing that and that we think it's going to make them better and it will make the team better, then I think the days are gone where they'll just be prepared to run, as far as you say, because you've told them to.
And I think young people grow up with that mindset. I think they'll research things more if you have an injury. When I was injured, I did what the physio told me. I didn't really know until I was older whether that was right from my body. Now, whether or not, you know, as soon as you've got a sniffle, blimey, we're going to have an injury today.
So I think they're exposed. Young people are exposed to more information. Yeah, they have a clearer idea. They're more prepared to challenge. And actually, I don't mind that. I think it's done in the right way. And it's not as if the approach is right. Then I do think the days have gone where a purely aggressive, demanding style of communication I don't see that works. I think there are moments where actually, if you're not that way every day, it's more powerful to make a point at times because there are times you've got to make points quickly and directly.
And I think people then jump a little bit harder because it's a surprise. So I think you have to have a balance with those things.
It sounds to me a bit like parenting in this house, to be honest. If you got any similarities, I'm drawing here.
And where have you got that confidence from to to be a leader? Did you always know that you had those sorts of leadership skills?
Because it requires, you know, so much honesty, perhaps confrontation at times. Delegation, it's. Time's a huge amount of responsibility. Where where does that confidence come from? Well, I think experience basically nobody really talked to me as a young player about being a leader specifically. I think we try and do that a little bit more with our players and we try and make them more aware of because people immediately assume you've got to be vocal or you've got to be the loudest to be the leader.
And that's not necessarily the case. Some of our players will lead by just being really responsible, by taking the ball on the pitch when there's real pressure on. So it doesn't have to be the biggest organizer. But there is something important for groups and for teams about having good communicators within them and people who are bold enough to to speak up in front of a group. I mean, that's quite an ordeal, the very nature of us as human beings.
If if you're in front of a school, it was always clear that the teacher's pet or you're being busy or whatever it might be to speak up was was deemed negatively, really. Whereas in a team you need those people. You need people to step forward and be prepared to speak. Because actually, if we're not aware of what everybody's thinking and and they may have better ideas than we have about how to progress, then we're missing an opportunity to improve.
So it's quite a brave thing for young people in particular to do, I think. Talk about it in the book, you know, to put your hand up and to speak in front of the class. Is it difficult thing? But once you've done it a few times, you do gain confidence and you realize that, OK, there might be a little bit of stick from friends, but so what? It's better to look back on life. And what's the phrase if you ask a question, you're a fool for 30 seconds.
If you don't ask, you can be a fool forever. And I think that's very true.
No, it isn't. And, you know, you do talk about bravery a lot in the book, which which I love because bravery is often seen as something like the sort of old fashioned way of looking at bravery, you know, sort of perhaps more masculine or macho way of looking at bravery.
And like you say, actually something as simple as putting your hand up and asking a question requires so much bravery and essentially vulnerability because you're putting yourself out there to experience whatever that comeback is. And that doesn't feel comfortable in any sense. And and you and you touch on the book on comfort zones and and looking at, you know, you know, whether it is bravery or following your dreams and that, you know, that isn't a whimsical thing. Just follow your dreams and and it all come true.
You know, it does require resilience and and and stepping outside of your comfort zones and something I often think about myself within my own sort of little career and stuff that I'm doing here is, you know, how far do I push myself?
How far should I step out of my comfort zone? When is the slight discomfort too much? When should I pull back? When should I maybe even give up on something? And I wonder, over the years, looking back at your life and your career, what your barometer is on that, of how, you know, when when you've pushed it too far and you should stop or pull back.
Well, really good question, I think. I think you will always make mistakes in the area. So, for example, I could easily at the end of our matches, they sort of think, well, actually, now's not a good time to do a load of interviews for books, because people will just say, well, get on with the day job and get the team winning. And but actually that that would be a very safe way of doing things.
And as the national team manager, you've got a chance to make a difference, not just with the football. And if I was younger, I would have probably backed away from those things and I would have said, oh, no, I must be seen to be 100 percent focused on on the team and nothing else in my life. But that's not realistic. If I think about the team every second of every day and it's not far off that I.
But but but I would go absolutely mad and there'd be no there'd be no broader perspective where you can add something else to society. And I'd feel that's a missed opportunity. But definitely I won't get all those things right. And I guess what I don't do now is beat myself up. If I make some of those decisions in the wrong way, I'll reflect. It's a bit we said earlier about speaking up in front of a group. We've all done it.
And so I've got that rolling one idea and that'll be that'll be thinking that we need to be it. Why didn't I just sit there and say nothing? But I think as you get older, you're less worried about those things that go wrong. And so it's quite liberating, really. I think there's moments when you're really young, when you don't think about those things and it's so beautiful and pure that, you know, a young dancer could go and dance and not worry about foot football and really express themselves.
And and then I think you go through a middle part of your life where you're so worried about approval from others that you inhibits you doing some of the things that you should do. And as you get older, you think, well, stuff, I might have another few years. So that's correct.
And again, you talk about that exact thing in the book about, you know, and I can certainly think back to when I was a teenager starting out in this industry and experiencing that that you did. I didn't think about what might go wrong. I was just sort of ploughing on, having this great sort of adventure. And and you talk about when you were an apprentice at Crystal Palace and your coach at the time, it very harshly said to you that you should go and become a travel agent.
But for some somehow I don't know what was going on for you during this time mentally, but you were able to listen to the your inner voice, your intuition, whatever you want to call it, to not go and do that, to not give up your dream and to continue to be on the trajectory that you're on today. So so how how did you manage that? Was that just having youth on your side and being able to just sort of plough on regardless of what anyone was saying?
Well, I wonder whether there are some genetic things that we have in terms of how our brains work, because I'm conscious that not everybody can go immediately towards a challenge mindset at that moment. And some people dip into the negative a little bit more quickly. And I think that's where it's so important to to speak to other people and to to have people to help coaches or move through those moments. My mindset has almost always been right. Well, I'm going to prove that person wrong and that that's still the same today.
We'll get criticized for the way the team play. And I have a choice, either crumble and say, oh, well, actually, I'll walk away from it and somebody else can do it. Or you say, no, actually, this is a privilege to be in this position. We've got the opportunity to make history. We've got the opportunity to do things that nobody's ever done. So I'm going to go for it and I'll I'll just keep improving.
And when it goes wrong, we'll learn from it and we'll we'll get better from getting things wrong. And I often say to the players, if if they're not making mistakes on the pitch, then we're probably not trying hard enough because they're they're playing within themselves. And I don't expect it to be perfect perfection. We're always seeking, but it hardly ever happens. It's good to strive for that. But if if we're actually comfortable and we're not pushing ourselves, then that's probably a bigger crime than really going for it.
Yeah. So that's actually just a matter of perception, isn't it? Because like you said there, you know, when you were dealt a harsh comment like that, you you switched into I don't know what you just call it that like challenge mode or something where you go. Right. I'm going to challenge that person, that theory, that opinion.
And maybe that is down to genetics. You know, I've not really looked into that enough to know, but I think that is a really interesting thing to consider because we can all be so dead ended or flawed by people saying things to us, telling us we're not capable of things, that we can't do things. And I guess it's in that moment that it really counts, that we have to, you know, try and change the perception and slip into challenge.
That's a really cool way of thinking about, I think.
Well, I'm quite conscious that I have to make selection decisions, and so we have a squad of twenty three and immediately I name the team in 12 are disappointed. So we've got more unhappy players than happy. But I'm what I try to make clear is that this is a decision on one moment in time and it's one person's opinion. So this doesn't mean that you're a poor player or even that you're not as good as some of the other players that we think this is the best way for go to go for this game.
But we could have that wrong. And there'll be lots of young players who've been released by clubs who then has gone back, you know, sort of regenerated themselves and come back and become professional somewhere else because maybe they didn't quite fit at that time. Maybe one coach had a different idea on how he wanted to play. And I think in life there'll be I'm sure in your career and there have been people who turned you down float's programs.
And at that moment you may be what they were looking for. And they'll look back potentially now and go, oh, we might have got that wrong, but maybe not.
But I do think those rejections are part of what makes us and help us to you know, we get to a certain point. We're guiding others and helping others on this journey, whether that's as a parent or as a teacher or as a coach. I think that's even more fulfilling, which I didn't think it would be when I stopped playing. I didn't think anything would be as fulfilling as playing. But I now see a broader opportunity out there.
When you're talking about rejection, you mentioned something really important in the book, which is something that none of us like talking about, but all of us will have experienced. And that's humiliation. And like you just saying that, yes, I have been most definitely turned down sacked or I think in TV they say we've let you go.
Sounds very sort of generous. Offer them, but isn't particularly. But it's happened is how many times do I think there'll be so many people out there who have experienced it? And you talk about having experienced the feeling of humiliation in your own career. And I and I wonder what your coping mechanisms have been to get through that, because it's one of the sort of uglier feelings.
It's really it feels really heavy and it feels just like you can't actually move on from it at times, from my own personal experience that you feel quite stuck in it. And I wonder what your coping mechanisms have been.
Yeah, I think so. I was manager at Middlesborough, I was quite a young manager and eventually in football management is probably fairly certain at some point you'll get the sack. So that is almost a given. But when it happens the first time, it's such a blow because you're not sure if this is going to affect any future career that you might have.
This might this might be it. Maybe I get another opportunity because you feel other people will see you as scarred by the experience. So they'll they'll feel you're a failure. And I think there's a lot of soul searching. There's definitely you lose confidence in yourself because you're not certain as a young coach, especially if you think you're doing the right things, but you don't necessarily have the evidence of results to say we're on the right line here with a lot of what we were doing was was right.
And I think without doubt, there were days where, you know, I call it. Do you do you think actually this is more comfortable? I'd rather not even get out of bed at the moment and face the outside world. And because, of course, if you're in a high profile role, the failure is even more high profile. You the postman has to go speak to the person. You drop the kids at school, you're in the playground with all the other parents.
You're those day to day things that most people's lives nobody would have a clue what was going on. But if you are in a high profile profession, then those difficult moments are there for an exposed for everybody to see. And it's another layer to have to deal with. So and you think about the impact on your kids and how am I going to tell them and what's the reaction to them going to be at school? And so they're all natural human instincts.
I think that it doesn't matter how how high your profile is or how successful you might have been. And everybody's a human being. They're all actually worldwide the same way we've all grown up from the same. And you suffer in the same way, I think.
And how how have you sort of rebuilt your confidence in these tough times where you have been flawed, where you have felt, you know, rejected, etc.?
What have been the first sort of steps in going? Right. I know I'm not going to give up. That's not in my nature. I'm going to get into challenge made.
I feel pretty exposed, vulnerable, bruised.
What are those first steps in regaining that confidence? I think the first thing is to look honestly at what you could have done better. And I think sometimes there's a tendency to brush over the bits that you may be fell short on, and that might be honest feedback from a close friend or colleague or just genuinely looking looking at yourself and mapping, mapping your strengths against the things that if I want to be the best coach in the world, where am I on all of these criteria?
And if and if we're really honest in our appraisal, not beat yourself up on things that are unrealistic, but also making sure that we're critical in the right moment, then I felt it so important to go away and learn, go go away and improve in those different areas, speak to high level coaches, watch high level people work, watch their teams play to see what you can learn from them, because there's so many opportunities to learn through reading or through watching things or through visiting people or podcasts or whatever it might be.
We're surrounded by opportunities to get better. There's actually not enough hours in the day to take it all in. Yeah. So I think for me that was the process. What was the benchmark realistically? Where am I against that and how do I get better? And then you can start to take control of those things. Whereas if you're just talking about bad luck or chance or well, you're not really taking ownership of it or responsibility or accountability. And I think in the end, it's our decision.
We decide how far we want to go and we probably limit ourselves if anything we do.
We all do, because we create these stories in our heads of what we think we're capable of or what somebody else has once said to us that impacts us. And and we do we do create these sort of roadblocks for ourselves.
And and sometimes that that derives from only looking at the negatives and only creating some sort of equation that is built from all the bad bits of yourselves, the failures and the mistakes. And you forget about the victories, the small successes, whatever it might be.
How have you got that balance over the years to, you know, because you you have kept in this sort of incredibly balanced place from an outsider, someone that hasn't believed all the hype and the fame and all the furor, but also hasn't sunk into an awful place when they've been dealt a heavy hand. So how how have you kept balance within the good and the bad that you've experienced and the outside noise that also reflects that?
Back to you. Yeah, I'm not sure I always have, which is which, again, I think is something that we all should be aware of because we look at people, particularly public figures, and we make a lot of assumptions. Yeah, everything's been great and everything there journey's been easy and legit, and the super strengthens super confident and able to deal with anything. And the reality is there are days where it hurts. It bloody hurts. The criticism, hurts, the defeats hurts.
And I definitely now have I think when I was playing, I enjoyed the wins more. You played, it was done. You went and had a couple of beers in the days when we were playing and we moved on to the next round. And well, I didn't I was the poor manager was at home thinking about the next guy straight away and who was injured and who he was going to pick, who was going to leave out. So you definitely spend less time.
Sadly, I spent less time celebrating the wins. We do try to give ourselves time to enjoy the wins because otherwise, why are we doing it? In actual fact? But I'd have to say I don't think I always get that balance right even now. And it's very easy to be overly critical and to because we're surrounded in a world where the brain has more negative thoughts than positive thoughts anyway. So if we're then loaded by external comments and external reaction, it's easy to to get into a cycle of worrying about everything that's gone wrong and not really reflect accurately.
OK, hang on, we did this, this and this. Well, so let's be let's be really specific about why why we buy. We didn't win in some days. We might have done maybe everything right and still lost. Yeah. In our sport that can happen. It's such a low scoring sport that you can play really well on occasions and lose. So a real honest appraisal I think is important.
And how we how are you able to get that balance of, you know, like you just said there, the manager doesn't get to stop thinking about what's going on. You're constantly then, you know, projecting to the next match or what you've got to sort out in the diary next. But you, of course, need time out. You need everybody needs that time to rest. And I'm not very good. I find resting excruciating at times because I've always got another thing I want to do, another idea, or I know I could do something better and I, I then learn the hard way by hitting a wall and feeling like shit.
So how how how do you give yourself that time out and what does that look like. How do you rest, recuperate and try and mentally switch off from from the game.
Yeah. Yeah. That's increasingly difficult when for example, now there are matches every day of the week. So there's always a game that I could be watching and disconnecting myself from the family because I'll just watch this player.
And now there's four games on a Saturday and I don't know about it, but my husband is killing me.
So I do think with the national team there is a there is a respite because actually we have a very busy autumn period and then we have a couple of months of recovery. I'm really conscious that the basics have to be right. What would I how I exercise, what I could go and do. So maybe I'll just go and walk the dogs. We live out in the countryside. We're up in Yorkshire. Nobody's too bothered, really. They'll they'll tell me pretty bloody quickly if it's not going right.
But but they're not actually too bothered about what's going on in my life.
And I think if I was living in London where I'm from, that might be different. Yeah. It might be harder to switch off. You'd be constantly walking into people, not able to get away from it. So I think it's a godsend to live where we do. But I know that if I've slept well in particular, I can deal with almost anything. And for me, the ability to sleep well depends on diet, exercise, switch of relaxation.
I'm not I'm not one who meditates, but I can totally see the value in things like that. And I do think that when we talk about mental wellbeing, it's those basic looking after yourself things and giving yourself time that's managing your energy. And if if it's a manager you are not managing your energy, then it's very hard to help everybody else.
Well, that's it. It's absolutely integral in any role of responsibility. And I can't imagine how the weight of that responsibility for you and and and with the amount of people that have their eyes on you and and you're very much surrounded by people in in what you do constantly, even if they're not with you.
You know, that's very. Part of of what you do is the team mentality and and that that's your group of people and and that's constant. So is solitude an important part of your your rest? You need to have time where it is just you on your own.
Yeah, I like I like that again, I think that might be a male thing as well, a little bit more that we like to have space, we like to disappear and just think I definitely like to, as I say, walk the dogs, maybe listen to a podcast, listen to music, just take myself somewhere. The beauty of travel is something which we're not able to do at the moment, but we live near a reservoir and to be able to walk near the water, see the countryside, the small things.
But I think actually when you strip it down, those real basic, enjoyable things in life, quite often things that you don't pay for, a beautiful sunset, a beautiful walk, just just to be able to get out and experience life is best. I love nothing better than walking along a beach and just listening to the sea. So those things I think, yes, of course, if you're able if you have money, you can travel more under normal circumstances and visit those beautiful places.
But life can be quite simple and still be a lot of fun.
I think it's so true.
I think, you know, we it's so interesting, especially on this series, the podcast, the amount of people that I've talked to who have sort of said that they're they're calm and their piece or that the clarity will come from just being in nature. It's that simple. I certainly need it. You know, I I live in London ish.
We just did a day trip to do the other day and just to see, like, my kids running on the beach and to have that when your face got your skin tight from the sea air and oh, it's just gorgeous. And it seems to be especially this year with the weirdness that we're experiencing and and often the restrictions on where we can go, just being outside feels like enough.
It's that's what we're all needing right now. Well, one of the beautiful things about lockdown for us was that we had a female duck laying eggs in our garden.
So that's something none of us would have had the time, probably if we'd all been at work and at school, we would never have known that was going on. And, of course, it became a thing every day. She's on the nest. When are they going to hatch? Can we feed them? How many are there? We're following them around. So actually, those things that are connected with nature at that time, it did feel there was there were no planes in the sky.
There was no traffic going around. We seem to we felt more aware of the birds singing.
And I mean, I'm getting very deep and that's what it's all about.
But it's definitely I felt those things that attached this back to nature were so powerful. They really were.
Oh, you've got some locked down ducklings. How wonderful. I love that. Well, Garreth, thank you so much.
What an honor and a pleasure it is to have had you on the podcast. I've been so looking forward to this one. And your book is brilliant. It's so wonderful for, like you say, young people and adults to read about your experiences and see how you can apply those sorts of theories and learnings into all of our lives, whether you're in the sports world or not, because they all absolutely apply. Thank you so much.
Well, thank you for having me. We're big fans of the podcast, so I know my daughter, my wife in particular, a very NBA. So thank you.
I was I was really hoping my husband was going to be around so I could, um, professionally get him up here. But I've just heard him drive off the drive by with the kids because I was being too noisy for another time. But thank you so much.
Thanks for your Garreth. Thank you. So enjoyed that. Do you go to Harrisburg is lovely. Anything is possible. Be brave, be kind and follow your dreams is a must for anyone trying to get to grips with the pressure in their life. Really good for teens as well. If you've got things in your life, get it for them.
And if Christmas, if your needs a happy place, go explore our blistering back catalogue of guests. We got so many good ones. I was banging on about the Dawn French episode the other day, our very first episode, which still blows my mind. I put a picture up on Instagram because it was just such a moment and it really helped me kick start the whole series. So go listen to that one. It's lovely. Just scroll down there on your podcast app and dig in.
My suggestion. Thanks again to Gareth, to our sponsors. This series Stripe and Stat, the producer, Matt Hale at Rethink Audio.
Hats off to you, sir, and thank you to you for listening. I love you. I adore you. I'll see you next week by.