Cameron, Cricket, Interference and me

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And there I was on a tennis court for the first time in years. All part of my coaching qualification so quite a long time ago now. We were working on Flow and Interference and I was in the capable hands of a superb coach (who is now my Coaching Supervisor I’m delighted to say). He would throw me balls and my task was to hit them over the net and into the service court. I was getting 5 or 6 out of 10 in.

Like any good coach he asked me what I was noticing, what felt wrong, what was interesting, what felt right, what was going on? I was replying that my wrist felt wrong and, well, more on this later……

It was all about interference and what was coming between me and the best possible performance.

I was reminded of this recently when watching Cameron at Prime Minister’s questions and again this week with the cricket “sledging” controversy. Interference, and a desire to create it in others in a competitive environment, is such an interesting topic.

David Cameron is obviously a talented guy. You don’t rise to the top of any profession without talent. No matter the politics it’s always fascinating to observe and learn from people who are a success in their own field.

So what’s going on in the House of Commons? When he first became PM he was calm, confident, courteous to the Opposition and seemed to transition into his new role pretty well. But at PMQs there is so much interference which stops him being at his best: firstly the demands of the office and the constant distractions caused by having to juggle so many different conflicting priorities.

But also,  at PMQs, you have the Opposition Front Bench as personified by a certain Mr Ed Balls. A strong character and another at the top of his profession.  He sets out to distract and irritate Cameron – and more often than not it seems to work with the PM saying something he wishes he hasn’t or becoming ”wound up” and looking much less statesman-like. So in coaching terms Balls is successfully causing interference and stopping the PM from realising his potential.

Over to cricket – it’s the same phenomenon. One cricketer doesn’t really want to break another’s arm surely? They don’t really want to do all those things to the others player’s wife. In all likelihood it’s only exceptionally that they personally dislike the opponents – indeed will often be found on the same side when it comes to County Cricket. So, again, they are merely trying to cause interference -and we know that the most likely outcome is to stop a talented players’s performance equalling their potential.

All this applies in careers – so what is your interference?

Back to the tennis court. What did I notice? My wrist felt odd – cramped in some way? A few more balls struck. What did I notice? Actually it’s not my wrist – I’m standing too close to where the balls are bouncing? A few more balls struck. OK what can you do about it? Move. Oh that feels more comfortable – more natural.

The observers were amazed. My coach was smiling. Why? Well I’d stopped worrying about the goal and focused on my current reality – what was actually happening – what could I do differently. I’d removed some interference and was arguably in a state of Flow.

And what have the observers noticed? The moment I stopped focusing on getting those balls in I started achieving 10 out of 10.

Powerful stuff this Interference.

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