Category Archives: Sport

2013 in Books: Non-fiction (part one)

Due to my need to categorise this is part one in the non-fiction books. On a side-note I’m finding Goodreads a great way of keeping track of my reading.

Biography

OneWildLifeFrontCoverART-sm1. One Wild Life – Claire Mulvaney

This qualifies as biography (in my mind!) in that the author Claire Mulvaney tells the stories (and interviews) people around the globe who are working for social change. From Ireland to India she introduces over 30 people working to make the world  better place. With a few pages per person its a great book to dip into every day and come away inspired and motivated to make a difference. Find out more on her site here.

51eaYJmEwfL._AA160_2. Adventures of a Waterboy – Mike Scott

No matter if you’re a fan of the Waterboys or not this is a great read and wonderful insight into life as a musician. I read Peter Carlin’s ‘Bruce’ at a similar time and Mike Scott’s writing is vastly superior – unsurprisingly.

51q1qdKksBL._AA160_

3. Where Are You Really From? – Tim Brannigan

I think everyone from Northern Ireland should read this – especially if you come from a Protestant background. Fascinating and incredible story of growing up black in West Belfast in the 70s and spending time in the H blocks.

Honourable mention for ‘Stillness and Speed: My Story’ by Dennis Bergkamp which isn’t really by him but more a series of interviews. Bergkamp was undoubtedly one of the best footballers to grace the Premiership. His insights and story of a playing career spanning Ajax, Inter Milan and Arsenal are a must read for the football geek. and it was only 59p on Kindle. Bargain.

Theology/Christian

Interestingly I found myself reading much less Christian books in 2013 although maybe I was just being more selective!

JTMEE1. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes – Kenneth Bailey

Kenneth Bailey is a Middle-Eastern scholar (and lived there for 40 years) who has written some brilliant books unpacking the context of the Middle East at the time of Jesus helping bring deeper understanding of many of Jesus’ encounters and parables. The section of Jesus and women was particularly helpful with some of the material on the parables similar to his earlier works Poet and Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes.

WMF2. The Word Made Flesh – Eugene Peterson

I feel I’m starting to turn into Jaybercrow as my love for Eugene Peterson’s writing reaches adulation. Maybe its about stage of life or experiences but I find Peterson incredibly insightful, earthy and inspiring.This is the fourth in Peterson’s wonderful ‘Spiritual Theology’ series. Continuing the parables theme – I really enjoyed getting stuck into them this past year, also dipping into Ched Myers ‘Binding the Strong Man’.

STPOTC3. Seek the Good of the City – Doug Banister

A free ebook (get it here) this is a wonderfully short, holistic and practical guide to what it looks like to seek to bless the city.

Honourable mention to Multiplying Missional Leaders by Mike Breen – another practical and provocative read.

What were your best biographies and theology/Christian reads of 2013?

Next up is leadership and productivity.

Coming up – 10km of obstacles and muck

runamuckThis time next week, with 7 others I’m taking on the mud and obstacles of Runamuck. Will you help get me over the finish line by sponsoring me? (click here if you’re a UK taxpayer as we can reclaim tax through Justgiving)

We’re running/jumping/wading and whatever else is involved to raise money for RISE.

RISE is an Innovista leadership programme which equips teenagers (particularly from tough inner city environments)  to be sources of hope in their community. As part of RISE they will come up with and carry out a project that will create positive change in their local community.

RISE is currently running with an inner city girls school’s transition year class and a church youth group in Dublin 8. In the next few weeks, two more groups will be starting with community youth groups in Ballymun and Inchicore. We’re really excited by the potential of RISE to inspire and equip teenagers. You can read about the first school pilot of RISE here.

runamuck sponsor.ie pageWe’re working with schools and inner city community groups who are doing incredible work on a shoestring. It costs us €50 for each teenager to participate in RISE. I’d love to raise €500 by completing Runamuck.

If you would like to help me reach that target click here to go to my sponsor.ie page.

(If you are in the UK you can give tax-efficiently through my Justgiving page.

Thanks!

Learning from Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho about leadership development and succession

How do you replace the most successful football manager in your history if you are Manchester United?

If it was me my initial reaction would be to look at the successful coaches around who have a track record at winning trophies.

alex and joseInstead of talking trophies, the language coming about the appointment of David Moyes (who has won no trophies as Everton manager) as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor were phrases like:

“long term commitment”
“ability to develop young players”
“tactical acumen”
“delivering champions league football on a minimal budget”

Instead of looking for a star like Jose Mourinho, Man Utd have decided to recruit on values. They have chosen a manager whose values fit with the club and who can bring a high level of performance from a club with a miniscule transfer budget.

Recently in work we have been doing a lot of work on values, behaviour and culture. Inspired and reminded by Patrick Lencioni in The Advantage that in recruiting we should recruit for values as cultural fit is vital.  At this week’s Leadership Conference I was intrigued to notice how Bill Hybels has added ‘culture’ to his c list (of character, calling, competency and chemistry).

Jose Mourinho seemed an obvious choice for Man Utd in terms of his success and ability to deliver, however it was obvious that he wasn’t seen as a cultural fit, especially by Sir Bobby Charlton.

Which leads me on to something I’ve noticed while looking at both Sir Alex and Jose, also highlighted by a friend on twitter last week.

There is no doubting the track records of both managers in terms of trophies.

It is interesting however to look at their ability to develop others – and by this I mean other coaches. I acknowledge plenty of Ferguson’s former players have become coaches/managers.

How many of Sir Alex’s assistants or coaches have gone on to become successful coaches in their own right?

To my knowledge, none. Sir Alex is an old style manager/leader who appears to have a fairly autocratic style. He seems to choose people who will work under him but is not a developer.

Jose Mourinho is a different story. Three of his backroom staff during his first spell at Chelsea are now Premier League managers in their own right. And very competent top eight ones at that. Brendan Rogers at Liverpool, Steve Clarke at West Brom and of course Andre Villas Boas at Tottenham.

For me Mourinho models a different style of leadership that develops others. I have no doubt this is rooted in his experience of working under Bobby Robson at Sporting Lisbon and following him to Barcelona. Jose started at Sporting as an interpreter. Robson saw his obvious potential and invested in him, becoming a mentor. The culture of developing others that Jose experienced has also become something he now appears to espouse and model.

Two examples of leaders who get results. One who appears to develop and release those under him into their own leadership, one who very much keeps his position as the kingpin.

Most importantly a visible reminder in both cases of how values create culture and how those values are learned and then shared and multiplied.

What do you think? (Has my Chelsea supporting skewed my perspective?)

Anton Ferdinand, John Terry, CS Lewis and shaking hands

I’m getting pretty tired of these stories about refusing to shake hands and whether footballers should be made to shake hands. A number of thoughts cross my mind.

That Anton Ferdinand doesn’t want to shake John Terry’s hand is understandable. But why not Ashley Cole? Because he defended Terry in court? To me that makes the issue less about racist comments and more about petulance.

To offer your hand to someone who has offended you doesn’t necessarily mean you their actions are ok. CS Lewis is on the money here:

forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. (This doesn’t mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart – every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily, in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.

To shake hands (for me) is to begin to forgive and demonstrates the ability to break out of the cycle of tit-for-tat hatred and move above onto the plane of grace and forgiveness. To move to that plane requires more courage and to be more of a ‘man’. Ferdinand may see it as weakness. For me it requires more strength.

Respect. The whole sorry incident and the abuse that goes on with some footballers involves  a lack of respect. Bloated egos, salaries and their insecurities result in a need to destroy others and ‘put them off their game’ with words. Perhaps they should shut their mouths and let their performance on the field do the talking? The Olympics demonstrated athletes who compete against each other but can also show incredible admiration and respect for each other. I love how in rugby the teams applaud each other off the pitch. Some footballers could learn a lot.

We hear a lot of debate in football about who are the leaders on the pitch. All this silliness over handshakes is a good opportunity to find out.

And perhaps to remember that good leadership requires good character.

But perhaps the issue of insecurity and how that works out is also important. It’s hard to respect others if your identity is in the wrong place.

John Terry – time to show some real leadership

Being a Chelsea fan makes all the lurid headlines about John Terry’s misdemeanours even more difficult to take. He has been a fantastic ‘leader’ on the pitch, but the quality of that leadership is now in question. Serious questions have been asked of his conduct in recent weeks, mostly money related. From the dodgy £10,000 a pop secret tours to the super-injunction he tried in the media (guardian site) it appears to be all centred on the money. What disturbed me most about his attempted super-injunction was not that it was designed to protect his wife and two children but his reputation with his sponsors. He has already made a lot of cash from selling wedding rights and from his ‘dad of the year award’ (which definitely needs returned). I’ve heard nothing in the media about him being sorry, no apologies to his family or to Wayne Bridge. Some of the more lurid speculation about him paying for an abortion for Bridge’s then girlfriend seems to confirm a pattern that he thinks money can fix everything. Terry has a lot to learn about leadership. He maybe needs to start with one of the basics – at the core of leadership is character and trust that demonstrates itself in compassion and respect for other people. Although Ancelotti is standing by Terry as Chelsea captain it seems only a matter of time before he has to resign the England captaincy or be stripped of it. The longer he holds on the more respect he loses. The captaincy issue for me is partly about Terry’s moral leadership and also about trust and respect in the dressing room. If I was one of Terry’s team-mates I wouldn’t want him anywhere near my wife or partner, I would find it very difficult to trust him. Can such a litany of major flaws in judgement in such crucial issues really be divorced from your ability to lead a team? I think not. The England captaincy isn’t even the real issue. The real issue is does Terry have the balls to stand up and not only admit his wrongdoing, but apologise and demonstrate remorse? Does he have the ‘character’ to begin to demonstrate some elements of good leadership – a willingness to take responsibility? That will be more effective in restoring his reputation that simply hiring a PR company.  I’m willing to give him a chance, as we are all flawed, but I’m not sure if Terry even thinks he has done anything wrong, so come on John – show us what you are made of!

The Boss

Who is there who can top a 2 and 3/4 hour set from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band? They may have taken a while to get going, but when they did it was amazing. Sometimes after a gig you can feel you’ve played out an artist but I’ve been delving back into the back collection ever since. Here’s a wee snippet from the gig. I’m not even going to try to put it into words. Check him out yourself…

Some of the clips on youtube of Bruce playing with u2 and REM are well worth checking out.

After all the excitement of Thursday night, the soapbox ventured out to the *insert energy drink brand* soapbox races at Stormont. On a sunny afternoon Stormont is a great venue, a lush green oasis in Belfast’s suburban sprawl. Unfortunately this soapbox wasn’t racing but some of the racing was pretty funny. Some of the competitors appeared to have forgotten to road test their machines, some had clearly spent far too much time in their garages! Interesting afternoon out but they maybe did string it out too long as the crowd drifted off with not even Colin Murray’s not quite suited to a family day out humour struggled to keep people there.

What better way to end a day like that with frisbee at seapark…

I’ve been censored by the big brother of Rugby World Cup Ltd!

rugby World Cup ballPrepare yourself for an outpouring of indignation. I have received an email from youtube informing me of a copyright infringement, and my video of the haka at the France-New Zealand Rugby World Cup Quarter Final has been removed! Not even action from the game but the haka. Waht the flip are Rugby World Cup Ltd up to? Have they nothing better to do with their time than trawl the internet and remove the slightest footage or photos of all their games? Seriously think about it – someone must be being paid from the money I paid for my ticket to trawl you tube looking for videos from matches. Do they expect us to pay to take videos and photos or something? What sort of world are they living in? Do they have Orwellian dreams and want to take on Rupert Murdoch for control of the media? Is 1984 looming? Can anyone tell me what major crime an advert for what is possibly one of the most attractive games to watch played is? I’m awaiting a writ now for criticising their small minded ridiculous pettiness, and to be told that I have to remove the photo of the French fans as it was at an official Rugby World Cup Ltd event. Maybe it should be Big business is watching instead of big brother…

the soapbox – so angry he can barely type