Virtual coffee meetings with Metis Ireland
Part six: When the goalposts move, set new goals
In the third part of our Virtual Coffee session for business leaders we’re focusing on lessons from the world of sport. We’re lucky enough to have Dublin Gaelic footballer Dean Rock to share his reflections on this strange period that history will remember as ‘lockdown’.
An interesting nugget of sporting information: the last time Dublin lost a championship match was way back in 2014. Dean and the team are obviously doing something right. Here he gives us his thoughts on the importance of innovation, routine, and the challenges of building a new normal.
Being innovative with your time
Dean juggles his football career with his role as fundraising manager for Stewarts Care in Palmerstown. It’s a voluntary organisation that’s dedicated to providing community-based services for people with intellectual disabilities. One of the major and immediate impacts of the lockdown on that side of life was shelving a number of important fundraising events set to provide much needed support to vulnerable people.
Not one to take it lying down, Dean and four of his colleagues clubbed together to carry out a new event. In honour of Stewarts Care celebrating its 150th year in 2020, they ran a more than impressive 150 kilometres between them, raising €80,000. The money allowed the organisation to fund tablets and phones to help people stay in touch with their families and friends during this challenging period.
Dublin 1 – Lockdown 0.
It’s a serious point though: lockdown has knocked the wind out of the sails of many an endeavour. Dean’s key observation is that we need to be innovative with our time. We may have been stopped in our tracks for a little while, but it’s important to stay motivated and think of new ways around the obstacle.
Back to football…
As we’ve heard from both Jack O’Donoghue and Róisín Upton, if you’re an athlete in a team game lockdown inevitably changes things. Training, interacting with your team mates, fitness routines and focus are all affected. But it’s how we react to these changes that’s important. Dean points out that there are many aspects of normal life that pass almost without comment until we find ourselves in a situation in which they’re no longer normal.
Playing for Dublin, for example, means seeing the rest of the team four or five times a week. Going to Parnell Park to train on the pitch together, but also in the gym, being in one way or another involved with each other’s lives. All that is now on hold. Dean has been quick to get replacement plans in place: setting up his home gym, going for runs, and keeping in contact with the team as much as possible.
Be proactive and recognise your strengths
One of the major lessons is that we can make use of this time proactively. At the beginning of lockdown it felt like a full stop on practically everything. But we can very much be proactive in the way we conduct ourselves at home. In normal life we don’t always recognise our own strengths or, if we do, we don’t always play to them successfully. In the lockdown environment Dean has come to understand that he’s at his best in the early part of the day. He’s constructed a new routine that starts at 7am with his physical training first, before work starts at 10am with Stewarts Care.
Having a routine in place won’t take away the big unknowns of lockdown – how it’ll end, when it’ll end, what life will be like after it – but it does help us to work with what we know and what we can achieve. It’s also a chance to explore new skills that have either been sitting on the backburner or would never have occurred without the situation we’re all now in. Dean has discovered a hitherto unknown mastery of the kitchen (cooking, not eating. He was good at that already).
Take time to heal too
But as Dean notes, we shouldn’t take being proactive to such extremes that we pile on unnecessary pressure in what’s already a testing time. Learning new skills and reinforcing old ones is an opportunity, not an obligation. As worrying as this period can be, it’s also a chance to pause and to heal. In Dean’s case this is from 10 years of physical activity. Modern life provides precious few real chances to pause for contemplation. While this one isn’t something we asked for or are happy about, it does give us a chance to slow down and re-evaluate things.
Remember too that you don’t have to put a happy face on it all the time. Even for an elite athlete, motivation ebbs and flows. When it’s flowing, embrace it, try new things plan new goals. When it’s ebbing, go easy on yourself. It’s not a competition. We’re all new to this and it’s ok to feel down. The important thing is not to stay there.
In Dean’s words, “Use the time at your disposal to the best of your ability and you’ll thank yourself for it”. Note that the emphasis is on you. It’s not about comparisons, it’s about making lockdown the most illuminating and useful experience for you.
Sports and business go hand in hand
We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing from our three sporting figures over the last few weeks. We certainly have! We’re not the first to compare sporting prowess to business success and we won’t be the last. They have passion, commitment, vision and achievement in common, but also the need to rest and recuperate from time to time.
We’ll be back soon with our next Virtual coffee episode, until then if you’ve missed any of the blogs so far, you can catch up here.
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