CRAIG NELSON: Football directors should curb their positivity

Craig Nelson says positivity can be a dangerous thing

Craig Nelson says positivity can be a dangerous thing

First published in Sport
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The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , sports writer

A FOOTBALL fan I was speaking to last week came up with a quite amazing statement: “Positive people can be very dangerous.”

Now most football people I talk to, in fact any sporty people, would tell you the exact opposite.

Sports coaches treat negativity like a cancer. They pounce on the first sign of it and either cut out the guilty party or get highly-paid psychiatrists like Dr Steve Peters on the job immediately.

The longer negativity festers the more dangerous it becomes. Just a small dose can grow into an insurmountable obstacle to success and glory.

It’s not enough for sportsmen and women to dream about winning or hope for the best, they have to know they are the best – defeat is inconceivabe.

That is the mindset of a champion, second best is for chumps.

But the thing about people with unshakeable belief is that they can be difficult to predict, especially if the unthinkable happens.

Their unshakeable mindset makes defeat much more difficult to compute.

Pragmatic, rational people know for every winner there is a loser.

And the further you go through life, the greater the chance of tasting defeat.

Defeat is an essential part of life in many ways, you learn more about what it takes to succeed by a single defeat than a handful of victories.

As Kipling put it, you have to learn to treat the two imposters the same.

But try telling that to a modern football coach.

They will look at you like you have just insulted their mother.

Now, there is nothing wrong with being an eternal optimist – optimists understand and appreciate bad things happen, just not today.

Ultra-positive people, however, refuse to even contemplate the possibility that bad things can happen, there is no yin and yang to them, it’s all yang, yang, yang.

So much so, they can be pretty tedious people.

As long as you don’t let yourself get sucked into their world, I guess this kind of tunnel vision is harmless, certainly not dangerous.

But take them off the sports field and into the boardroom and, as my friend eventually managed to convince me, these people become dangerous.

Like a gambling addict, if a businessperson manages to convince themselves that failure is not an option then there is no limit to the damage they can cause. If they just happen to be the director of a football club then, well, you can see how so many fall into administration these days.

The moral of this story is that positivity in the boardoom is like a cancer, it must be eradicated at all costs.

Hope for the best but plan for the worst is the only mindset that will ensure our clubs a secure future. If directors start listening to their team managers, well, then you know trouble is around the corner.

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