Mental Matters Column: Identification is king for Sterling

One of the UK’s top motivational speakers and ex-MK Dons footballer Drewe Broughton talks about the mindset of England’s best footballer.

As I write this, England’s finest footballer Raheem Sterling has been reprimanded for lashing out at teammate Joe Gomez.

The story is well known by now. What I felt compelled to discuss is not so much Gareth Southgate’s management of the situation, but rather the “mindset” of Sterling.

I’ve read many journalists and commentators say that “Gomez is dealing with it all so well.”

The truth is some hurt more than others. In my 26 years of being in the world of high performing individuals, you get different levels of competitiveness and desire.

Sterling did an interview this year, saying the biggest mistake he had made was when he lost himself and listened to too many people. That he had (over the last couple of years) rediscovered that lost self. I’m jealous.

It took me to get to 33-years-old, losing everything and completely unfulfilling my potential, to find my lost self.

He has, not coincidentally, been guided and mentored by the great Spanish manager Pep Guardiola. A hugely emotionally intelligent man, Pep has created team after team of footballers who have revolutionised the game.

The ignorant commentators will sight the transfer budgets he has had, but that is hugely short-sighted. He taps into the emotions of the individuals, freeing them to be their true selves.

Sterling that day in the canteen at St. George’s Park was his true self. He was authentic, he was hurting, and he was raw. He was more hurt than others.

He’s the only player in that room who will come anywhere near winning the Ballon D’or (the award for the world’s greatest footballer), not through his speed or skill, but through his relentless and insatiable appetite to win.

He wants it more than others and that’s the intensity of a real leader.

Identification is what Pep gives him. Identification with his intensity, his desire, his drive and his heart. That same identification was missing when he walked out of that Manchester City dressing room and into that canteen at St George’s Park.

Southgate, as good as he’s been for the team and the cultural shifts he’s made, can’t go to that place that Sterling can go. That low, that rawness, that pain.

In the world of high performing people, it’s identification with another’s soul that will truly be the difference.

This feature was published in the December 2019 issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. Read the full magazine above or by clicking on this link.

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