On Wednesday, I had the pleasure and privilege of sitting in front of 6 current and former professional cricketers as they each presented on the changes they had experienced by investing time in their own personal development. They spoke about the intensity of professional cricket and the increasing levels of expectation they felt within the cricket bubble. They shared personal stories, the highs and especially the lows, describing the times when just ‘hitting more balls’ was actually making their situation worse instead of better.
There was often a tipping point. A moment when doing something different was the only option. Taking themselves outside of their usual environment by enrolling in courses, learning a new skill, mixing with non-sporting people during work placements, reconnecting with old friends and/or spending more time with family all helped to open their eyes to what else is out there.
The joy was seeing the excitement and possibility in their eyes as they described the steps they had taken. You could see individuals who had possibly previously defined themselves by their skill in a sport realising they had plenty more to offer and that cricket could be a stepping stone rather than a tombstone in their career.
And if that wasn’t enough, their cricket performance improved as a result.
Happier individuals, with increased levels of self-confidence and resilience, bringing skills and experiences from outside their sport back into the dressing room? Now, that sounds like a pretty professional approach to me.