Yesterday afternoon, after losing 1-0 to Everton, Chelsea Football Club sacked their manager Carlo Ancelotti. On those facts alone some of you may wonder why I’m writing this. Actually, most of you will wonder why I am a) writing about Chelsea and b) doing so with some concern for their manager. I am no Chelsea fan and indeed my interest in football has waned to its lowest ever ebb despite the relative success of my own team this season. However, looking at the bigger picture this one incident is symptomatic of the world around us. Ancelotti led Chelsea to a league and cup double in his first season in charge last year and though there has been no silverware for the club this year they have still finished 2nd in the World’s richest football. No mean feat when you think about it (however many millions are spent doing this). According to the BBC a club statement read: “This season’s performances have fallen short of expectations and the club feels the time is right to make this change ahead of next season’s preparations.” Which makes you think that with expectations that high one can only succeed in failing.
Football isn’t the only arena in which these expectations are meted out. As I indicated at the end of last year, cycling has its own obsessions with unqualified success and in doing so places perhaps undue pressure on its own protagonists. But it doesn’t stop there. Our work lives are seemingly ruled by the pursuit of “continuing success”, our economies driven by not only continued growth but an expectation that it will be growth above a particular rate. Our sights are set on the “top”, however those at the top might define it. I know from first hand experience about working in an environment which strives for “world class”. All of us, it seem, are only one drink away from the last chance saloon.
I also know from first hand experience how that “world class” tends to ignore the small gains, the marginal impact and the difference small ideas can ultimately have if allowed to develop and evolve. Too much of life is based on wanting what we cannot have rather than appreciating what we have. My own recent admissions in this blog are an attempt at that acceptance for me. As I suggested to a friend, I don’t want to change the world anymore just improve my own back garden. Her reply took me back but made sense – if we all did that wouldn’t it have much more of an impact. Equally, my appeal for blog readers to get in touch prompted this response from @spandelles: “yes, many hits will be fake. It’s the few real hits that count.” Two good lessons in life I think worth focussing on. In giving up the allotment, I’m getting a better back garden. In accepting that some people cheat, I can enjoy watching cycling. In finding I can’t be “world class”, I know what difference I can actually make to somebody’s life. In realising I have a few blog readers, at least I know I’m not talking to myself. As Colin Firth says in Fever Pitch, “what’s wrong with that? It’s actually pretty comforting if you think about it.”