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Fergie’s insights on a winning attitude…

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Last night I was fortunate enough to go the launch of Sir Alex Ferguson’s new book, ‘Leading’, at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Yes, I am an avid Manchester United fan, however no one can argue the unrivalled success that Fergie achieved over his glittering career. In terms of management, he has seen it all and I went with my ears well and truly open looking forward to hearing whatever golden nuggets of insight he was prepared to share that we could all learn from.


The standing ovation he achieved as he casually strolled onto the stage was mind-blowing, massive waves of people stood up and the whole place burst into song, it was as though we were all up North at Old Trafford just before kick off on a Saturday afternoon.

He is clearly revered in both a footballing and commercial sense as he joined MUFC when they were valued at £15 million, now they are worth in the region of £2.5 Billion, mind-blowing…anyhow, what resonated with me most when questioned about his success & how he achieved so much was – “you can’t have your cake and eat it, many personal sacrifices have to be made”.

Simple, right – but how many of us genuinely make sacrifices in the pursuit of our goals?

High performers in the commercial world reach their professional goals not simply because of who they are or whom they know, but more often because of what they do and the values, purpose and mission they believe in. They are 100% focused as they have a total sense & clarity of purpose and the willingness to make necessary sacrifices in pursuit of their cause. So, how do these high performers plot their way to the success they are pursuing…?

In my experience, here are a few habits that have been engrained in these high performing individuals –

1) A clearly defined goal with a timeframe is a huge MUST:

Visualising what you are striving for with a clear vision makes you believe in your ability to make it a reality. I would advise setting little and regular milestones so you can sense check your progress against these and keep evaluating where you are at against the plan. Visualising this progress embeds the daily actions you need to take and makes it more empowering and meaningful. Therefore, little by little, the visualised plan becomes a reality.

2) Successful people achieve what they are striving for as it’s linked to their overarching purpose:

Success is clearly linked to how passionate you are about what you do – so, first and foremost, are you inherently passionate about what you do daily? Hopefully the answer to this will be yes, and this level of passion enables us all to tap into our potential to achieve our goals.  Passion propels mental discipline while purpose helps define the actions necessary to take in order to make success happen. In layman’s terms, if you enjoy what you are doing and truly believe in what you are doing, this will build the level of confidence, reduce bad habits that often throw you off track and ultimately increase your level of dogma to achieve.

Most importantly, passion fuels optimistic thinking; it turns the mundane into challenging and stagnant into innovative.

3) High performers are more emotionally aware and build better relationships.

We all have a level of emotional intelligence but highly successful folks tend to get more out of all their relationships – that’s because they intuitively understand that nothing of substance can be achieved without the support and cooperation of those around them, regardless of how far up or down the food chain they are…

They prioritise learning to become empathetic and in-tune to the feelings of those around them. Because they are hugely empathetic, they are able to read others and work collaboratively to achieve success together. As a result, they are far more effective at bobbing and weaving through the corporate red-tape as they’ve forged real and genuine relationships in the workplace.

4) Successful people keep their emotions in check.

Successful folks have the knack of keeping a high level of emotional equilibrium regardless of what transpires in the workplace. While people who lack this ability are consistently battling angst, those who can properly manage the way they feel can bounce back far more rapidly from whatever setback arises. If you can deal with the negativity as quickly as possible and crack on in pursuit of the over-arching goal, this level of positivity will ripple effect via those around you.

Success doesn’t happen overnight – it is a daily process of positive actions that are repeated until they are embedded. We all need to embrace change positively and evolve with the world as technology rapidly evolves. While many people hanker after success, few take the time to understand the thought processes and behaviours that actually makes success a reality. That is the difference between those that achieve it and the perpetual average-achievers.

As Sir Alex causally said – what is crucial is creating a culture of excellence at all levels of an organisation so that everyone understands the importance of discipline & the therefore devote themselves to a habit of excellence.

Thanks Fergie, it was definitely worth battling the commuters on a damp Monday night in London to listen to your sagacious words.

I’m off to write my clearly defined vision and make it a reality…