Viktor Frankl was a Holocaust survivor; despite being imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, he began to see the power of dedicating oneself to a cause. Basically, the chances of survival would increase with a positive outlook; after the war ended, his thesis expanded; if one had a positive outlook and was dedicated to something greater than oneself, then that person had laid the groundwork for success.
From Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning:
“Don’t aim at success — the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: You have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run — in the long run, I say — success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.”
So, what does Viktor Frankl have to do with football?
Canadian national women’s team coach John Herdman is a big believer in the Frankl philosophy; and he shares some of the great Austrian psychologist’s messages with his players. On Monday, Herdman addressed the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. As he was addressing the business leaders of the city — and it wasn’t solely a media event — he didn’t filter what he said.
And the result was a frank assessment of the Canadian women’s team’s evolution since he took the coaching job after the 2011 Women’s World Cup. He told the audience that he inherited a broken, passionless team that was willing to blame everyone but themselves for their failures.
That Canadian team, despite high expectations under then-head coach Carolina Morace, had finished dead last at the 2011 World Cup, after threats of going on strike over funding issues.
Herdman said what he inherited was a “toxic culture.” He said the team was “broken.” In less than a year, that same core of players won a bronze medal at the London Olympics. According to Herdman, there are three contributors to success: Vision, passion and discipline. But without passion for what he or she does, no one will endure the discipline needed to achieve a goal.
“When I picked the Canadian team up, the discipline wasn’t there, because the passion wasn’t there. They’d forgotten what it meant to play for Canada,” he said.
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