Lee Davy compares his current difficulties in taking action with Manchester United’s failure to turn possession into goals.
I am red through and through.
These days I can barely watch.
It’s not the lack of results. It’s not the piss poor performances. It’s the unnerving feeling that Manchester United is failing in the same way that I am.
Last night I went to the pub to watch their Champions League match against PSV Eindhoven. Despite United looking shoddy in their Premier League outings, I believe they play the type of football that is better suited to the Champions League. I was feeling optimistic. I felt we would come away with at least a point.
It didn’t take long for me to change my mind. United looked sharp. Depay was linking well with Martial, Schweinsteiger dominated the midfield, and Luke Shaw was barreling down the left like a man possessed. This would be a doddle. Even after Shaw was stretchered off with a broken leg, United still looked the business. When Depay put them one-nil up in the 41st minute the game was over. I ordered another cup of tea, slipped off my shoes and put my feet up.
There was a time when United went ahead they never lost. I vaguely remember a statistic where they had gone on a run stretching well over a year where this simply didn’t happen. Now it’s happened twice in the space of a fortnight. There is something not right at United, and it feels familiar.
United had 67% of the possession against PSV and ended up losing 2-1. In the Premier League United average 59% possession against their opponents. Louis van Gaal talks a lot about his philosophy, and it’s obvious it involves retaining control of the football.
So how does a team that dominates possession end up losing so often?
They aren’t shipping it.
Football teams don’t win titles because they keep possession of the football. They win titles because they concede fewer goals, and score more goals than their opponents. When you put the ball in the back of the net you are shipping it (a term I picked up from Seth Godin that means ‘getting shit done’).
Manchester United is not shipping it.
Manchester United is not getting shit done.
Manchester United is not putting the ball in the back of the net.
We can all learn from United’s failure to ship it, and I am a classic example of that learning.
I spend a lot of time and money on my education. I have purchased some of the top online courses in the business of self-development and entrepreneurship, I read all of the best books and take advice from some terrific mentors.
I have a lot of possession.
But I don’t stick the ball into the back of the net.
I don’t ship.
In the past few months I have lost a number of important writing contracts. The money I have lost has been significant. It suddenly dawned on me that if I lost my CalvinAyre contract I would be in a situation I had never experienced before. I wouldn’t have enough income coming in to cover the bills.
As a freelance writer I need to take more control of my destiny. I cannot rely on other forces to pay my bills. I know this. This is why I spend so much money on my personal development. I have a lot of great ideas. I have plans. But I am not shipping. I keep knocking the ball sideward, sometimes backward; I never see the whites of a goalkeeper’s eyes.
I am like United.
There is no cutting edge. I am not ruthless. I do not take action. I am too busy, and too comfortable learning. I have become afraid of moving forward. I am paralyzed by fear.
What if people don’t like what I do?
What if my products don’t work?
What if I fail?
What if I write something that people hate?
Seth Godin blames my lack of shipping on my lizard brain. Steven Pressfield calls it ‘Resistance’ in his great book the War of Art. It’s the little voice inside your head that’s comfortable with the status quo, hates change and wants you to only take action in areas you are comfortable with.
Seth Godin believes in order to be successful you need to go to war with the lizard brain. Steven Pressfield believes in order to beat resistance you also need to go to war by making a decision to turn pro.
“Ship often. Ship lousy stuff, but ship. Ship constantly. Ship. The resistance is waiting. Fight it. Ship.” Says Godin.
Manchester United needs to buy a striker or a talented central midfielder. Without them they won’t ship. I don’t need to do that. I have all the qualities I need to ship. I just need to grow a set of balls and start taking action.
Before last night Luke Shaw was one of the most promising left backs in the world. This morning he is lying in a hospital bed in Eindhoven knowing that he will miss the entire season, and might never be the same player that he promised to be.
A few seconds.
His life changed.
That can happen to me.
That can happen to you.
Don’t wait for it.