Being Human

On the face of things, there are many reasons we have to stop ourselves reacting to people in need we see on the street. They do not necessarily have to be homeless. They may just be someone who has fallen over. They may be an adult with many children that need help – perhaps one has got sick, and the adult has a baby in the stroller or arm. But stepping in to help is more of a thing people increasingly do less, because they don’t want to overextend themselves.

So imagine perhaps if you have overextended yourself to help someone in need. They may have fallen over in the street, or become unconscious, or in some way been unable to look after themselves and be trusted to be safe. You stay with them until you are convinced that they are safe, help has been delivered and you are safe to carry on. Now because you have been with them for a long time, you are perhaps suddenly aware that you have your own needs to attend to. Perhaps you need to use the public facilities. You head inside a pub or cafe outside which help has just been rendered and just before you are about to step in, the staff politely inform you that toilets are for patrons only. Never mind that this is just outside the place where you had given help, rules are rules, and not meant to be broken. Never mind that the staff had seen that you had given help. Would you think this unreasonable?

If you had spent three hours talking someone off jumping off a bridge, and then needed some physical respite, would it be unreasonable?

If you stopped to help a stranger who was injured and had your clothes covered in blood, would it be unreasonable to expect to use the toilet to clean up?
Or if you stayed with a stranger on the street in the cold because there was someone else threatening them and they feared being alone, would having a cup of tea for your efforts be reasonable – without having to put a price on every action?

The composer Vaughan Williams was famous for his generosity and willingness to embrace his fellow human beings. Apparently he once donated the earnings from a published book to help someone on the streets. (You can read more about Vaughan Williams from the pp@funcraft.infoPosted on Categories player motivationTags

Dressing for the job

Can your style of dress affect your chances of promotion at work? Some people claim that this could be true. If you dress to impress, and dress for the job you aim to get, you might find you have put yourself in the frame when the time comes when a position is being vacated. In fact, some suggest that you even dress like the person who you could be potentially replacing!

Of course this may be something for which the converse may be true. If there is a job opening within your organisation, and the person vacating the position is not well-liked, wear a style that is different and offers a new perspective. Or else you will never get the position because the person in mind is someone who is different, and you will remind the interview board too much of the status quo!

Will the trend for outfit rental extend beyond special occasions and into the commonplace? This is the question to which many are trying to answer, and where opportunists may sense there is a business area ripe for commercial exploitation. And just who exactly will form the majority of the target market? It is believed that the aspirational and ambitious thirty-somethings will make up the largest share of the market, while those in the previous and later decades will form a smaller but equally significant minority. But why is that age group more susceptible to be tapped?

Sociologists believe that those that make up that age bracket in the workforce will be looking to move up before it is too late. Most people in their twenties will spend time choosing the job that gives them the career they are after, and hence they will be job hopping. As their choice of career stabilises, towards the end of their late twenties and early twenties, they will be thinking less horizontally -in other words, thinking less about different careers – and thinking more vertically; about ascending within their career. They will be coveting the higher managerial positions, the ones with the greater responsibilities and salaries, so that they are well positioned within the organisation before they reach the crucial forties.

The forties are crucial for a couple of reasons. One is that it is normally expected that people in managerial positions will be at that age, when they have accumulated some work experience and life experience. Those in their forties are the ones bossing about and lording it over the newly graduated and those starting out.

An organisation is not going to put a young member into a managing role because they are career trialling and it would not work to invest all that time in someone and train them and have them leave. And if they don’t leave, training and promoting them too soon will mean that as they progress within the organisation they are going to command higher salaries. So the first importance of the forties is that it is the age where managing positions become more open and available. And those in their thirties are going to be jostling for these opportunities, doing what it takes to get them; these includes dressing for the intended job to get noticed.

So some career advice as you approach the forties is to dress for the job you want. Look to attain a managing position. You might want to consider renting outfits if the job requires you look smart. Look at football manager Antonio Conte when he was in charge of slick Chelsea – always with his suits on. If you are football manager of a blue-collar club, then maybe a tracksuit isn’t that out of place either. The classical music composer Joseph Haydn was often derided for his clothes as a young boy, yet when he worked in the courts of Esterhazy, from his mid-thirties, his style of dress would remain impressive for the decades he spent in the managing position of music maestro. (You can learn more about Haydn from the Piano Teacher N10 website. Find out why his tomb has two skulls!)

Public relations lesson

All in all, it can be summarised as a poor week for Spurs and France football captain Hugo Lloris.

The goalkeeper was found guilty this week of a drink driving offence and fined. In addition, he will also be sanctioned by the club.

It is coincidental therefore to hear that he has sustained an injury and will be out five weeks.

One suspects that the announcement of the injury has been timed to manage the fallout of his drink driving actions.

The Tottenham public relations team have thought about it and certainly considered how to protect their club captain and key player.

By announcing that the goalkeeper has an injury, it gives him a reason for an enforced absence. The club can sanction him internally with a ban for the same period, so he serves the ban without any public loss of face. Lloris gets punished by the club, but faces no speculation caused by the absence on the pitch during the time of his punishment.

And if the press continue to write about him, the Tottenham team will focus on his injury.

And when he returns to the football team, the media team will focus on how he will have returned after his injury, not after his drink driving ban.

Fans will realise he has been disciplined, but it will have been hush hush and a low key affair.

Lloris himself will appreciate that his internal disciplinary action will have been minimised in exposure.

Michel Vorm will man the sticks in the absence of Lloris. Vorm knows he gets the next five weeks to play with the first team.

By suspending the player internally, the club save on a few weeks wages.

Lloris gets a rest after his World Cup exploits.

The third choice keeper gets to be on the sub bench.

It is a win win situation for all involved.

This was supposed to be a bad time for the Tottenham stopper, but if you look carefully at how it has been managed, the fallout has been contained.

What a lesson in public relations!

Balancing work with passion

If someone were to bring up at a social occasion the topic of work – which does occur quite often, we must admit – and talk about doing things they are passionate about, you may find that for every one of such a person, there is another who would be adamant that sometimes you simply just have to knuckle down and do what’s available. It may be an age thing – after all, those who insist that you need to follow your passions may be younger individuals who still have decades of working life ahead of them. And what is wrong to want to do something that you would like, something that would sustain you for four or more decades of work?

But I am reminded of an older family member who once remarked rather cynically that one should forget about doing things that you like, simply because it is called work, and “work isn’t meant to be enjoyable.” No one likes work. The word work implies effort, movement, will and strength to drag yourself out of inertia into impetus. And translating that into action is effortful in itself. Why waste time on a movement or activity you do not believe in?

That lust to do something you are passionate about is a good thing, but it must be balanced against the need to earn a stable living and approached with caution. If what you are passionate about is a job that does not require much entry experience (such as singing, arguably), then you will have many people competing with you for your job. Singers are forever competing with others for the buying money of Joe Public. So being passionate about something may be a good idea, but balance that with a slight resignation to do may not necessarily be thoroughly enjoyable, but which would give you something to live on!

The music composer Carl Czerny was a link between the older Classical style of Beethoven and the expressionist Franz Liszt. Just as his music blends what seems like two opposing forces of expression and form, perhaps the ideal blend, in this situation, is one that you can derive some sense of satisfaction from, while still earning a wage. You can read more about Czerny in the N8 Piano Teacher blog.

But in this football context, what would be the ideal job? It may belong to Liverpool throw-in coach Thomas Gronnemark, who admits he has possibly weirdest job in football.

Retaining Control

´╗┐Here is a story to be aware of and a lesson to be learnt. In the days of the “free” internet industry, signing up for free items and offers could actually backfire.

South African author and artists Shubnum Khan turned up for what was apparently a free photo shoot, promising a professional portrait in exchange for being snapped. At the time, the author and some university friends had gone along to the 100 Faces shoot, and thought that the picture would be used as part of art project or portfolio – in fact, she and others distinctly recall the art project line being touted a lot.

The rush in which papers were signed and photographs taken perhaps masked the true intent and purpose behind the use of the photos. Years later Shubnum would find her face used as a stock image, plastered all over the internet, and used for a variety of promotional purposes, all without her knowledge and apparent consent.

The face of the author has appeared in a variety of media – this include an advertisement in a newspaper for immigration, an advertisement for Dermolyte, and for purposes such as deviant ones, including web identities for fake testimonials. Of these, the last is perhaps the most alarming. The use of fake identities and pictures simply highlights that it is not enough to take a website at its face value, but when we are considering purchasing something, we should simply be more cynical about what we are reading.

There is also an example to be made about media that exists in digital form. When you are taking an image, a piano recording, or a poem – anything that is easily replicable in digital form, you have to be very careful about its circulation, especially if it has repercussions on you. In this previous instance, the person involved would be seen to be endorsing wherever her image appeared. If you record a piece of music, say on the piano, using microphones, and requiring sound editing, it is likely you will need the help of professionals, but the more people you involve, the more likely the chances of ill-distribution. (Find out more about recording piano music from the Crouch End Piano Teachers blog. If in doubt, try to retain control over things that you have created, or your own images!

Football players have publicity employees to help manage their image rights. We are not all necessarily going to that extent, but it highlights how something as simply as a picture of ourselves can have repercussions if the rights are given away easily.

Bringing steel to the backline

What can we make of Liverpool’s pursuit of Brazilian keeper Alisson? Months after going quiet after their Champions League exit to eventual winners Real Madrid, the Liverpool hierarchy suddenly broke cover after the World Cup, to attempt to sign the keeper that played five games and kept three clean sheets.

It has always been known that Liverpool need to shore up their backline. We know they could score goals in games. Last year they did very well when they had the fearsome foursome of Coutinho, Firminho, Salah and Mane, and possibly too much firepower, for only three of them could play at any one time. It as like having a diamond sit on the bench, and possibly with three of the four being able to play at any one time meant it was a good idea to sell Coutinho for the funds and to give him a chance to play.

But the defence – sigh…

Simon Mignolet as dropped to the second goalkeeper after his fine form while he was at Sunderland, which led to Liverpool poaching him, deserted him as he stood between the Reds sticks. And Lloris Karius, a young goalkeeper who has yet to reach the maturity and confidence, hasn’t quite managed to gain the consistency yet to manage. But you can say the same thing of Manchester United’s David de Gea, who took over from Edwin van der Sar. De Gea did not have an easy start, behind the expectations of managing the goal, but has developed into one of the finest in the world.

Perhaps we can say the same of Karius. He will have time to develop, but unfortunately his Champions League errors came at too early a stage in his career. It was a lot to ask though, a twenty-four year old to take part in the biggest stage of the footballing scene. Perhaps he will have another chance in the future. But Liverpool’s ambition to sign Alisson suggests that they see the next few years as being pivotal, and the future is now.

In the field of classical music, the introduction of tougher metal frames to hold the strings allowed the piano to take more force, and the music written for the piano changed in texture – more notes at the same time. (You can read more about this here in the Piano Teacher Finsbury Park blog. Perhaps Alisson will give the team more toughness, and allow it to take more pounding, while freeing the front line to do what it does creatively.

Factors of drive and success

Let’s take a break from the normal situation to discuss the World Cup.

What, the World Cup? Why yes – unless you’ve spent the last few weeks hiding in the shadows, distanced from life, you cannot but have helped to have been surrounded by World Cup fever. Ever been around a pub when an England game has been on? You can’t help but notice that the pubs would have been busier than usual, swathed in crowds all huddling around a TV screen, shouting words of encouragement to it, as if their words would have gone through the atmosphere and reached the footballers in Russia and given them positive emotion.

Yes, the World Cup.

Despite England dreams that this might have been the year, at the close of the competition they found themselves in fourth. Oh, the luckless draw of knockout competitions. Had England made it past Croatia, they would have found themselves in the positive situation of being the team that might have won it, with a generation of footballers still in their prime.

Unfortunately they were downed by the Croats in extra time. The Croatians themselves delivered some advice for the English team and media – don’t under-estimate us. A lack of respect can be a powerful motivator, and the Croatians had plenty of those. All they had to do was to print out the footballing discussions from websites such as BBC news or the broadsheets and tabloids, and unfortunately while we were all caught up in the celebrations of nearly making it to the final and singing “Football’s coming home”, the Croatians decided to spoil the party.

You only need to look back on the lessons of history to see how under-estimating the opponent can give them the necessary drive to succeed. Being written off gives one the inner impetus to go against the odds, to dig deeper and find the deeper strength. In the classical music world, there are other circumstances, such as childhood difficulties, expectant roles, lack of opportunity, and technological developments at the right time that have fuelled innovation, the careers of composers, and generated promising piano music.

Many factors influence success. Perhaps not under-estimating the opponent is one of the most important to remember!

The value of not being complacent

If there was a lesson to be learnt from watching the Japan – Belgium game, it was this: never be complacent, concentrate, keep fighting to the end.

You may think I have been talking about the Belgians, for the traits we associate with the Japanese are their will to keep fighting to the very end. Even in the face of defeat, giving up is a lack of honour. Remember World War Two? Dozens of kamikaze pilots crashed to their deaths, flying their planes onto ships to try to sink them. The will to keep fighting is honourable. And wasn’t it the South Koreans who pulled off an upset with Germany by their tenacity and willing to keep chasing the ball and fight, scoring two injury-time goals in the process?

Unfortunately for Japan, it was them that were outfought.

A 2-2 game seemed destined for extra time. In the last minute of play, the Japanese had a corner with forty seconds remaining. Everyone assumed this would be the last forward play of the game, and a corner, if unsuccessful, would result in the referee blowing the whistle. Instead of passing the ball short, the Japanese merely lobbed the ball hopefully into the goal area, where Thibault Courtois caught it easily. You might have thought he would have played it short, moved it forward slowly, or take his time, wait for his players to go up, and then lob one long into the area. Instead he quickly rolled it short to Kevin de Bruyne, and four Belgian players raced ahead to launch a counterattack that resulted in Nacer Chadli scoring an injury-time goal. No need for extra time. Actually, the whole world watching had been out-foxed. No one watching that game would have expected that counterattack with the last play of the game.

What lessons can we take from the game? The first is of course, not to get complacent. If you are like everyone else, you would have merely assumed that extra time would roll along. But the Belgians created their own opportunities, sensing a chance to win. The Japanese team might have thought they would have the last attack of the game, and in all fairness, so did we; but fatigue confuses the mind, and probably the sensory overload of time management and game tactic caused a lap of concentration that paid dearly. This can happen in any area; in fact, a Crouch End piano teacher reckons that one of the problems children face in learning the piano is the overload of work conflicted with the lack of time for self actualisation, that causes a lack of physical activity (in this case, piano practice).

And what a good week for Marouane Fellaini! New Manchester United contract, a goal in the game, an immediate impact as a substitute. Next stop – Brazil! The Belgians are on form at the moment and the operatic Neymar best raise his game!

Creating a post-career legacy

The World Cup has, in the group stages, shown up a few clear signals.

The Spanish hesitation between Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos in midfield, allowing Morocco to nip the ball and race it forty yards for a score, demonstrate that both are in the twilight of the careers. Iniesta, long regarded as Mr Football, is off to China for his final payday, while Sergio Ramos merely showed why he had to chicken-wing Mo Salah out of the Champions League final. He no longer has the pace that he had in his early career, racing down the right sideline as right back before he became a centreback by conversion. Ramos realises that he is losing out in terms out physical fitness, and has to rely on guile, experience and deception. In fact, he has realised that for years. In the previous Champions League final against Juventus, he feigned a foul to get Juan Cuadrado sent off and Juve down to ten men.

The sort of play acting that is synonymous with football is spoiling it. It appears to be a Spanish affair, learnt from the Italian leagues in the 80s and 90s – you could barely watch a game without stoppages disrupting the flowing football. Players that play in the Spanish leagues, such as Neymar and Pepe, have all been guilty of trying to con the referee into awarding the other team cards in order to gain a numerical advantage through a sending off.

It is almost as if they realise that physically they cannot match up, so they have to win by other means.

A more graceful thing to do would be to find an avenue where they can still dominate. For players coming up to the end of their careers, now is the time to be thinking about coaching badges, while working with their team and coach to develop coaching experience. In the musical world, the music composer Muzio Clementi became not just a composer, publisher, and conductor, but also moved on to making pianos. Someone like Ramos could learn to coach, be a manager, or become an owner in a minor-league team. Or run a kung-fu academy and develop some business experience.

Mentoring is also an important process. Did you know that as the pianist Carl Czerny was mentored by other composers, and when he became established, he also mentored others, introducing them to other established ones such as the pianist Beethoven? It was somewhat like networking. A footballer in their latter days could help mentor younger players and introduce them to established players who might share their knowledge of the game.

You may argue that trophies and awards are what define winners. Perhaps. But a person’s legacy is far more lasting in the kind of person he was. For now, Ramos will be remembered as the play actor and the bruiser.

No signs of slowing for Cris

If you have not yet watched the thrilling World Cup match between Portugal and Spain then you had best get it on some kind of TV catch up.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick in the game. Twice Portugal led and Spain were brought back to level terms by the physical play and skill of Diego Costa, but when Portugal trailed in the closing stages and had a free kick outside the Spanish box, there was only one man you knew who would take it.

Up came Ronaldo, curling the ball around the right side of the wall, past Real Madrid team-mate Sergio Ramos (yes, that guy who took out Mo Salah in the Champions League), and past Manchester United keeper David de Gea, who was flatfooted and rooted to the spot. There was nothing he could do about the free kick, because the wall had been placed to his left, but the ball had such bend to it that even de Gea could not have anticipated it would have gone in from that side. He more or less had trusted the wall to protect that side, but even Ramos’ attempt to flick the ball away had no effect.

Spain might have had a chance to win the game had Ramos decided, in the same way he had done Salah, to chicken-wing Ronaldo out of the game by injuring his shoulder ligaments, and taking out the opposing team’s best player, but that would have been a one-way exit out of Madrid for the captain. Don’t put it past him, though. And don’t put it past Ronaldo either. Wasn’t he the guy who got ex-team mate Wayne Rooney sent off in a game, before being caught giving a devilish wink as if to say, yes, I’d intended for him to get sent off?

Say what you like about Ronaldo, though, at age 33 he is still showing no signs of slowing down. Like Ryan Giggs, he still looks like he has a few good years left in him. His technique hasn’t suffered, but is it because of the recent changes in balls that has resulted in him scoring more goals? When the ball technology was improved, many people were ambivalent about them, but that is pretty normal, because new things start from the periphery and end up in the mainstream when accepted or tolerated over time, as this Stroud Green piano teacher tells us, using music as an example. Now kids are buying the balls and wanting to demonstrate skills – such is their popularity. Has Ronaldo drawn more followers to football, or have footballs drawn more followers to Ronaldo? That is one you have to decide for yourself!

Ronaldo’s three goals meant he equalled Ferenc Puskas’ record of 84 goals in European competitions. One can surmise he will be going calmly past the mark with a bit more calm and ease.