Sleepless selections

It has been a big weekend. The Walker Cup selectors met on Sunday to put names on the tickets for Merion in September. After I read Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons I struggle to picture anything other than his description of how the new pope was selected when I think of the selection committee. A group of very serious men gather in a room and when the white smoke comes out of the chimney the decision has been made. Although not quite that dramatic every selection is pretty important to the players concerned. If it is a trip to play the US in the Walker Cup it is a BIG deal and if it is to represent your home country in the Home Internationals it could be almost as big, especially if you have not done it before. All the Home Unions traditionally select their teams after the National Championships and Luke Goddard as the English Champion nicely made his way into the English team over the weekend.

Almost as sleepless as waiting to find out whether you have been picked or not is to have to deliver the verdict of non selection. As a player you obviously want to know why somebody else has been put in front of you, especially if you feel you deserve that spot. However, players do not pick teams. Selectors, coaches and managers do. Whenever I have struggled to deliver a difficult decision I have always been helped by the simple exercise to clarify what kind of information my senses have given me. “I saw” or “I heard” are the only two ways in which I can pick up information from the world around me. Very often we tend to confuse that with “I feel” but as soon as I get into that I have started interpreting what I have seen or heard. How often have we not heard things like “you looked nervous”? Have you ever thought about what nervous looks like?

My advice therefore when you want to find out a bit more about a decision, whether it is about selection or something else, ask the two golden questions:

– “What did you see that caused you to make that decision?”

– “What did you hear that caused you to make that decision?”

Based on those answers you then have a chance to improve and/or change. Another interesting way of doing this I found in a basketball team where the management team had agreed, with the players, that the selected players would get the call from the manager. The non selected ones would get it from the coach. So when the phone rang and the coach was at the other end, the decision had already been delivered. All the coach needed to do was to explain why.

 If it had been easy though, anybody could have done it… Selections for Walker Cup and Home Internationals will be posted on the relevant web sites shortly.

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