Great Expectations

Sir Alex Ferguson hand-picked fellow Scot David Moyes to be his successor. It’s a bit of a mystery why – Sir Alex had United winning things. To put things into context, in the time that Moyes was with Everton both Portsmouth and Wigan won the FA Cup, and Middlesbrough, Birmingham City and Swansea City had all won the League Cup. Everton had won nothing. Nothing at all in all the time he was there. However, surely anyone could walk into United and win, it’s just in their DNA, right?

Not necessarily. The problem is that while Sir Alex had been tweaking, others had been making wholesale changes. The other problem, and the biggest one, was the David Moyes isn’t Alex Ferguson. Ferguson had created a persona that dominated the game as much as some of the players. He created a vision of the club and he was part of it, and rightly so. However, anyone moving into his office would have had some of the similar struggles of having to deal with the great expectations of the job. You can’t just take the place of a legend, but at the same time, you can’t dismantle the processes that had created many legends over the years. Above all else, you have to find a way to reinvent the vision and make it bigger. How could Moyes, who hadn’t won anything at this level, ever hope to inspire a team of champions who had won more top flight silverware in previous year than he had in his entire career?

Bring the vision!

This was a chance for him to reinvent himself, create a new version of himself, one that demanded the very highest standards of his team and of himself. Instead of trying to shape his environment and change the way things were, he could have been the one to adapt to his new world. He never really seemed to fit the picture of a competitor who was going to push his team to be all-or-nothing, and be completely shocked when the return was nothing. He had experienced, and accepted too much losing in his time, and this was the difference between some unknown Scottish guy rolling into the gates of Old Trafford in 1986, and a known Scot taking charge in 2013. Winning. It may have been with Aberdeen, but they won. Ferguson knew what winning felt like and he knew how to make it happen. Mindset, expectations, and what you are going to expect as a minimum from your efforts are the keys to success.

Here are the three takeaways for today:

1 – The king is dead, long live the king! Such a phrase has been used many times over the years, and both history and sport have shown a change of leader can make or break the country or team.

2 – If you swing a hammer at a sponge and a brick, it is the brick that breaks, the sponge absorbs, adapts, and bounces back. Adapting to the environment and challenges is critical for ongoing success.

3 – Choose your goals, and ask yourself how much will you sacrifice before you are prepared to accept defeat, and how much will your habits hinder you? Are you determined to create new paths for success? This will tell you how much you really want it, and whether your are ready to go all out for success.

In some ways the challenge presented to Moyes was much harder than that taken on by Ferguson. Ferguson had nothing to lose. Moyes had it all to  lose. He had a job for life and a reputation as someone who somehow managed to survive without results in a results oriented business. To be successful he would have needed to allow his own mindset to be changed into the mindset of United. Sir Alex used to say no man was bigger than the club, and Moyes found out the hard way what happens when someone tries to alter the DNA of success.

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