Life, Success and Arsene Wenger
So those who know me (even remotely well) know that I am a massive Arsenal Football Club fan.
Arsenal is a club that I've supported since I was 9 years old, through the great years and the bad years. It is the longest relationship I have held outside of my immediate family and my love for the club is emotional, irrational, illogical and wonderful.
And anyone who knows that about me, knows how much I love (yes, love) and respect, Arsene Wenger, the man who transformed Arsenal into what it is today. The Greatest Manager the club has ever had, and likely will have.
Which is why I was so excited to hear about the NBCSN Special report "Wenger20: Inside The Mind of Arsene Wenger", which marks the 20th anniversary of his time in charge of the club. It is quite brief (less than 30 minutes) but it is a fascinating look into the mind of the kind of person we don't see in the world of modern football. Someone who infuses values and principles with the desire for success. Someone for whom simply winning isn't enough, but winning with style.
Beyond the football talk, it's an instructive watch for anyone who is interested in learning about what it takes to succeed, longevity, tenacity and performance. Some notable highlights:
On his secret to longevity:
"I think (football) is a good school of humility, a good lesson as well for every individual who thinks 'I've found the secret'. In the next game, football will show you you've found absolutely nothing at all."
On the choice between playing beautiful football or winning ugly:
"You don’t think like that. You think the best way to win is to play football where everybody expresses his talent...nobody has all the qualities, but in a team sport what is very interesting is to develop the strong qualities of each player and to put a harmony and put that to work together and then be efficient as a unit."
On setting lofty, often inconceivable goals (referring to the Invincibles team that went unbeaten for an entire season, a feat unmatched by any modern football team):
"If you set high targets sometimes you do not achieve them as quickly as you imagined you could do them, but if you maintain it, on a longer period you can get it."
On how he maintains a sense of optimism (my personal favorite):
"It’s nourished by a naïve belief in human beings. My job basically is to say to people, “You do it for me, I believe in you.” If you experience that in a negative way, you become paranoid. If you believe in people, that they want to do their best, you’re an optimist. That may be naïve, but it’s like that."
On the most important life lesson:
"The most important life lesson is that you meet in your life the possibility to share the values that are important to you. And why did I stay at Arsenal? You know that I had plenty of opportunities to go to very glamorous clubs, but I think when you’ve found what is important for you – that means, you share the values that are important for you with your club – don’t be stupid enough just for an ego or a glory problem, to go somewhere else. I’m very proud of that. I resisted attractions that looked much more glorious just to be faithful to what I believe is right in life."
Wonderful stuff. His words apply as much in sport as it does in business and life in general. Give it a watch.
Arsene Wenger. Legend.
(Thanks to Arseblog News for the transcript)