Sunday, March 21, 2010

Trainwrecks and Bingles - but Resilient Clarke Bats On

There is nothing I need or wish to do to contribute to the media circus surrounding the (former) relationship of Michael Clarke and Lara Bingle except to say that Michael Clarke is a fascinating case study in resilience or if you prefer the more colloquial, "mental toughness". From what we can gather, he came to a conclusion that he needed to be somewhere other than where he was (New Zealand to play for Australia), came home to Oz, executed his decision to end his relationship, surrounded himself with family and friends, had some dark moments at a pub (pictures happily snapped by other pub patrons), went back to New Zealand, spent some time in the nets retraining with the red cricket ball - he had played for some weeks with a white ball in the Twenty20 games after all - and then hit a record breaking knock of 168!

If you study his press conference, and allowing for the rehearsed pieces of script which re-occurred over and over again to fill the space and block the obvious questions he did not really want to answer at any length ("It's just great to be back here in NZ and I am really looking forward to Friday”), he cited the support from his captain Ricky Ponting and his head coach Tim Nielsen as integral to his ability to leave for a time and then be able to return and cope. He allowed himself to feel weakness and sadness at some point while he was home and then appeared to pick himself up, dust himself off, refocus on his “job", anticipate some further challenges (e.g. sledging from his NZ competitors), but laugh on occasion and demonstrate he had some insight into how the whole saga may have looked to everyone else.

He accepted philosophically the inevitable fascination others can have for the lives of professional athletes on and off the field and noted that everyone has their jobs to do including the media. Thus he was able to be creative in the frame he put around the hammering he received publically and I certainly got the sense he would cope with any sledging that came his way as he reminded us all he had copped it many times before; thus importantly affirming for himself his ability to survive that. His innings and the partnership with Marcus North which put Australia in a strong position, are blatant evidence of an outstanding ability to push through adversity by being more than mentally tough. He demonstrated he was being self aware and strategic.

1. Resilient people, first and foremost, are self aware. They know what they feel and why.
2. They handle crucial and difficult conversations (e.g. relationships bust ups)
3. They have tools and strategies to get them back on track.
4. They are big enough to admit they need help and support and know what kind of help they require and where to get it.
5. They are also able to maintain their sense of humour, as evidenced with Clarke
6. They have self belief that is not easily shaken
7. They are creative in the way they construe events that could bring other people down i.e. they maintain an internal voice that is constructive and serves to enhance their performance.

However much Michael and Lara may have become the butt of other people’s ridicule in past weeks, I believe Michael Clarke has emerged as an impressive ambassador for resilience and a most worthy future captain of Australia given the inevitable pressure that accompanies such a high profile role in our sports-obsessed nation.

1 comment:

  1. A lovely way to describe what a resilient person is and a great example - I don't think the word is used often enough and yet it should be.