How we devised the Rules For Life

How we devised the Rules for Life


Many of you have been asking how we came up with the 10 Rules For Life and why these ones in particular, so the guys are happy for me to share how and why: I had met the sportsmen individually on a few occasions, then they suggested meeting up as a group to create the list of rules during a very focused and dynamic 3 hour discussion in a great location. I asked what had been the most important to them during their short careers in international sport and what had held them back the most.

Rule #1 seems to be the key for them; it originated from the harsh comments they had sometimes received from the Press or ‘fans’ whilst they were competing, as well as criticisms made by acquaintances and strangers, both verbally and online. The boys understood the power of Emotional Intelligence and once they realized what was driving the abusers behaviour, i.e. usually jealousy, they were able to move on completely, gain more confidence and create real focus.

Stamping out their inner negative voice had been crucial when competing and now they are using techniques to ensure that they will remain positive in order to be successful in pursuing careers outside sport. In addition they have their own gurus, usually other international sportsmen, whom they admire and regularly quote. I added some thoughts from other sources, which they adopted, such as Brian Tracy: ‘You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.’  And Sarah Knight: ‘You have no control over what other people think…all you can control is your behavior.’

Once they appreciated that other peoples’ opinions, feelings and judgements were all outside their control they felt liberated and empowered to concentrate even more on their own efforts and actions. As a consequence they felt less anxiety and fear about the future which created more emotional space and energy to devote to pursuing their new goals.

Rule #2: followed on naturally from Rule # 1. If you don’t worry about what people think and say about you, it will be easier to break through the fear and concern about the possible negative consequences of trying out different options and living your life to the full, all whilst aiming to ‘realize your true potential’. However, as everything in life is a balance, they felt that they needed to learn from their mistakes, not beat themselves up for making them, and instead strive to continually develop.  As Albert Einstein said: ‘A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.’

Rule #3: Again this rule followed naturally from the first two. In order to be able to remain focused and strong it is key to have the courage and bravery off the pitch/track/out of the pool and to be able to say: ‘I can and I will. Watch me.’

Rule #4: As we were getting a bit serious, one of the former athletes suggested this rule and if you keep thinking it and reading it, you can’t help but smile. US pyschologist Dr Richard Carlson recommended smiling more and saying a cheery ‘Hello’ as you walk in the office every morning.  Try it and see what happens! As Ralph Marston says: ‘Happiness is a choice not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come to you. It can only come from you.’

Rule #5: As former professional athletes the guys were used to eating the right foods and exercising almost every day. They are keen to continue to do so to keep physically fit and their minds fresh.  Their high protein diets include lots of chicken and fish, always eaten with plenty of green vegetables and salad, with brown rice often providing the carbs. Sugar, fat and wheat are avoided.  Of course they are human so they enjoy the occasional alcoholic drink but are aware that it is a depressant and ‘time-stealer’.

Rule #6: This rule makes a subtle change to Horace’s advice ‘Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero’ to seize the day and pay little attention to the future. The guys know only too well that success, fame and wealth are short-lived and that they need to balance living in the moment with making plans for the rest of their lives.

Rule #7: In their respective sports, whether the boys were working towards team promotion or qualification for Tokyo 2020, they were aiming to be at the top of their game; being forced to adjust their plans they are applying the same ethos to their re-training and career choices, focusing on becoming the best pilot/entrepreneur/ski instructor/commentator or whatever career they decide to work towards.

Rule #8: In their various sports the guys were used to being assertive and accountable for their words and actions. Once they had overcome the fear and weight of being solely in control of their own destinies they understood that they had to take full responsibility for their words and behaviours outside the safety of their managed team environments; being honest and true to their own values is even more important now.

Rule #9: Respect is a key value in most sports teams. The guys understand the potential to go quickly from hero to zero and in their drive to succeed they are aware of the need to respect everyone; so another mantra they adopted is: ‘Treat people the way you want to be treated. Talk to people the way you want to be talked to. Respect is earned, not given.’

Rule #10: The boys’ initial dreams have been dashed at a relatively young age but they are determined to adapt, create new goals and concentrate their efforts and attention on achieving career success outside sport. They like the words of author G. Kingsley Ward: ‘Dare to dream. Dare to try, dare to fail.  Dare to succeed.’


Thank you to the guys and to all those who have provided such great feedback on the Rules for Life. We’re really pleased that they have provided motivation and direction to so many. Here’s one of our favourites from Roslyn Kelly; we like her call to action:

One of the most inspiring people I’ve met is Jill Maidment, Coach and Mentor to senior execs across Europe and we talked about the value of time away to reflect, reignite & remember your “Why?” Really enjoyed her piece and agree with 4, 7 & 9 a lot! Take a peak and see how many you apply!

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