English: Ryan Giggs

Ryan Giggs with another trophy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I watched the Manchester United versus Bayern Leverkusen Champions League match a couple of weeks ago and marveled at the Red Devils’ Ryan Giggs, who was to turn 40 later that week, as he pulled the strings in midfield in United’s 5-0 win.

I’m old enough to remember Giggs when he was still a teenager and his precocious talent burst onto the international football stage.  He had marvellous skill and a remarkable burst of speed, but no-one could have imagined that he would still be playing for the same club and at such a high level more than 20 years and 950+ games later.

As a sports fan, I’ve seen many brilliant talents, but it’s rare that they are able to turn that into such an extraordinary career.

I believe that everyone is a 10 at something, but again it’s not often that people turn their phenomenal potential into phenomenal results, so what can we learn from an amazing footballer like Ryan Giggs?

Prepare yourself for the long haul – Giggs is a terrific natural athlete, but it’s his ability to continually maintain his physical conditioning that has seen him remain competitive at the age of 40.  He realised early on that if he looked after himself at an elite level, he minimised the risk of serious injury and could keep playing well after his contemporaries had retired.

Whatever you want to do with your life, make sure that you don’t burn out too quickly.  Look after yourself physically and look beyond this year, five years and even 10 years time.

Keep learning and growing – When Giggs first burst onto he scene, he was a dashing left winger, but as the years took some of his pace away, he developed the skills to play a more central midfield role and has managed to extend his career by many years as a result.  Now, he’s working on his coaching badges and is assisting new manager, David Moyes, in a coaching role with the squad, ensuring that his football career will continue even when his playing days are over.

The day that you stop learning is that day that others pass you by and you risk becoming out of date.  Whatever you do, keep working on your craft and never stop learning.  Read books, attend seminars, listen to industry related podcasts or get a mentor.

Maintain your motivation for success – Of all of Ryan Giggs’ achievements, perhaps the most astonishing is the 13 Premier League Winner’s Medals that he’s won with Manchester United.  He’s a winner and has consistently found a way to remain motivated whilst driving his team to success.  Many more talented players have graced a football pitch, but I can’t imagine anyone beating this record.

Zig Ziglar once said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last.  Well, neither does bathing and that’s why we recommend it daily.”

If you want to maximise the potential that you’ve been given, don’t rest on your laurels after one great result.  Keep pushing yourself to greater heights and find a way to sustain your motivation.

Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of people who are extremely talented who peaked early and underachieved.

Conversely, I’ve met many people who have been able to prepare themselves for the long haul, kept learning and growing, and maintained their motivation for success.

And in doing so, they’ve turned their natural talent into extraordinary results.

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