Below is an extract from my upcoming book. “And Then What….” is a look into just what it takes emotionally to make it when you follow your dreams. The pitfalls that lie ahead. I tackle self belief, ego, fear, passion to need and many other emotional blocks to our true performance potential.
Chapter 3 – Ego, The Silent Killer The phone rang. A name I was always comforted by appeared on the screen. But today, I didn’t need any comfort. All was well; I was in a completely carefree place. ‘Hi mate.’ Said a familiar voice ‘Hey.’ I replied. ‘I don’t know how to start this…’ He said. ‘Go on. It’s fine, just say what you need to say.’ One week into the new football season and I hadn’t had many offers. Unsurprising, as I’d barely played the previous season. I’d had a terrible twelve weeks since the end of the previous season. Fear had overwhelmed me. Trials, rejections, self doubt and tears; and through it all my ego had been slowly smashed to pieces. I had already had a trial at Rotherham United. It was full of pressure and my mind was living in a world of worst case scenarios. I had huffed and puffed my way through 90 minutes against Scunthorpe United. They chose not to sign me that night. Instead, manager Mark Robins, signed a young athlete, Ruben Reid, who went on to have a wonderful season. Ironically, as my strike partner. On August 5th the phone rang: ‘Drewe, it’s Mark Robins.’ ‘Hi Mark.’ ‘Have you got a club yet?’ ‘No.’ I said. ‘Look, come up here. I can’t get my number one target for eight weeks, so come and train and we will see if we can offer you something.’ I drove up that Tuesday morning in August. I felt beaten. My ego crushed. I had surrendered. Surrendered to life, to football. To my need to control and control and try to steer myself towards my goals. I trained Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I just played; I just ran. I just helped a mate out who needed me to bail him out. I sweated. I pushed. I laughed; yes, I laughed! Laughter and me have always had a strange relationship. The true Drewe is a funny guy. He’s the kind of guy who would always be centre of the party. I always had that ability, on and off the pitch. ‘You’ll be on a 4 week contract at £250 a week.’ Ron said. ‘Amazing.’ I said. They were actually going to pay me money to play this wonderful game and keep fit? ‘Drewe, £250 a week. That’s an eighth of what you earned last year.’ ‘Yeah, I know. I hope you told them yes and I can’t wait.’ I replied. Ron knew me by now. The unpredictability, the zero to hero, the creative gifts and the self-destruct button; all in one body, no less. I must say, though, even he was shocked at my response. Over the next four weeks I played some of the best football of my career. I scored five goals, I led the line, I played fearlessly and with the absence of anything other than my God given soul. I was the leader I always was. People were shocked at the levels I was playing at. I became central to Rotherham’s incredible season. Now, here’s the tragedy; it lasted ten weeks at best. As I started to get headlines and notoriety again, as the glory and admiration poured in. The voice that I thought was dead, a voice I thought I had finally defeated, started to whisper. The whispers turned to calling and the calling turned to deafening shouting. ‘Who are you kidding? No pressure, but you think you can keep this up? You think it’s that easy? You can train and have a laugh with your teammates, but if you want to get to the top, you’re going to need to do more.’ My ego screamed at me. Do more. Two words that have plagued my life. ‘Nothing is enough’ are three more. You see, my ego had been destroyed because it was built on exterior things; identity as a player, car, money, etc. Now, I was stripped back and my creative source was back at my core. I rose quickly, I always did. But, the curse of a gift, a destiny or a calling is that I believe on our deepest level we know what we’re capable of. And, we won’t rest until we achieve it. I was on route. I was being my natural self, achieving and getting glory. That deep part of me got excited. ‘You’re back.’ ‘You’re on track.’ ‘Come on, you have to do it this time.’ It said. The tragedy is, I couldn’t understand back then that I was en route only because I had surrendered to my powerlessness to control. I’m better than you. I look down on you. I will smile at you but deep down I’m twice the person you are. I can’t possibly be seen with him/them; what would people think of me? I need to be seen as elite, not average or normal. Just look what they’re wearing. Please tell me I’m the best. Tell me how wonderful I am; that you can’t live without me, that I’m irreplaceable. These are some of the many thoughts that have led and defined me for the best part of 23 years of my life. Between the ages of 10 and 33 that’s who I was, or at least, I thought that was the case. Ego is a word that, just like self-belief, is bandied about so readily. In my experience, it’s said without any understanding of its meaning or origin; ‘He has got a big ego,’ people will say. Other comments like: ‘They are a team of big egos, it will take some managing,’ are commonplace. The truth is, ego was a slow and silent killer for me. It was so misunderstood, so undetected it drove me and consistently sabotaged my true potential, who I actually was and what I was capable of. We don’t know who we are because it’s so buried and lost. We are who we tell ourselves we are, our mind made version. All of our accolades, our place in a family or in society. We tell ourselves we are important and that we matter and that we are someone. At our core we have wonderful gifts. We have everything we need in order to complete our destiny , It’s all there. As we align ourselves with truly who we are, we achieve some stuff but, this is not who we are.