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Anything is Possible with Gareth Southgate

Photo of Gareth Southgate's book Anything is Possible with an iphone, keyboard and glasses on a desk.

"If I can go from a skinny, introverted teenager who was told he wouldn't make it as a player to someone who played and managed his country then I'm clear that 'anything is possible'.

Gareth Southgate is England Manager of the senior men's team. He is also a former professional footballer. At the 2018 World Cup, Gareth's inspirational leadership and his 'anything is possible' mindset helped to bring the nation together, leading the Three Lions to the semi-finals and one of their best performances at a tournament in decades. 

In this book he shares his approach 'which focuses on what we might achieve, instead of worrying about what might go wrong' with children and parents to help young people thrive and achieve their own dreams.

Gareth's humble, positive and compassionate style has earned him praise on and off the pitch. In 2018 Gareth received an OBE and was awarded Coach of the Year at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards. And as a Goodwill Ambassador for The Prince's Trust, Gareth has supported the Trust's Future Leaders Programme, which helps give young people skills in leadership and teamwork.

We're delighted to be able to include an extract below from the chapter, "Obstacles to Opportunities" from Anything is Possible by Gareth Southgate.


Anything is Possible with Gareth Southgate

By nature, I am an introvert. This means I can be on the quiet side, and tend to get my energy from time on my own. As a teenager, it meant I wasn’t totally comfortable with big gatherings like parties, or even walking into a changing room full of players. I was always the one who kept my head down and hoped nobody would take the mickey out of me.

At the same time, there are plenty of people who thrive in this kind of environment. They’re often classed as extroverts. While they might be bored or restless on their own, extroverts find it easy to chat and joke around with others, and are comfortable when the spotlight is on them.

There is no right or wrong here. Some people are just naturally more outgoing than others. We’re all wired differently after all, and that’s part of what makes us unique.

If we’re hoping to pursue a dream or ambition, then it’s vital that we understand ourselves first. And that’s not just about working out what we’re good at. While it’s great to be able to play to our strengths, it’s perhaps more important that we understand our weaknesses. That way, we have a chance to address them, and even turn things around so we don’t hold ourselves back.

Anything is Possible with Gareth Southgate

When we talk about obstacles to success, it’s easy to think about things beyond our control. Maybe you head to the local pool for a training session to find it’s closed for maintenance, or can’t join a local summer football camp because it’s fully booked. Whatever we might find standing in our way, there’s always a means of overcoming it. Whether it’s switching to a workout on dry land or finding an alternative camp that’s further away and requires a bike ride to get there and back, determination and creative thinking can take us far.

But what about those obstacles we create for ourselves? We’re talking here about aspects of our character that hold us back, and which can quickly persuade us to give up chasing a goal or a dream. These obstacles of our own making lurk in our own minds, and often come down to a lack of confidence in ourselves. As a result, we delay or ditch an undertaking because we don’t feel good enough. Sadly, bailing out like this can further reinforce the feeling that we’re not cut out to do remarkable things with our lives.

The good news is that by learning to understand our different qualities, including the things that may stop us from fulfilling our potential, we can learn to conquer our weaknesses and even turn them into strengths. So, let’s look at some common character traits that can work against us – and the strategies we can use to overcome them.

Anything is Possible with Gareth Southgate


What’s the problem?

We all have worries to varying degrees, which is a way of describing how it feels to be anxious. Anxiety is a natural response to a difficult or stressful situation. Think of it as an internal alarm system – one that’s triggered by our brains to signal that we need to focus on finding a way to deal with the matter at hand. This is sometimes no bad thing.

In some ways, a little anxiety can help us take the necessary steps to complete a task – whether it’s revising for exams or learning lines for a school play. The most effective way to deal with a worry is by acting on it, after all.

It can become a problem, however, if those worries won’t go away, or if you find they kick in over the slightest thing. When this happens, turning your attention to a goal or ambition can be a trigger for stress, sleepless nights, and even physical symptoms like dizziness and nausea. Mild worries and anxiety can make it tempting to put your goal off or even abandon your idea completely; severe anxiety can affect your whole life.

What’s going on?

In sounding the alarm bell over a worry, a fright or a stressful situation, the brain sends a signal to the body to release a natural hormone called adrenalin into the bloodstream. This can raise our heart rate and quicken our breathing, and it’s designed to trigger a ‘fight or flight’ response. That’s fine in the face of a physical threat, but not much use if you’re dwelling on the fact that you might not perform well at an upcoming football trial. You can’t fight a worry like that, or run away from it. As a result, the adrenalin can cause you to stew, and turn a minor concern into a crisis that literally leaves you feeling sick.

How to manage it

Not all anxiety can be overcome or managed without professional help. In severe cases such as generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), sufferers experience long-term anxiety that causes them to feel worried and concerned about a wide range of issues. People with GAD can feel anxious most days, and can struggle to remember when they did feel relaxed. If this sounds familiar to your daily life then check in with your doctor. Where appropriate, they can ensure you get targeted support, and work with you to find a solution.

However, if you are experiencing milder worries and anxieties, there are some broad steps that you can take that may help to ease your worries. Remember: we are all different, and this advice will not necessarily work for everyone. These are simply techniques that have worked for me. I want to share them in case they are useful for you.

Anything is Possible with Gareth Southgate

·  Talk things through. Opening up to someone you trust can give you some perspective. By putting your worries into words, chances are it won’t seem so bad. Talking also helps you to feel that you’re not alone in dealing with the situation.

·  Recognise the triggers. Learning to identify that moment when your adrenalin levels rise means you can take yourself out of the situation for a while when or even before it happens. Rather than brooding alone with a worry on your mind, go for a walk and get some fresh air. It will help to burn off the adrenalin, and the change of scenery will give your mind some time out.

·  Make a list. Writing down your worries can work wonders. Add a list of actions you can take to remove those worries from your mind.

·  Get stuck in. It’s natural to feel nervous before attempting something new. With no previous experience, everything is unfamiliar and it’s hard to know how you’ll feel or how well you’ll perform. I’m not a natural public speaker. The first time I had to stand up and talk in front of an audience, I was worried. The next time wasn’t quite so challenging – and the more I did it, the easier it became.

·  Own your worries. Nerves are natural, and keep us on our toes. At the same time, you’ll quickly put that feeling behind you by stepping out of your comfort zone and making that new place a familiar territory.

·  Create winning habits. The more you deal with a worry successfully, the easier it is to manage worries in the future. By dealing with anxieties when they happen – whether you’re talking things through with others or creating an action plan and putting it into practice – you’ll find they no longer rule your life. A constructive approach like this will help you to feel calmer and more organised, two winning features when it comes to pursuing personal goals.

Anything is Possible with Gareth Southgate
Book pages Placeholder Book

Anything is Possible: Be Brave, Be Kind and Follow Your Dreams

Find out more about this brilliant book and how it could help you feel that Anything is Possible.  

We've already had some 5 star reviews from our readers:

"This book is full of practical suggestions that children can easily access. The football theme is a great way for boys to interact with confidence and self esteem strategies."

"Well, this really wasn’t what I was expecting - in fact I didn’t know what to expect when I won this book. I have been blown away by the practical suggestions and easily accessible layout of this book."


1st December 2020

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