Ask Yourself the Right Question

InTouch - Newsletter - #82

Welcome to the eighty-second edition of “In-Touch”. As always, I would love to continue the conversation so please hit reply and let me know what you think.

Story of the Week: "Ask Yourself the Right Question"

There are many statistics to illustrate Arsène Wenger’s managerial and tactical brilliance but it was his calm wisdom that made him special to the club’s legendary French striker, Thierry Henry.

Henry recalled one occasion when, at half time, he stormed into the dressing room, shouting, “I’m not getting the right passes. I’m not getting the ball where I want it! I’m going to tell the boss I’ve had enough.”

Wenger’s calm response to his angry striker was this: “Don’t ask yourself the wrong question.” Henry was confused. What was that supposed to mean?

Wenger continued: “The real question that you should be asking is, ‘Can Freddie [Ljungberg] see you?'”

Henry thought about this and admitted, “No, it’s true, he can’t see me. Freddie usually has his head down when he’s on the pitch while with Dennis [Bergkamp], you move however you want and Robert [Pires] likes you to come short to do a one-two.”

The Manager then said, “So, start to think about how you should move with the players.”

Of course, Henry didn’t just think about it. He took action and began to move and make runs according to who had the ball, instead of making the same run with every player. “I started to adjust my game to them,” he would explain later. “This is where Arsene was brilliant. Instead of me coming into the dressing room feeling upset and losing my mind for no reason, he made us realise this type of stuff and he made me way smarter.”

In the 2003-2004 season, during which Arsenal did not lose a single Premier League match, Thierry Henry scored 39 goals in 51 games in all competitions, becoming the club’s top scorer. That squad is still – justifiably – referred to as ‘The Invincibles'.

Arsène Wenger’s advice is not only relevant to sporting greatness but to greatness in business too. There is no single way of leading teams of individuals; each member ‘ticks’ in their own unique way. Realising this and adapting your ‘runs’ according to ‘who has the ball’ is key to becoming a great leader and colleague. Perhaps even more importantly, it is an essential aspect of becoming an admirable and considerate family member.

When a problem arises, stop for a moment and consider this: “Am I asking myself the right question?”

Words of Wisdom

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution because there is no one-size-fits-all problem.”

Mark Miller

“One size fits one.”

Will Guidara

A Question to Ponder, dear friend.

“Can you remember an occasion when you realised that you’d been asking yourself the wrong question? What happened?”

Hit reply and let me know.