Do you watch Dragons Den?
You’ll be familiar with James Caan then. He’s the man who, for me, is responsible for the greatest change when it comes to choosing how I live my life.
“When everyone is turning right then you should turn left”.
It’s a philosophy I’ve tried to follow as best I can. This is especially true of when I decided to retire from playing professional football when I was still only 32.
I say ‘only’ 32 because there’s no doubt in my mind that, after being a member of the Norwich City squad that won the League One title under Paul Lambert in 2010, I could have found myself another club and continued my playing career.
It would have been the easy thing to do. A two, maybe even a three year contract somewhere else with a signing on fee, a good salary and the lifestyle that went with it.
A prospect that should have ticked all of my boxes…and it very nearly did.
But, in the end, it wasn’t something I wanted to do. Or, to put it another way, it wasn’t something that I needed to do anymore.
I wanted to move on. So I walked away from the game and all the security it had given me since I was sixteen years old.
Which meant, of course, a sudden drop in income to zero. Yep, £0 a week because on the day that I decided to, and excuse the cliché, ‘hang up my boots’ for the last time, I didn’t have another job to go to and I had little idea about exactly what I was going to be doing anyway.
I knew, at that point, that I’d be very interested in doing some media work. I’d worked with Chris Goreham and Rob Butler on BBC Radio Norfolk before and, over time, gradually began to know my way around a radio studio.
I also did some punditry work for Sky Sports, BT Sport, BeInSports and talkSPORT.
And I enjoyed it. You’re getting paid to watch the game you love as well as getting to hang out with some of the biggest names in sport in the process.
However, I was never going to be another Alan Shearer or Ian Wright and end up making a long term and full time living out of punditry.
I wanted more.
Last year, when I finished studying my M.Sc. in Sports Psychology things needed to change.
I was studying for four days a week. The one day I had off I used to keep my football eye in by working with the young players at Crystal Palace.
Something had to give. So I decided to walk away from the work portfolio I’d built up in the media.
Which meant walking into BT Sports HQ to advise the bosses there that I didn’t want to work for them anymore.
Plus doing the same at every other media organisation that had happily utilised my services in the past.
It took a lot of personal courage to do that. A great example of James Caan’s quote in action. I really was turning left when everyone else was heading right.
But was I making the right decision?
Deep down, I knew that I was because I wanted to give my all to the Keynote Speaking that now takes up my professional time.
It had to work. I was, for the second time in my life, walking away from guaranteed employment and the income and security that it gave me.
The ultimate leap of faith infact.
I know I’m in a fortunate position. Not everyone can introduce such seismic changes into their lives, even if they want to. And I appreciate that it isn’t for everyone.
But it was something that, for me, was exactlythe right thing to do at the time. And I’ve done it twice now.
And, all things considered this time around, it’s a choice I’ve made that’s worked out well.