Find your flow like Ronnie the Rocket

Last month the future of account management was questioned by an IPA study.  The report, by Hall and Partners, suggests that the problem is multi-faceted.  Not enough focus for the role, not enough diversity, clients want more for less, a lack of understanding of what account managers actually do: “The study quoted one procurement lead as saying: “To be honest, no-one has ever really explained what the account management team does.””

Account management must evolve as so many roles will. Times are tough.  With any job today you need to show how you add value.  No-one can rest on their achievements.  We are all under pressure to show how we contribute today and tomorrow.

There is another important facet to anyone’s job.  This one is internal, how you feel.  For real job satisfaction: you need to be in love with what you do.

Ronnie O’Sullivan is referred to by some pundits as a snooker genius.  And for good reason.  Since turning professional in 1992, he has won six World Championships, a record seven Masters titles, and a record seven UK Championships for a record total of 20 titles in Triple Crown tournaments. One of 11 players to win a career Triple Crown, he holds the all-time record for the most ranking titles with 37 including winning the 2020 World Snooker Championship. He also holds the record of being the youngest winner of a ranking title, winning the 1993 UK Championship aged 17 years and 358 days, as well as being the youngest winner of the Masters in 1995, at 19 years and 69 days old. He won 38 consecutive matches in ranking events after turning professional, which is also a record. He has earned career prize money of over £11 million, the highest amount of any snooker player.

He is obviously good.  But he did not sail through the World Championship this year.  In fact, during the semi-final he was losing to Mark Selby until the exciting final frames.

He did rally, and win.  In the after match interview he was congratulated on reaching another final.  His reply was very interesting.  He refuted the praise from the interviewer for reaching the world championship final.  He denied that it was special.  He dismissed the achievement.  He talked instead about how he felt about how he had played.   He said: “I’ve just been trying to find something from somewhere for days, and it gets tiring… the ball is going all over the gaff.. I just tried to make the score look respectable.”  He went on: “It is all about the cue action.. it’s about the beautiful game played beautifully” not about winning, not about the stories or legends.  He said that he was only looking forward to playing again if he could find his “cue action”.   He joked about how he was going to spend the time until the final looking for this: “I might go on Amazon later and see if that Jeff Bezos bloke can deliver me one asap”.

In “cue action” O’Sullivan was referring to finding the “flow”, the joy of being so immersed in what you do that everything seems to fall into place.  It is a sporting phenomenon but also, as Connected Podcast guest Frances Ralston-Good pointed out, it applies to work.  If you want to be brilliant at your job, you have to be immersed in what you do, you have to love what you do.  As O’Sullivan went on to say, post victory at the final, you have to respect the game.

O’Sullivan’s tactic for getting back the “cue action” was to lean into the table physically.  This is great advice, if you allow yourself to be disconnected from the work then you can neither respect it, nor find your flow.

Did Ronnie get his cue action back?  He beat his opponent in the final 18 frames to 8.  So, yes, he did acquire his cue action.  And not from Amazon. He certainly leant into the table.  And there was a turning point about a third of the way through the final when Kyren Wilson had taken an easy shot rather than a shot that would be more difficult but deliver a strategic edge in the long term.  (Snooker is the perfect game for proponents of long term effectiveness).  Ronnie’s self doubt and over thinking seemed to melt away.  He found his cue action.   He won the championship.

Whatever the role in advertising, if you find your flow, if you connect with the work, then you will excel at what you do, you will add value to the business.


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