Chris Croft's Personal Blog

August 18, 2016

“Sports” that shouldn’t really be in the Olympics

Filed under: Lists, Sport, Uncategorized — Tags: — chriscroft @ 10:07 am

This is just my opinion.  total respect to anyone who is world class at anything.  But I would ditch these….


  • BMX, it’s for children
  • Golf, because it’s boring
  • Sailing because you can’t see what they’re doing – they just bob around on the waves in the distance for a bit and then come back with a medal
  • Some of the swimming because there are so many distances and styles that there are too many medals given out
  • Football and tennis because they have their own competitions
  • I would keep dressage, even though it is basically showing off on a horse and isn’t really a sport, because it is at least clever
  • I would keep the cat and mouse cycle sprint because it’s hilarious, and actually very skilful, similarly the Kierin with the ridiculous electric bike
  • I wouldn’t allow the female gymnasts to be so young, I just think it’s probably bad for them as kids to do so much excessive exercise under such mental pressure
  • The synchronised diving was amazing but the problem is everybody was completely brilliant so the being judged on tiny details – so it needs to be made harder so we can distinguish the winner more easily

Apart from that, rock on!


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August 13, 2012

The Olympics – POD or POA?

Were you inspired by the Olympics?

They certainly were brilliant – the organisation, the crowds, the stunning opening ceremony, and of course the performance of the athletes – what amazing people they are, yet also strangely ordinary people – just people like us, who are somehow doing amazing things.

So many thoughts swirling in my mind about it…
Do I want to be like those athletes? If not a track cyclist, then at least a gold-medal-standard trainer! Do I want to be the best in the world? Do I need to be? Do I have the talent, the ability? Or the motivation? Would it make me happy?

I think the question is: What should a normal person do having seen the Olympics and been inspired by them?

Let’s take it apart a little:

Reasons for Post-Olympic-Depression

• It’s been really easy and fun just putting the TV on and wallowing in the spectacle
• Our normal lives and all their problems have been suspended for two weeks
• Now it’s back to reality
• We hope that the Olympics and their after-effects will somehow improve the country and our lives, but of course they won’t. Reality is still there.
• “I’ll never have a body like Tom Daley or Chris Hoy or Usain Bolt, and I’ll never get a medal in anything or be cheered on by an 80,000 crowd. I’m a failure compared to them”.

Reasons for Post-Olympic-Achievement

• “I can see that ordinary people can achieve their dreams if they are prepared to do the work”
• All it needs is a small step to get onto the Spiral of Achievement: motivation leads to effort which leads to results which leads to more motivation which leads to more effort which leads to more results which…… and the Olympic Effect just might be enough to get people to take this first step.

Are the Olympians ordinary, just like you and me, or not?

Well, with the possible exception of the godlike Usain Bolt, my belief is that they are ordinary people who had the luck to get onto the Spiral of Achievement, and then, perhaps with the help of others or through their own strength of will, had the strength to persist and keep doing the work to get there. And to reach the very top that work is very considerable. Did you see the video of Chris Hoy training, to the point where he collapsed off his bike and lay on the ground in lactic acid agony, groaning in the foetal position, while they just put a blanket over him and left him to recover. THAT’s doing the work! If you tell any successful person they are lucky they have every right to be annoyed – they have done the work!

It’s possible that to be the best in the whole world you need great talent as well as doing the work, but seeing interviews with the boxer from Hull, the canoe medallist, the Taekwondo and judo winners, and the rowers, I got the distinct feeling that they were ordinary people who had just really really focussed and then done the work. And certainly, if you wanted to be very good at something, as opposed to the best in the world, then it’s really not about talent, it’s about work. Anyone, including you (yes you reading this) really can do anything you want if you’re prepared to do the work.

I used to think that the challenge was to find the thing that you have a talent for. But maybe the
challenge isn’t to find the thing that you’ve got a talent for, but to find the thing that you enjoy enough to then be motivated to do the work required. If you have a talent but you don’t enjoy it then you’ll never do the work and so you won’t succeed.

So maybe the legacy of the Olympics will be that lots of people will take that first step onto the Achievement Spiral and find that they can get results. All that undiscovered talent! Maybe there is a future Usain Bolt living in Hull! However I suspect that

1 -the greatest evil of all, laziness, will again triumph and most people will plan to do something and then not bother, (like all those people who join the gymn in January and then stop going by February) and also that

2 – most people won’t make the leap from Sport to Everything Else. Why not decide to be really good at computers or music or languages or selling or…..? They are all the same, they just require you to do the work. But will people realise this?

I do hope that all over the UK people decide to be better at all sorts of things, and they get onto the Achievement Spiral as a result of the Olympics.

But then I think about Victoria Pendleton (or Queen Victoria as some commentators amusingly called her) – who is retiring from cycling, saying that she doesn’t enjoy it any more. She’s the best in the world, how can she not?? And I think the answer is that she is paying such a massive price to be the best in the world that it outweighs the happiness. Quite right Victoria, you’ve achieved enough, and you deserve to have some fun! We all remember Steve Redgrave saying after Sydney “If anyone sees me getting into a boat again would they please shoot me” and then within 2 weeks he declared himself in for Athens. It’s great to see him enjoying himself now, he’s more than earned it!

So, bearing in mind that you can achieve anything if you do the work, but you want to avoid the Pendleton Factor, here is my overall conclusion from the Olympics:

1. Set yourself at least one goal, based on something you enjoy doing – don’t worry about talent. It doesn’t have to be in sport, it can be anything you like.

2. Make your goal large enough to be exciting, but not so large that in order to achieve it you’ll have to give up the rest of the things that make you happy. So Olympic gold is probably out! (e.g. to be able to run 5k in 45 minutes, or to play in a band in your local pub, or to speak good enough Italian to joke with locals, or to be good enough at tennis to hit the ball hard and it still goes in).

3. Focus reasonably strongly on achieving your goals – this means giving up some things and fighting against the demon laziness. Focus strongly but not obsessively. Obsessive focus will reduce your overall happiness.

Onwards and Upwards like a lightning bolt (imagine me assuming the position in front of my flip chart)


May 6, 2012

Walking or running to iPhone music

Filed under: Computer tips, Gadgets, Sport — chriscroft @ 12:34 pm

I finally got something I’ve wanted for years – music at the right speed on my iPhone.

1 – Download Mixmeister (free) onto your PC and use it to scan all your music and put a BPM number onto every track on iTunes. Very simple little bit of software, obvious how it works.
Until now I’ve been using this to make playlists on my ipod, so for example I have a walking playlist of music that is from 115 to 125 BPM.
For running it’s about 90bpm, so you’d want a playlist of maybe 85-95bpm songs since you won’t have enough songs that are at exactly 90, or whatever your exact ideal cadence is.
If you were keen you could sort them into order with maybe a gradually increasing cadence, or a rush at the end.
But a much better solution is……
2 – Buy Cadence Run DJ for £1.50 and tell it to use all your music. Worked immediately.

So now I can slide a slider in the Cadence app to any speed I want and it will select music from my collection that is at that speed. If I want to speed up or slow down slightly I just slide the slider. Brilliant!

February 23, 2011

People who say “I don’t get Twitter” might be wrong!

I think I’m starting to get the point of Twitter.
My thoughts are as follows: these are the reasons why you might want to get a (free) Twitter account:

1 – You can follow your idols and get a window into their world
2 – You can see which topics are “trending” and see what people are saying about these popular subjects
3 – You can send a message to anyone, so if you can’t get the email address for Eric Clapton or Armando Ianucci you can probably send them a message via Twitter
4 – You can subscribe to sites listing local jobs
5 – You can subscribe to sites which send jokes, for example Viz Top Tips is hilarious
6 – Follow the chain: You can see who is following someone who you like, and see who the people you like are following, thus discovering whole new worlds of discussion
7 – You can find out what’s going on locally to you, and also find out what’s going on internationally, e.g. Libya. Someone told me that he was stuck in a non-moving queue at Heathrow so he searched twitter and found out that the problem was – someone with a mobile was tweeting from the front of the queue! Or if you are in Northampton for the evening, you can search and see who is saying what about what’s going on there.
8 – It’s fun to watch a rugby match or The Apprentice with your twitter feed on, so you can see what everyone is tweeting, like having loads of people in the room with you making witty comments
9 – You can search for conversations on anything, so if you are really into bee-keeping or base-jumping you can just search and see who is saying what about those
10 – Serendipity – sometimes you tweet, or receive a tweet, about something at just the right time – might be a book you are reading, a band playing locally, a job required, etc.

Overall I think it’s interesting, and probably goes much deeper and better than I have so far discovered…. Let me know people, what did I miss?


PS – follow me on Twitter! Management tips at @chriscroft, the real me at @chriscroft2010

June 22, 2010

Thanking god for my goal

Filed under: Sport — chriscroft @ 7:17 pm

You see this a lot in the world cup. Pointing up at the sky, crossing themselves etc.

I seems to me that if it really was god who helped them score, then does that mean that god is taking sides? I wonder which team HE supports (if it’s England then He’s not doing a very good job!). Something tells me that god has bigger fish to fry than supporting one football team against another.

And what should He do if the penalty taker AND the goalie are appealing to him simultaneiously?

Kaka, a famous god-thanker, was sent off in Brazil’s last game; where was god in that match?

No, I think we should face the fact that, whether or not God is up there, and whether or not He is a football fan, it’s skill, hard work and teamwork that count. So that’s maybe just one out of three for England then!

PS Just saw Jokovic doing it at Wimbledon – aargh!

Watch just the second half

Filed under: Sport, Time Management — chriscroft @ 7:07 pm

90 minutes is quite a big commitment of time if you’re watching more than just the England matches, so I’m thinking that coming in at half time might be the answer:

if it’s nil all then great, you’ve missed nothing
if your team is a goal down then you can watch the chase
if youre team is a goal up then you want watch either the sweaty hanging on, or see them pile in a few more

either way you get 3/4 the fun for 1/2 the time – bargain!

May 3, 2010

Vote for me!

Filed under: Careers, Lists, News and Politics, Sport — chriscroft @ 10:01 am

Actually I’d hate to be an MP.  These days the media attention is so close, and so negative, that it would only take the 5 minutes to find something wrong with me.  Anyone with character gets weeded out by the system.

Having laughed at the Americans with George W when we had Blair, they now have Obama and we’re stuck with the Twins.  So depressing!  Our parties are too similar, having converged into the middle where the votes are, and our individual MPs are not high enough calibre (with a few exceptions) – and this isn’t surprising, since the pay isn’t enough for such a difficult job.  It’s unpopular to say, but my first policy would be to double MPs pay so we get some really good people coming in.  How else can we get Richard Branson etc to run our country?

My 17 policies:

  1. Double MPs pay, as explained above.  And get rid of the senile freeloaders as the new pay brings in better people.
  2. Ban Christmas carols and decorations in shops until December.  No cheesy music allowed in November.
  3. Clearly label low fat and low sugar food so that I don’t accidentally get the crap marmalade or the tasteless pate.  In fact this is a partly serious point as the labelling of food with health traffic lights never got through, and it should have.
  4. Ban speed cameras and speed traps, since all they do is make law abiding people hate the police.  Instead, still have traps and unmarked cars etc but fine people for dangerous driving instead of speeding.  You can be dangerous below the speed limit (too close, not indicating) and safe above it (sunny day, empty road).  Let the police have discretion, and of course they have video evidence if it goes to court.
  5. Get rid of copper coins – they are just annoying, and you can’t even get rid of them into parking meters.
  6. Stop the war on local government and the insidious agenda of replacing council people (who care) with outside contractors who cost more and mostly don’t care.  Instead of giving up and replacing swathes of local government with private companies, manage them properly by, for example, measuring performance and only targeting the underperforming areas (instead of having complete reorganisations all the time) and by having stronger HR Departments who will actually DO something about the outrageous levels of sickness in the councils and NHS.  Of course some sickness is genuine, but when you’re averaging 14 days per person per year (self employed is about 1) them strong management is needed.
  7. Make football goals wider so we don’t get nil-all draws any more.
  8. Combine England with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the Word Cup, so that we could win it easily, with Giggs on the left wing (yes, he’s not too old) and then Wayne Bridge can have his sulk and we wouldn’t care. Plus it might make the Scottish bond a bit with their English friends down south – come on you guys, you aren’t going to win it on your own, and stop supporting Argentina when they play us!  We support you against them!
  9. To get the dole you have to work for just 5 hours a week on volunteer / community projects, helping out the Council, cleaning up litter and graffiti etc – so people could learn a work ethic, and to care about their environment, as well as getting all these jobs done and making our country nicer.  Admin would be easy – supervisor signs off the fact that you’ve done the 5 hours – or not.
  10. I’d make it illegal to put Heating ‘Engineer’ on the side of your white van if you don’t have a DEGREE in Engineering.  No wonder we’re short of Engineers (and hence industry and hence jobs and balance of trade) if people think an Engineering degree is to teach you to fix washing machines.
  11. Your status photo on Facebook would not be allowed to be yourself as a baby.  It’s not clever and it’s not funny – I want to know what you look like NOW.
  12. Encourage live music in pubs – there would be no tax on the beer if you’ve got a band playing
  13. No cones on motorways if men aren’t working – so you’d have to work round the clock.  Instead of 3 roadworks jobs taking 3 months you could blitz each one in one month with three times the people.
  14. Teach time management, negotiating, financial skills and nightclub skills (how to dance and chat people up) at schools, instead of Latin etc.  I didn’t feel prepared for life when I left school.
  15. A better careers system, which really does help kids make the most important decision of their lives.  I know two marine biologists who never got a job in MB and have not been happy ever since, and loads of Economists who were wrongly advised into auditing, and why on earth did I go into running factories for a living?  Personality testing and computers could solve this if we put our minds to it.  The Bournemouth University computer that I tried a few years ago suggested that I joined the Army!
  16. Ban wasps in public places.
  17. Only joggers who are going five miles or more will be allowed to carry a bottle with a hole in the middle.

What did I miss?

March 2, 2010

Sport, Happiness, and blokes

Filed under: Happiness, Sport — chriscroft @ 10:10 am

“What is it with men and sport?” I sometimes get asked.

In fact I used to find most sport boring, and woudl love to say “The score is the same whether or not you watch” but as I get older I find it more fascinating rather than less.  Maybe because I don’t play it so much now…  Because one of the things about watching sport is that you believe that it’s you playing it.  I was quite disappointed recently when kicking a football around in a friend’s garden that I was unable to curl the ball in from the wing like Beckham – I honestly thought I could, having seen him do it so many times,

Other psychological reasons why men particularly might be attracted to sport are

a) it’s as near as we get to tribal warfare, or to hunting

b) it involves practising our hunting skills – throwing things, judging relative speeds of moving objects, fitness in pursuit and evasion, etc

c) you don’t have to talk while watching it

d) you get so involved in it (known as Flow) that you forget all your day to day hassles and stresses

e) it’s one of the few things that really is completely unpredictable: two goals in extra times, or Hamilton losing a whiloe minute on the final lap (or was that fixed??) etc

f) you get a sense of belonging as you watch your tribe win, or when you discuss afterwards with people what happened

g) just like Desperate Housewives or Grays Anatomy you get the one off episode (the match) and the evolving longer term plot (the championship, will the new players or strategy or manager succeed) so you get hooked

h) the challenge of trying to understand it – why do England lose, why didn’t Murray get the third set, should he have come to net more, etc.

But finally I would like to add one of my favourite bits from The Inner Game of Tennis (I do think that a 5 set tennis match is the best of all if you want to observe the psychology of people under pressure) which says that there are only 3 reasons to play sport, and 2 of them are crap

1 – to beat the other person. This is a road to nowhere since there will always be someone better than you, so it will only work if you pick on people worse than you and beat them, and that’s rather a hollow victory

2 – to master the game.  Forget this, you never will.  Even Federer misses some shots, espesially when having a close game.  There is always going to be an even harder shot to try to master next.  You’ll never be satisfied

3 – to just enjoy the good bits.  To savour the shots that go well, that backhand down the line into the corner, oh yes!!  And of course the same goes for every sport, and maybe every thing in life.

Onwards and upwards!

January 24, 2010

The 12 crimes of critical path diagrams

Filed under: Computer tips, Customer Care, Gadgets, Project Management, Sport — chriscroft @ 6:53 pm

This week a slightly technical Project Management tip, which will mean nothing to those who haven’t been trained*, but if you have (by me or anyone else) then I hope you keep this list and use it when next planning a project – you should find it extremely useful.

* but a quick summary: Network diagrams are like a sort of flow diagram of the tasks in a project so you can see the running order of what depends on what.  You can use a computer but post-its are best.  Normally they are drawn across the page, left to right.   The objective is to find the longest path, or ‘critical’ path, which tells you how long the project will take.

Using Post-its to make your critical path diagram

Common mistakes made by people doing network diagrams with post-its (or on a whiteboard)

1                    Vertical lines.  This is a sin because it’s not clear whether the line is going up or down.  Lines should always go diagonally across – makes the diagram much easier to understand.  Sometimes vertical lines are used to show that the tasks happen together – but in this case the two tasks should both feed from the one on their left and into the one on the right.

2                    Arrows going backwards (or forwards then backwards then forwards) – you must move the boxes so the arrows always flow to the right.  It makes it much easier to see the flow of the project.  Similarly arrows which cross over make the project much harder to “see”, though very occasionally these cannot be avoided.

3                    Dangle.  Every task should have at least one arrow coming into it and one coming out of it.  If it has no arrow coming out of it then why are you doing it?  At the very least, the arrow should go to “end”.

4                    Arrows coming out of the start of a box, or into the end of a box.  This is confusing – they should be drawn coming out of the end of one box and into the beginning of the next, from left to right.  Yes I know you might want to show lag, e.g. we want to start the next task half way through this one, but see next sin:

5                    Not granular enough.  If you want to start the next task half way through this one, then you need to break the first task into two.  Then, after the first half, you can show arrows going to the second half, and also to the next task.

6                    Redundant arrows.  This is getting tricky to describe in words alone, but I hope you’re still with me!  If you can’t pour the tea until you’ve boiled the kettle, and you can’t boil the kettle until you’ve filled it, you don’t need another arrow from fill kettle to pour tea.  Redundant arrows are often easy to spot since they form a triangle.

7                    Loops.  You can never have arrows that go backwards (ie right to left) and if you do then you run the risk of having an infinite loop.

8                    One task much too big.  If most of the tasks are a couple of weeks and there is one that is 8 months, then you probably need to granulate the big one: break it into smaller bits.

9                    Tasks of one day.  I don’t believe anything happens that quickly.  Especially not several in a row.

10                Mixed units – if you have some durations in days and some in weeks, or months, the adding up will probably go wrong.  The whole point of the network diagram is to make the project instantly visible.

11                Too series or too parallel.  After a while you just know when a critical path chart doesn’t look right.  It should be a mix of parallel and series tasks.  Too liner = too slow, too parallel = too risky and needs too many resources.

12                “Ongoing”.  All tasks must have a start and a finish.  If you can’t do this for a task and you find yourself wanting to say the forbidden O word then it needs to be broken down further.

Onwards and upwards



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