Football on pitch

Football might be the most popular sport in Scotland, but I’m afraid I’m not a great fan of the ‘beautiful game’. However, my son is and so I am somewhat forced to appreciate the rigors of training.

It was when looking into this I came across Loughborough University’s “5Cs” approach.  This is essentially a framework developed to help athletes, coaches, parents, and practitioners to thrive in sport and the challenges that sport offers. The 5Cs are represented by the skills and qualities of: Commitment, Communication, Concentration, Control, and Confidence.

They are of course very transferrable, so I shall shamelessly and seamlessly go from sport to agriculture…

Commitment represents the motivation that drives someone to want to farm. Effort, engagement, self-challenge and persistence are the core attributes of a committed farmer. To be motivated, they need to have a sense of autonomy throughout their farming life.

Communication includes the verbal and non-verbal interactions between farmers and others, for example, the community, agencies, the press or government. Loughborough also encourage the use of the 5Cs to create HELPAs: those who Help, Encourage, Listen, Praise and Acknowledge others. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had more of those!

At first, I thought that Competence might be better here, but I changed my mind. If we define concentration as the ability to keep attention on an object, thought, or action for a defined period of time, and the quality of concentration coming from:
•    Attentional Focus: where the focus of attention is placed. And:
•    Attention Span: the ability to remain focused and/or hold attention for a required length of time without being distracted
then this is really important. The ability to modify our approach and ensure we are doing our work safely requires concentration even more than competence. We can be good at what we do, but if we aren’t paying attention and either have an accident or drift away from the good practice it could all be for nought.

Control is closely linked to concentration as they both regulate our focus of attention, thoughts and emotions. We can experience positive emotions when we start to make progress, but if hit a setback we might very rapidly find ourselves down in the dumps. Control is as much about making sure we don’t get ahead of ourselves, accepting and managing our negative emotions, and not giving up!  ‘Negative’ scenarios can lead to positive behaviour… it’s our choice.

Confidence comes as the last ‘C’ in the guide because it is influenced and developed by the other four ‘C’s. Confidence comes from a belief that our skills are at a desired level or from achieving specific outcomes. It’s a skill that we can develop, built on the effort, skills, accomplishments and support that we receive and give. This skill allows us to approach challenges, take opportunities and make decisions that the less confident see as threats. For new entrants, there are four main sources of confidence: recent past accomplishments, vicarious experience, praise from the boss and emotional control. The latter in particular can often take some time to develop!

Okay, in farming there isn’t a coach to take us through each of these, but no matter which sector we are in, if we audit ourselves against the 5 Cs, very quickly we can pick up where there might be a problem and where efforts might be best directed for positive change.

See also Farmstrong Scotland and RSABI