Tattoos, SA cricket and the ‘C’ word

While doing some last minute shopping before departing for Richmond, I bumped into a young salesman of good physique who had five stars of varying sizes and colours tattooed on the inner bicep of his right arm. Not all the stars were visible; some were covered by the sleeve of his white tee-shirt. Only two and a half stars peered out into the public domain. And even then one had to be vigilant to notice these since they were hidden and couldn’t be seen if he naturally let his arm rest to his side. I got a glimpse of one of his stars as he raised his arm to wrap some of the goods that I had purchased. Being curious, I made a comment about the beauty of the star that I had been lucky to see. He lifted his arm and pulled up his sleeve to reveal the full splendour of the five stars.

I asked him about the story behind the tattoo and he told me that they represented the 5 biggest mistakes he had made in his life. He felt that he needed to be reminded of these experiences so that he could make better choices in his life as he moved into the future. His stars were beautiful and I remember feeling empathetic and amazed about how this young man had related to these five mistakes. I couldn’t stop thinking how this reminder (tattoo) was also the essence of the learning that had occurred for him. As we spoke, it was clear that he was proud that he had made the decision to remind himself

Richmond is considered to be the tattoo capital of the USA. The age old stigma that you are either mad or bad if you have a ‘tat’ holds no water in Richmond. Tattoos are considered works of art. Besides the aesthetic, there is always a personal meaning and story behind the design of a tattoo.

It felt weird as I entered the tattoo parlour in Richmond. This was the first time that I had dared enter such a place. On some level it felt taboo to be there. There was a part of me that felt uneasy and a part that was intrigued. I was there offering emotional support to one of my family who had decided to get a tat. It had been well thought out and thoroughly discussed in our family circle. This was not an impulsive decision. In some way, the tat was a family decision. Each one had participated in the process, from the initial idea some 8 months ago to this final moment when we all stood in the shop waiting for the idea to get ‘engraved’ into the skin to embed the reality.

As I stepped into the shop, there was a large painting that filled the wall and welcomed every visitor.

Entering the tatoo parlour
Entering the tattoo parlour

One of the fundamental energies that accompanies the self-fulfilling prophecy is fear: fear of failure, fear of mistakes, fear of losing. At every major international tournament the South African cricket team has to encounter and face this fear. In order to deal with this fear, which reveals itself through choking a new psychologist has been employed by the coach. Choking is a word that does not sit comfortably with the team and various measures have been employed to resolve this issue, but with very little effect.

As previously mentioned, the self-fulfilling prophecy has a power that sits deep in the unconscious. In order to transform, the unconscious mind needs to integrate the acceptable with the ‘shadow’ (unacceptable). Given this, a strictly motivational approach that only emphasises the positive (and the desperate need to win) may inadvertently backfire since it could increase the internal tension of the team. This may either make the team more jittery (causing them to make unforced errors at critical times) or the team may expend too much mental and emotional energy in the build-up (causing them to be lethargic and unable to sustain the necessary level of intensity for the duration of the match).

In the first match of the ICC T20 tournament in the West Indies, the team lost to India. To me, the team looked tired at critical times and was unable to sustain its intensity for the full duration of the match.

The opposite of fear is LOVE. If the team wants to transform itself it needs to access the love domain as it enters the battle of competition. What this means and how this gets realised on the field of play needs to be carefully examined and explored by the team. There is usually a lot of misconception when it comes to the mysterious energy of love that operates in sport.

But maybe the team would benefit from just looking deeply into that large image that I first encountered as I stepped into that tattoo parlour.


3 thoughts on “Tattoos, SA cricket and the ‘C’ word

  1. I love star tattoo. I have a star tattoos on my back, ankle, shoulder and between my chest. Your post is right their are so many trendy star tattoos out their, just use our imagination to mixed up and make a beautiful outcome.

  2. Iano

    Hi Ken

    I’m really sorry to see that you were right! The self-fulfilling prophecy got fulfilled, yet again. I think they need your direct help to break it.

    I was reading your previous blog on the self-fulfilling prophecy and was remined how I first cameto be aware of them.

    A few years ago, I was dating a girl who loved to read the Horoscopes in the You magazine. I was amazed at how she ‘really’ believed them. Well, on weekend we are down in Knysna to run the Half Marathon and she read the horoscope that hinted that I’d be settiling down with another woman. At the time, I remember thinking that that was a bit strange because it would mean that we’d have to break up and I certainly wasn’t thinking about doing that. I remember thinking how pointless Horoscope reading was, because you were reading a ‘so-called’ guaranteed future outcome and were then almost willing it to happen – a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts (I guess a bit like goal-setting and visualisation). The problem being that the goal wasn’t set by yourself.

    Anyhow, a little over a week later, we got into an argument and broke up. That eventually paved the way for me to meet the woman that became my wife, so I guess my ex got her ‘self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Ken, I love your posts – keep them coming.


  3. Iano

    Hi Ken

    With the Cricket World Cup coming up this month, I would be interested to hear you opinions on whenther the South African cricket team would be able to overcome their self-fulfulling prophecy and go on to win the event.

    Time will tell, but have you noticed anything positive that has changed?

    Thanks for you insightful posts.


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