This book is divided into three sections: Be Brave, Be Kind and Follow Your Dreams.
The biggest takeaway from this book for me was that you can be both a leader and a good person. Gareth is clearly so values-driven and prides himself on his respect for his team members – you don’t have to be a football fan to see the bigger picture of all the examples he uses. This book is geared more towards young people and parents/teachers, but I would recommend it to anyone. No matter where you are in life, it is always good to be reminded of the qualities to possess to be both an effective and kind person in the workplace.
Anything Is Possible is a space where it is ok to feel whatever fear or excitement you may be experiencing about who you now, who you want to be and how you’ll get there. I read this book when I was doing something new and was at an uncomfortable/out of my depth stage with it. Southgate gave me the self-assurance I needed. I read this book when my life felt slightly stagnant in other areas. Southgate got me thinking about my skills and personality traits that weren’t being exercised. I read this book when I doubted my uniqueness. Southgate reminded me that no one will be friend, niece, colleague, granddaughter or person that I am.
I can pinpoint occasions when discussions of ambition left me feeling like I was unproductive or unsuccessful. I couldn’t help but compare myself to others’ achievements. Gareth made these concerns explicit and brought to light the reality of big dreams – they are very windy roads that require persistent mental strength to get to. He was very honest about his own struggles and the reality of setbacks; he explained how it was a choice to either focus on him being England’s Football Manager or the journey it took him to get there. This whole book was a positive shift in mindset.
Gareth put great focus on your behaviour, mindset and approach to setbacks and bumps in the road. Despite the demographic predominantly being young people, the content is written from a relatively mature angle. For example, Southgate takes the view that feedback is there to be analysed and carefully considered, not to be taken personally or mindlessly. When things go wrong, we need to take responsibility and reflect to genuinely grow and act differently in future. Reading this gives you the space to consider your behaviour and how you want to be known for conducting yourself.
Gareth Southgate could have chosen to write Anything Is Possible through rose-tinted glasses. Instead, he was considerate of innate disadvantages we may have and did not assume that everyone would have the same journey to success. Sometimes books about aspiration and achievement can be idealistic or written by someone who is seemingly lucky or blatantly privileged, having not faced a lot of hurdles. Gareth recognises the areas of his life that he didn’t need to worry or think about that he knows others do. There is nothing that he glosses over or makes out to be easier than it really is. However, he still manages to instil the idea of ‘you have the ability to achieve your dreams if you really want them’ within you.
I would also like to celebrate the Be Kind section. ‘Nice is underrated’ is something Stacey Solomon has said before which I definitely agree with. I think there is a lot going for nice people: they are generally easy to get along with, they look for the good and they try to uplift rather than put others down. I thought it was unique yet crucial to have a whole third of a book about leadership and achievement to be dedicated to essentially being a good egg. This is a fantastic message to send out in mass production!
The whole book is built on a very positive foundation and focuses on what you can control. With regular anecdotes, illustrations and manageable chunks of information, it’s an easy read with an upbeat tone that leaves you feeling confident and able. Just by reading it – without even consciously trying to believe Gareth’s words of wisdom – self-doubt is washed away. Despite him not knowing of my existence, I felt that Gareth actually cared about my fulfilment and that I exercise my capabilities. Regardless of how little you think what you do affects other people, there was a real sense that you mean a lot to many and, at the end of the day, you matter. Probably a lot more than you realise or might admit to.
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