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On Form
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What is being on form? How does it relate to feeling 'in the zone'? Are these states in the lap of the gods, a matter of which side of the bed we got out of that morning? Or can we do something to make its arrival more likely? Mike Brearley describes some of the elements of being on form in many fields, not only in cricket and psychoanalysis, but also in drama, music, teaching and business. It includes a range of states of mind, conjoined with action, from the courage to face dangerous or difficult challenges to an almost spiritual state for which words like 'inspired' or 'spiritual' come to mind. Achieving it requires us to be able to hold different tendencies, different tensions in mind, to tolerate ambivalence and ambiguity. For example, there is the need for hard work, but hard work can be misguided or limiting; there is a need to let go of conscious control, and to allow things to come up involuntarily. It involves giving house-room to different aspects of the mind, finding a balance between doing and watching oneself, as indeed between work and play. He suggests that though one can't guarantee form, or creativity, in any area, we do have some understanding of how we might make it more likely. We have to give space to ourselves and our projects. We have to learn to tolerate emotions and work on them so that they don't inhibit our freedom to think and act. There is no easy recipe; but this book will help people in all walks of life to reflect on the kinds of conditions that can block us or free us.
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About the Author

Mike Brearley is a retired English first-class cricketer who captained Cambridge University, Middlesex, and England. He was awarded the OBE in 1978, and his extraordinary galvanising of Ian Botham in the 1981 Ashes series is regarded as one of the greatest feats of sporting psychology of all time. Since his retirement from professional cricket he has pursued a full-time career as a psychoanalyst, serving as President of the British Psychoanalytical Society 2008-10. He was the President of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 2007-08. He is also a motivational speaker, and has written on cricket and the psychology of sport for the Observer, and most recently The Times. He is the author of The Art of Captaincy, which is widely considered to be the definitive book on the subject. A 30th Anniversary edition of The Art of Captaincy was published by Macmillan in 2015.

Reviews

Epic journey of a book -- Dominic Lawson * Sunday Times * This is a book that offers insight not just into cricket, but into every walk of life; not just into the state of being on form itself, but into everything that surrounds it; and not just into the reader, but into the author himself * All Out Cricket * Interesting * New Statesman * Fascinating * Choice * Accessible -- William Joll * The Oldie * Endlessly curious and unapologetically intellectual * The Times * Engaging -- Martin Chilton * Daily Telegraph * Fascinating -- Ivo Tennant * The Cricketer *

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