Like many of you, I watched the World Cup Quarter Final football match on Saturday evening, which saw England knocked out of the tournament by current-holders France.  Inevitably with such events, especially in an age of social media, the inquests began even before the referee blew his whistle for full time.  Punditry, both paid and amateur, focussed primarily on the two components of management: squad and team selection and in-game tactics and changes.  In amongst the hyperbole and the vitriol of Twitter, I read the quotation I’ve used as a title for this blog with reference to whether a particularly gifted yet injury-prone player should have been selected for the England squad.

“Availability is the best ability” is a wonderfully profound sentiment, attributed to American Footballer Brian Dawkins – although others are also cited with the phrase’s invention.  An alternative, and perhaps more colloquially charming iteration used by many US sports coaches is that “you can’t make the club in the tub”!

The message is an obvious one:  whatever talents and abilities we have, if we are not present and prepared to deploy them then we are not of any value to the collective endeavour at hand.  It is with good reason that the first imperative in “turn up, work hard and be nice” is “turn up”.

It is at times of reflection, or adversity, that we are most aware of the contributions people around us make – or don’t.  We will all have had times when we felt incredibly grateful to those who “step up” and equally downcast when we witness those who “step back”. 

As this term nears its close, I want to thank all those with whom I work who make themselves available – without seeking praise or favour, but merely through a generosity of spirit and the hope that they can make a positive contribution and a difference.  We see this every day and have started highlighting a few of these instances via a regular tweet each Monday and recognising more publicly such efforts through our staff magazine, “JTMATters”.

I’ll close this blog, and this year’s blogs, with an extract from a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox which I have cited before but which resonates always:

There are two kinds of people on earth today,
Two kinds of people no more I say.
Not the good or the bad, for it’s well understood,
The good are half bad, the bad are half good.

Not the happy or sad, for in the swift-flying years,
Bring each man his laughter, each man his tears.
Not the rich or the poor, for to count a man’s wealth,
You must know the state of his conscience and health.

Not the humble and proud, for in life’s busy span,
Who puts on vain airs is not counted a man.
No! the two kinds of people on earth I mean,
Are the people who lift, the people who lean.

As always, thanks for reading – and for lifting!