You would have thought that professional snooker players would rank highly amongst people who if not paid to do their job, would do it for the love of it. Although I find it mindnumbing to watch and impossible to play, I understand why others find the sport so addictive, as they chase the nirvana of that perfect 147 break. So it was a surprise to discover in Jim White’s excellent article in today’s Daily Telegraph about Ronnie Sullivan’s retirement, that he secretly detests the game and the relentless pressure to perform. Of course, Ronnie is not alone in hating the sport that he has been so blessed to play.
Victoria Pendleton, similarly sees her awesome talent as a curse, ‘I turn left for a living’ she commented drolely after her 2012 Olympic cycling victory and incredible nine world records. The only thing that drove her on was that she hated the idea of giving up even more; could not bear the thought of letting her Dad and herself down.
It’s not uncommon for professional footballers to loathe the sport that makes them rich. Their idea of fun is often to head for the nearest male grooming salon, bookmakers or golf course. Although highly successful as a football commentator, even the saintly Gary Lineker looks bored senseless when presenting Match of the Day. You get the feeling he would love to do something completely different, but has become addicted to the money and lifestyle.
Ultimately, it’s not enough to be good at something to be happy in your work, even if you have a special talent. You also have to enjoy it to be there for the long haul. Find something you enjoy doing and get someone to pay you to do it – that’s the secret of happiness. And if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, find something different. In this respect, Ronnie and Victoria are both inspirational role models. I wish them success in their quest for fulfilment, away from the sports that have made them famous.