South Africa came close to making it to the finals of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. While the Boks were knocked out by the All Blacks by a narrow margin, there are lessons to be learned from the game relevant to business, including the business of media.
Face every challenge with preparation
It’s estimated the average rugby player runs about seven or eight kilometres during an 80-minute match. No matter how quickly your team dips or how well they throw, if they’re unfit, it’s worth nothing. It’s the same in business. Prepare for your day, prepare for meetings, and plan how you’ll split the day to get everything done.
Think ahead. People underestimate the importance of mental preparation too. Identify objectives for every task, then analyse whether you’ve completed them or not. Be conscious of what’s ahead.
There’s no padding in life
The bigger you are, the harder the knocks. Rugby, in many ways, is a wild and crazy game, with tackles unlike any other sport. An average scrum packs a whopping 7000 Newtons of force – and when the team’s done at the scrum, the knocks don’t stop.
Rugby players don’t wear shin pads, and only a few wear scrum caps. But they’re always ready for the blows the game delivers. In business, you can have a day full of small victories, but they’ll be followed up, at some point, with a series of blows. Learn how to take them, pick yourself up, identify key learnings and then quickly recover.
Teamwork builds motivation
A world-class rugby team in operation is nothing if not a perfectly executed group performance. Rugby players can’t perform in isolation – both in prep and in play. They rely on their team for support, and to identify new opportunities and gaps in the defence. Business is no different. Never underestimate the value of a cohesive team – it’s a force to be reckoned with.
Don’t look busy for the sake of it
You can be on the field. You can even be wearing the kit. But that doesn’t make you a player. Dashing around a field pretending to do things will only tire you out – and you’ll just get in the way of your team.
If you’re going to show up, be present. So often we fool ourselves into thinking that checking emails and delicately creating a Feng Shui desk is work. It’s not. If you truly take advantage of the hours you spend at the office and work constructively from the time you arrive to the time you leave, you’ll be out the door on time. Don’t pretend to be busy.
Play to your strengths
A rugby team consists of 15 players, with another seven on the bench. Each and every player knows exactly what he’ll do the moment he gets onto the field. He’s fully aware of his strengths and weaknesses. A powerful workforce is one when each and every staff member is cognisant of his or her role in the business, and plays to those strengths.
A team of individually powerful players – whether in business or sport – combined to support each other with their respective strengths, can be unbeatable.
Mark Taylor is CEO of Nashua.
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