The All Blacks have long had a saying: ‘leave the jersey in a better place’. Their task is to represent all those who have come before them. An All Black is, by definition, a role model to schoolchildren and the brand embodiment of New Zealand.
Understanding this responsibility creates a compelling sense of higher purpose. It's a good lesson for us all: if we play a bigger game, we play a more effective game.
Better people with a higher sense of purpose make better All Blacks – but they also make better Doctors, Lawyers, Bankers, Teachers, Parents and Friends.
In the brilliant book "Legacy" by James Kerr, he goes deep into the heart of the world's most successful sporting team. Following their premature exit at the 2003 World Cup, the All Blacks worked to understand how the brain works under pressure. They wanted to overcome their habit of choking. They created two ‘states’ of thought;
'Red Head' an unresourceful state in which you are off task, panicked and ineffective. 'Blue Head', on the other hand, is an optimal state in which you are on task and performing to your best ability.
The All Blacks used triggers to switch from Red to Blue. Richie McCaw would stamp his feet, literally grounding himself, while Kieran Read would stare at the farthest point of the stadium, searching for the bigger picture.
Using these triggers, the players aim to achieve clarity and awareness, so they can perform under pressure.
In Maori, whanau means 'extended family'. It's symbolised by the spearhead.
Though a spearhead has three tips, to be effective all of its force must move in one direction.
The All Blacks select players on Emotional Intelligence and Values as well as Talent, which means some of New Zealand's most promising players never pull on the black jersey, their lack of value alignment and potential inclusion would be detrimental to the whanau.
The All Blacks work to a common goal - Be the best version of yourself.
It’s a lesson for us all, whatever your chosen profession; ‘Always leave the jersey/the team/the company/the client/the job... in a better place’
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