Saturday, 21 September, the Springboks played their first pool stage game of
the Rugby World Cup 2019 against New Zealand in Yokohama – and lost. Watching
them play that critical first game, it was hard not to get despondent about
their chances in the competition.
weeks to the day later, the Springboks powered home to beat England and lift
the William Webb Ellis trophy. In doing so, they made history as the first team
ever to win a Rugby World Cup after losing a pool stage game. They are also the
only team to have won every final they’ve played, without conceding a try.
Journalists called this ‘one of the most astonishing records in sport’…
that, after that first loss, I was very worried about the inevitable negativity
that was starting to make its way into conversation.
to beat prevailing stats. In the 11 tournaments that have taken place since
1987, no team had ever turned it around after losing in the first rounds and
taken the trophy. There was nothing to suggest that the Springboks would be any
giving up, the team refused to let the fact that others had written them off
Led by a true
servant leader, this diverse group of men had a strong desire to win. They
truly believed that, if they worked together, they could be victorious.
wasn’t an option. So, after that first loss, they took time to reframe the
pressure they were under to achieve – and, rather, began to focus on how
playing a good game of rugby could bring hope to South Africa
(#StrongerTogether). They found purpose - and it was bigger than the task at
so, the Springboks turned what should have been an ending into an amazing
beginning. They fought back – and won (to the delight of all South Africans).
already been written about the leadership lessons that can be learned from a
win like this. About how finding a shared purpose can unite a team (and a
nation) and how, to win, you often have to fail first.
For me, though,
what really stands out is the importance of finishing strong.
heading into the final stretch of what has (for many of us) been a really challenging
has been tough, the political landscape unnerving and the sword of downgrade remains
hanging firmly over our heads.
it’s tempting to throw in the towel and start planning for 2020, the Springboks
have made me realise that, even at this late stage, there is still time to
The race is
always won, not by those who try or mean well, but by those who finish.
that building and sustaining momentum now is the smarter way to give 2020 a
So, how do
we finish 2019 strong?
(to One Goal)…
You may have started the year with many goals. Or, you may
be one of those people who don’t believe in ‘goal-setting’. Regardless, pick
one thing to do and see it through. Decide what you need to do to achieve this
goal and give it your all.
Self-awareness can help us move from being eager starters to
consistent, strong finishers.
Being self-aware allows us to identify (and focus on) our
strengths, while acknowledging (and accepting) our weaknesses. Which is how
goals are achieved.
To reach this point, you may need to have an honest
conversation with yourself about what you have done well this year and what has
been in your blind spot.
Take Action (Daily)…
Do something each day which moves your closer to your goal. Move faster. Create urgency.
Make your action steps effort-driven (I will answer all
email requests within an hour) rather than outcome-driven (I will improve
Evaluate how you’ve approached your goals in 2019. Explore
what you’ve been doing and decide what you need to stop doing, keep doing or
start doing – and implement this immediately.
If you’re anything like me, nothing gets done without a
deadline as more important things always seem to crop up. So, if the work that
you’re doing hasn’t been set a deadline, set an artificial one for yourself.
Deadlines get you moving.
Renegotiate Your Relationship with Perfect…
If you’re a Type A personality, you’ll understand the battle
If you constantly value work that is perfectly presented
over work that is done, it might be time to move your boundaries on perfect.
Remember that the pursuit of perfection (where it takes time to tweak, change
and make things perfect) is at odds with the need to get it done and delivered.
At this point in the year, finding the delicate balance
between perfection and delivery is important.
Manage Energy – not Time…
Energy levels fluctuate throughout the day. Early risers
might find that they’re at their most productive and alert early in the
morning. For night owls, the opposite is true.
Regardless of when you’re most productive, always choose to
do your most important tasks when your energy levels are at their best. Your
productivity should rise, as a result.
It’s late in the year and we’re all weary.
I’m choosing to take strength from the Springboks recent
World Cup win and I’m not giving up until the finish line is crossed.
Join me in ending 2019 with a strong sprint – not a slow
walk (into oblivion).
Good luck! #FinishStrong