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Nov 25
Finish Strong

finish line.PNGFinish Strong

Author: Georgina Barrick


On 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.

Six 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’…


I’ll admit that, after that first loss, I was very worried about the inevitable negativity that was starting to make its way into conversation.

It’s hard 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 different.

But, they were.


Instead of giving up, the team refused to let the fact that others had written them off define them.

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.

Giving up 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 hand.

In doing 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).


Much has 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.

We’re heading into the final stretch of what has (for many of us) been a really challenging year.

The economy has been tough, the political landscape unnerving and the sword of downgrade remains hanging firmly over our heads.  

And, while 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 finish strong.

The race is always won, not by those who try or mean well, but by those who finish.

It helps that building and sustaining momentum now is the smarter way to give 2020 a fast start.

So, how do we finish 2019 strong?  


Recommit (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.


Be Self-Aware…

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 customer service).

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. 


Set Deadlines…

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 with perfectionism.

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



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