How To Win Without Trying To Win-A Secret to Business and Career Success
I am in the midst of the most terrifying role I have ever had- coach of an Under 10 fourth grade rugby team. And it is teaching me massive lessons about life, business and success- no more so than what happened this past Sunday. Read on- you’ll never forget this message.
When I reluctantly agreed a few weeks ago to coach the local Under 10 fourths rugby team, I dusted off notes taken when world record undefeated Brisbane Roar soccer coach Ange Postecoglou spoke to our leaders meeting 18 months ago. I had NO IDEA how to approach coaching rugby, or indeed coaching under 10s! But I wanted, as always, to do the best I could do, particularly for this enthusiastic young team.
Now- luckily, Ange knows his stuff. Deep in my notes was the magical insight I am using (with co-coach John) to help this team build confidence, improve, and have fun. It’s an insight absolutely relevant to driving business or career success. Here it is.
“Focus on the way you play, not on the scoreboard.”
How did Ange coach The Roar to a world record number of games undefeated (of any sport)? “I forgot totally about winning or losing. Instead, I focused our energies on playing the game the way we trained, and to play to our key indicators. Sometimes we’d win 1-0 and I’d be hugely unhappy as we’d not played to our game plan. Or, in the early days, we’d lose 0-2 but I would be thrilled, because we were making progress on our game plan. Eventually we improved, and consistently delivered a winning style of play, every week.”
So- with Ange’s voice ringing in my ears- I told the boys this at the first training session: “Here’s our plan: we are going to be the best team in the competition at four things: Tackling, Attack (recycling the ball, running straight, offloads), Passing, and Spreading in defense. It’s our TAPS plan. It’s all we are going to focus on. Every week our goal is to see a five to 10 percent improvement in how we play to our TAPS plan. And we don’t care about the scoreboard.” They looked at me blankly.
Game One: lost 10-25: lots of effort, little sticking to any plan…. Game Two: lost 10-30: some significant improvement in Tackling….. Game Three: lost 10-27 : solid improvement across the board except poor Passing….. Game Four: Won 22-10: with superb Attack play, and best ever Passing….. Game Five: won 26-10… solid progress on all fronts. Game Six (this past Sunday): Won 39-10: with further improvement across the board and real team spirit and cohesiveness building. At each half time, and at the end of each game, we review how our TAPS plan is being delivered. The boys are enthusiastically realistic and direct: they know what is expected, and are keen to judge how they are doing against the plan. At training, we keep it simple and work on improving basic TAPS skills. And- it IS working. Oh- and the boys tell me they are having “heaps of fun.”
Point is- Ange is right. If you want to succeed, focus on the way you play, not on the scoreboard. If you have the right plan, and keep improving on the way you execute, success will come. And – ideally- keep that plan simple. Ange was also brave of course. “I removed time as a factor in my decision making. I made decisions as if I was going to be in the role for a long time, and was prepared to suffer the consequences.” Ange triumphed. But be cautious. If the plan is not delivering results, at some point, in the words of comedian Andrew Denton on how he stayed at the top of comedy for so long: “When in doubt- change the routine!”
Now, the Under 10 Fourths have another 12 games to play… a long season ahead. Will this approach keep working? I sure as hell hope because if it doesn’t, I won’t be able to show myself at the local shops again. Oh- the pressure, the pressure……..!!! And what was the key indicator Ange set for his team? Simply this: to score more goals than any other team in the competition. Think about how that would shape the way you played the game……