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My Heartfelt Advice To The Graduates On How To Triumph For Yourself

1_201728_1_5“You have to bring your ‘A game’ when it really counts, Chris,” cautioned my colleague before a critical meeting. He was off track. Adding value is NOT about nailing big moments. That helps. But THIS is what REALLY counts if you want to have a great career.

I have been preparing a speech to give to a group of ‘communications’ graduates soon, when I chanced upon an article about the greatness of All Black rugby captain Richie McCaw. One sentence summed up the most critical ingredient to his awesome success, and to career success- and will form the message of my talk to the graduates. Here it is:

“The greatness (of Richie McCaw)  is not in the magic of the moment but the ability to repeat what he has been doing game after game…year after year….”

“Not for him the flash of brilliance,” wrote Stuart Barnes about Richie. “His is a case of breakdown after breakdown and contact after contact, collision after collision and victory after victory.” McCaw just keeps on keeping on.

Not all agree. They cruise for much of the time, and then lift for that moment in the sun- and nail the big moment. The peanut gallery cheers, and laud the moment, but those in the know shake their heads with melancholy smiles. They know the truth. The ‘big moments’ specialists don’t survive longer term in business. It’s just not enough.

Here’s the message: If you want to be ‘on the team’ all the way to that neeeeext World Cup…  contributing, valuable, wanted, energized…. then you quite simple have to bring your A game with you every day.

But wait- there’s more.

Yes- bring your A game every day, but also do what Richie does so brilliantly- he cheats (now New Zealanders- calm down Possums, settle, and read on):

“Richie played his entire career on the thin line between what is and what is not legal. He’s the greatest open sider flanker of them all, and the greatest cheat of them all. The latter is a compliment,” writes Barnes, ”not an insult.”

And that’s the second message for today, borrowed from Calvin Klein. First, bring your A game every day, and second, make sure you always take the opportunity to Dance With Controversy. Flirt with that line between what is ‘normal’ and what is ‘at the edge’ of what you do. Push it out there.

As Tom Peters once wrote: “If you want a career on the high seas, don’t join the navy. Become a pirate instead.”

I am feeling more energized than ever. With help, I have rebuilt confidence, self-respect and self-esteem after a tough patch of second guessing myself. I feel invincible – clarity of  purpose, of my value, focus and options. It feels great. Some of my mates were saying they were looking forward to ‘slowing down.’ I feel exactly the opposite- I want to speed up!

I feel blessed at the palate of opportunities that lie in front of me. I love (most of) what I do now, and clarity of options is empowering. I am grateful to feel this way as I approach my 54th birthday. Then again,  maybe it’s true that the harder you work, the luckier you get.

I have worked fricken hard at bringing my A game on as many days as possible, for 30 years now. I have never rested on my laurels, have always judged myself on what I deliver NEXT. And at the same time, I’ve loved pushing boundaries along the way. Has not made me universally loved. Has been huge fun though- and no regrets. Well- few regrets.

For those young graduates, my hope is they get the same opportunity. The opportunity of opportunity. They can have it. Just bring your A game along every day, and remember, don’t always salute that bland, follow all the rules ‘navy’ flag every day- maybe be a pirate sometimes. Way to go! Worked for Richie. And I salute him today.

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11 Responses to My Heartfelt Advice To The Graduates On How To Triumph For Yourself

  1. Dee November 11, 2014 at 9:33 pm #

    Hi Chris, is this a repost? I’m sure I’ve read it before 😉 No I’m joking it was another spot on post. My dog walking business has really taken off, I’ve got 2 clients now! ​ Don’t forget to donate

  2. Paul November 12, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    Car 54 where are you? is a constant question for me too btw…. But going to the edge is so much easier said than done. Everyone wants it. It’s scary when you’re there and you feel the chill of the updraft. So IMHO, there are many who talk the talk, some who walk the walk, and very few who leap the leap. is that your experience? And yet putting myself in the path of change kind of feels like my job description. Your thoughts?

    • Chris Savage November 12, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

      Paul- for me, it’s not about big stuff but about a lot of little stuff… small decisions or actions every day that just don’t calibrate with a flag saluting crowd member. It does not have to be huge stuff. That’s how I do it. Not sure I could live on the edge. I just try to wink at it as often as I can. Chris

  3. Sophia Jane November 12, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    brilliance CJS

    • Chris Savage November 12, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

      Sophia – thanks. Perhaps now focus on your work!!

  4. Don Anderson November 12, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    To borrow from a recently spotted T-shirt:

    “I am not an alcoholic – I just have a drink every time Richie McCaw is offside”

    Cheers Chris – love reading “possums”

    • Chris Savage November 12, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

      Good one, Don! That gave me a good laugh. Thanks! Chris

  5. Clare Robinson November 13, 2014 at 8:30 am #

    Great post as always Chris. I agree ‘A Game’, healthy fear used to ‘push the boundaries’ and make the leaps and I’d add one more thing…demonstrate how much you care. Caring to me is about not just giving a shit about the outcome, it’s about wanting to make a difference to yourself and all those around you. It shines through, it produces forward momentum, even when your actions my polarise your ‘good intent’ can often allow you to be forgiven. Keep on sharing the goodies Chris!

    • Chris Savage November 13, 2014 at 9:33 am #

      Thanks Clare! Agree entirely.

  6. Santana November 22, 2014 at 7:04 am #

    the only problem with “big moment specialists” is that they retire early with a comfortable sum on their bank accounts.
    that’s no insult. it’s a simple fact.

    • Chris Savage November 22, 2014 at 11:38 am #

      Fair enough, Santana. Some certainly do. Chris

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