What Lessons Does the All Blacks Victory Provide Every New Zealander?

by Daniel Batten on November 8, 2015

What if our All Black win represented something deeper than a sporting victory?

What if it were

…the dawn of a nation’s maturity?
… the blueprint for all skilled kiwis to win globally?

There’s a sweetness surrounding New Zealand’s World Cup win that goes beyond winning. We’ve won things before – the 2000 Americas Cup, blitzed the 2004 Academy Awards, numerous inspired Olympic gold, and of course our 2011 Rugby World Cup win.

But this one is different.

The All Blacks can feel it. I feel it. Every kiwi I’ve spoken to can feel it.




It’s a word straight from the All Blacks vocabulary. They haven’t just won an event, they’ve created a legacy that leaves things better than they found it.

Just look at the evidence…

The neutral crowd support was for the All Blacks – NOT the underdogs.

Unheard of.

Around the world, neutral celebrities from Sir Richard Branson to Kevin Costner donned the All Black jerseys of support.
The world’s media heaped praise on not only the win, not only the style they won with, but for who they are as people.
That some now call these All Blacks the greatest sports team in history – something you don’t achieve through having a skilled team alone – points to three critical innovations that were made over a decade alone.

These three innovations flew in the face of tradition at the time.

1. “Better people make better All Blacks”. Ie: self-improvement matters

Out went the culture of boozing, loose morals and loose discipline – and in came high standards of personal accountability and ongoing commitment to self-improvement on & off the field. Ma’a Nonu (my personal fave) exemplified this. As coach-Hansen said of Nonu – over 12 years he didn’t just be one a more complete rugby player, he became a more complete person. The two went hand in hand. This culture extended to how they treated others too. Opponents were treated with respect; defeated foes consoled.

2. Leadership matters

Leadership was redefined as something that permeates ALL areas of life, not just on-field performance. They created very strong peer-accountability. If anyone let the team down (such as by drinking too close to a game) – they had to answer to their own leadership group, who lead by example, not by fear.
The soft-spoken big-hearted Kevin Mealamu exemplified this leadership.

3. Mental skill matters

Not only did the All Blacks bring on specialist mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka to help them stay present in pressure situations, but their whole language changed.
— “Worry is a useless emotion”, and
— “The minute you say to yourself you can’t, you won’t” and
— “Sometimes athletes over-obsess about goals – we focus on enjoying the journey too.”

These three innovations vanquished the old “win at all costs” approach which hampers the efforts of so many sporting teams to create legacy – including the Australian cricket team who achieved sporting greatness, but not legacy. No one outside cricket talks about them – because they achieved results on the back of behaviours that makes it hard for their country to be proud of them and impossible for neutrals to admire them.

By contrast, the 2015 All Blacks win is symbolic of two important things.

1. The All Blacks won by maturing into more complete versions of their own highest authentic potential. Insodoing, they’ve showed us how any kiwi can all reach their potential and create legacy.

2. It represents the start of New Zealand celebrating the soft measures – not only the number eight wire. Personal growth, leadership development and mental skill development work not only in sport – but any area where we seek global expression.

For example business, like the All Blacks last millennium, has its rituals that do not serve excellence: long hours, sacrificing other dimensions of live to eek out results, poo-pooing personal development and seeing leadership growth and mental skill development as somehow soft or luxuries that don’t improve the balance sheet. Well, as the All Blacks have proven with their incredible balance sheet of wins – of games, hearts and minds – this is dinosaur age thinking.

If it’s good enough for the All Blacks – it’s good enough for us all to follow their powerful lead.

Just imagine if we created the same legacy in everything we do.

It’s possible.

The All Blacks have show us the way.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Juliet November 8, 2015 at 2:28 pm

Brilliant. So clear and so right. Legacy is such a powerful concept and it explains so much about this success, and the true value of it. I see you describing a shift from individualist culture to collective culture. Have Maori and Pacific concepts of communal value been an influence I wonder?

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