I have been overwhelmed by the impact the book has made on so many people since its launch. Hearing so many people talk so heart-warmingly about it has been very touching.
The journey to put the book together, and the consequences of writing it, are as relevant as the pages the ink has dried on. The book talks about my personal journey both professionally and emotionally, and I’m very proud of the tale we have told and the stories we have shared. I haven’t gone about to purposefully upset anyone, but tried to tell my journey thus far through my eyes and feelings. I have been honest about myself, in how I see life, and how I want to lead it.
I guess in many ways the book is written as the best version of me. Living in the present, being kind to others, treating people with respect, and being grateful for what you have and the people around you. Bringing out the best in people. Value those I love. These are all things I try to be and do when I’m at my best.
Getting the culture right
Professionally I worked hard on creating such a culture within the Fiji 7s set up, knowing that getting the culture right would have a major impact on the performances leading into and at the Olympics when it mattered most. Perhaps this striving for the right culture as a coach has been the result of my own transition from player to coach. I wasn’t an International test rugby player or even had a long stint playing professionally. So getting the top jobs in the game would always be difficult. I had to prove myself as a coach and with it show that these values can be married with success.
Even though one continually pushes these values as a coach, it can be hard to be like that personally all the time. We all have bad habits, get affected by our emotions and create negative behaviours, and I am certainly no exception. I talk honestly in the book about some of these behaviours, particularly at the start of Chapter 11, and I will go into more detail about these behaviours, and therapy, in my next blog.
I do strive to live my personal life like the best version of myself, and professionally in the way I want the game to be played and the culture it exists in. But it isn’t always easy and flaws can surface and make me behave differently. It is about being authentic, and ensuring this authenticity is consistent.
I throw the word authentic around a lot, when it has often been the case that I haven’t actually subscribed to that myself all the time. Perhaps I have lacked consistency at times, but not in a conscious way. Taking people and friendships for granted, slipping back to more material ways, listening to answer but not to understand, or feeding one’s ego at the expense of others. These are all things I, and players, have been guilty of, and an example played out by a member of the Fijian Olympic squad in Rio, cited in the book, demonstrating how such behaviours can have a detrimental affect on performance.
The effect of Sevens Heaven
I wanted to say all this because I’ve had a lot of people take the time recently to reach out to me and say how I’ve inspired them, or have simply contacted me to thank me. The launch of the book has brought messages that have been touching and connecting as some see the book as a reinforcer to take risks, others to change diet or lose weight or get fit, whilst some relate my personal experiences I’ve talked about to their own road they are on. I’m very grateful for all they have said and the tears they have shed on more than one occasion reading the stories that make up our journey to Rio.
When I’m at my best I’d like to think I can really contribute to those around me. Coaching Fiji was an opportunity for me to experience and revisit the best version of me again. But I have been a dimmed-down version of me at times too, both before I was in Fiji, at moments on the islands, and certainly since Rio in that period of decompression and change.
Consciously striving and continually growing
It’s always good for me to remember that I am always striving to do the best I can from my own level of consciousness and awareness, and I need to remember not to beat myself up if things don’t always go as they should. I need to remember that wherever one is on their journey, it’s never too late to start making those changes.
Fiji for sure gave me that reset button to change a lot of things but it also led to me seeing that I had a lot that wouldn’t be changed just by what I saw and experienced there. A change of job and environment, and even culture, can certainly give you a reset but the key is to understand that we are all continually growing and changing, and to accept this and have the self-awareness to make those changes. Just like goal setting, small steps will get you there as long as you have committed to them and they are taking you forward. In future blogs I will talk about the ‘reset’ buttons I used for players, staff and myself. I also talk about the importance of understanding those around me and how I did this to support them to bring out their best version.
Staying in the present
The author and poet Yung Pueblo sums up well how I aspire to grow when he says:
I gathered my habits
and started releasing
the ones that can
never lead me to
lasting freedom and joy.
Staying in the present and not thinking about the past or the future is hard but as soon as you start to focus on being grateful for the here and now you will be surprised by how that can give you a mindset shift in such a positive way. It’s often as simple as one moment, one morning, one day at a time when you want to make those changes or you are going through some harder times. I’ll talk about mindful behaviour in another blog soon too, discussing more about what I touch upon in the book, the happiness of living in the moment as being such a central part of Island life and culture.
I’ll also have some more blogs coming up soon around tools I’ve seen used, or used myself, to help in the various areas I’ve talked about above.
Thanks again for all the love surrounding the book. It’s been amazing!