I know of a young player that on his first day in his new club – one of the best in Europe – he walked in and the first person he met was one of the coaches.
His first conversation could have been this….
“Welcome to (insert club name in here) one of the best clubs on the planet. If you work hard and give it your best then you are going to love it here.”
Shakes hand warmly, smiles and shows him around.
Perhaps even this….
” Hi (insert players name here). It’s so good for you to be with us now and I’m really excited about working with you and getting the very best out of you.”
Shakes hand, smiles and introduces him to other staff.
But not what he did say….
“You’ve got a double-barrelled name. Must be a public school twat.“
That’s a welcome that set the scene and it only went downhill from there. The club involved may have been working tirelessly to create a great environment and it was all blown apart by one very misguided individual.
I have many, many more examples I’ve witnessed and been retold in the last decade or so.
Culture. It’s a word bandied about freely without understanding or living it.
It’s not about having regular meetings or wearing the same kit. It’s not about having protein shakes waiting for you as you finish training or that day’s session edited and sent straight to your iPad. It’s not about having one to one gym training or a team bonding weekend going up and down an army assault course.
No, it’s about creating a constant environment that allows EVERYONE to become the very best they can be and in turn creating a team before me mentality.
That can be achieved not with big budgets or resources. You need to have a very clear framework in which everyone operates and understands how to behave and interact and that EVERYONE connects behaviour off the field with success off it.
Once you have that clear framework then you need to all live it all the time.
When I was with Fiji we often talk about the Gold Medal game at Rio long before we knew we would be playing in it.
Everyone understood that if we lost that game because of a miss tackle or dropped ball that it wasn’t the tackle or the dropped catch that caused our loss.
Rather it was something we would have done days, weeks or perhaps even months previously that was below our agreed standards and behaviour.
When that connection is made then magnificent things can happen and in many of the blogs to come I’ll talk in more detail in the fundamentals you need to achieve an environment you are truly proud of.