Digital graphic of tactics used in rugby game

From Scrums to Success

jonny-wilkinson-blog“Rugby teaches you so much. I wouldn’t have learnt anywhere near as much as I have about life through rugby by doing something else. Things like leadership, team work, respect, how to deal with setbacks. Without rugby I’m not sure what I would have done.” (Jonny Wilkinson, 91 times capped England rugby legend, to the Evening Standard)

With the Rugby World Cup just around the corner we started to reflect on these sentiments expressed by Jonny. So many of the skills developed on the pitch can be transferred off it, particularly when focusing on business.

Effective networking is arguably one of the most valuable aspects of the success of most businesses. Playing rugby gives you an immediate advantage with a team full of players names already in your contact book.  Managing Director of Bespoke Moving Solutions Roger Aiken says “I still work with guys I played rugby with over thirty years ago, my lawyer, gardener, financial advisor and accountant being just some of them.”

Building contacts is vital whether they be potential business partners or clients and this comes with confidence. Making big business decisions requires a certain level of self-belief, especially when you’re running your own company and this attribute is something that must be honed on the pitch. You want to be confident enough to make quick or difficult decisions with the knowledge that your teammates also have confidence in you. Being confident (not arrogant) allows clients to feel comfortable with your services but it also makes public speaking and networking a lot easier.

At its root rugby is a social sport. Jonny listed team work and respect as important transferrable skills to have because without them you stand alone and in business this simply does not work. Respect for yourself, clients, colleagues and most significantly your competition all provide a means for a wholesome business mind.

Perseverance and motivation are two of the most critical attributes you can develop from playing rugby. On the field it’s about discipline and hard work so off it the same rules apply. Staying motivated, particularly when you are self-employed can be challenging. Setting goals whether they are daily or yearly is a valuable way to maintain focus.

Learning to deal with success and failure can be the most difficult skill to master as both come with their own burdens. Success can bring amazing opportunities whilst simultaneously making you a target for opposition. It’s even more necessary to stay ahead of the game when you’re on top. Failure is of course disheartening but we all know that it is how you deal with it that demonstrates your true character. In rugby failure should be used to motivate and improve, in business it is no different.

The 5 most valuable learning achievements Roger Aiken has taken from rugby to business:

  • Understanding the rules and making them work to my best advantage
  • The importance of training and planning, with specific goals and targets always at the forefront
  • How to work successfully with people from all walks of life, nationalities and cultures
  • The importance of trusting and empowering colleagues
  • How to effectively manage both cooperative and competitive relationships.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this. What business learning achievements have you gained from playing rugby or any other sports?

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