Three weeks of nail biting, heart stopping, blood pressure raising World Cup Rugby watching eventually come to an end on Saturday evening. The Springboks, South Africa’s national rugby team, were once again the World Cup Champions. The only team to have won it four times, the second to have done it at consecutive World Cups.
As the final whistle blew, players still furiously fighting for the ball, we froze. Disbelief suspended spectators for a second. Then the referee’s arm went up signalling that, yes, the game had ended, 12-11 to South Africa. A collective sigh of relief was expelled. While players from the bench and support staff rushed onto the rugby field in Paris, people around South Africa, Africa and the world, jumped and cheered, like Matthew, or like Chantal, doubled up and wept.
Weeks of “will we - won’t we make it?” questions edged with equal measure of hope and anxiety had taken their toll along with multiple late nights and too-close finishes. The quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals all won by one measly point. A tiny point that made all the difference.
Wins are not always big
When we consider what it takes to succeed, we often imagine big wins, substantial gains, and sizable margins. However on the sporting front a fraction of a second, a hair's breadth, and a nose often become the difference between first and second place.
Giving it a final drive in that last stretch, muscles screaming in pain, lungs bursting for air, and the energy stores down to a whiff, is what it takes. And it still may not be enough to win.
Losing well and learning from the losses are as important as the wins. The truly successful lose more times than they win and keep on going. Practising more and more intensely to perfect the moves and make more precise the often imperceptible adjustments to become the best.
Joy and jubilation personified in both of us!
Precision in play
Precision in play was what differentiated the tier one and tier two teams at the Rugby World Cup. The lack of international play time, less investment in the team members, coaching staff and practice was easily discernible in these teams during the pool stages.
As the teams entered the knockout battles the precision in play narrowed down until the finals where the team that eventually won was the one that was statistically the most exact across the entire competition.
What brings about precision? Practice. Failure. Practice. Disappointment. More practice. And more practice. Moving from clumsy, uncoordinated and uncomfortable with the new skills and habits to inculcating the moves, behaviours and thought patterns so that they become part of who we are.
The best laid plans
Every person, team, or company wishing to succeed has to have a well thought out plan. But even the best laid plans can go awry. Being flexible, adaptable and resilient while continuing to muster the trust that it will all work out in the end are key champion traits. It would have been easy for the Springbok squad to doubt their ability to get through the most difficult road to the final in World Cup history.
In light of the number of top players that were out of contention due to injury and more that fell by the wayside as the competition continued, right up to losing their key hooker only minutes into the first half of the finals, it is remarkable that the team didn’t fall apart. There were moments of disarray evident in fumbling catches, stumbling passes and off centre kicks but cool heads and a common goal quickly pulled the crew back together.
If you are wondering what happened to the beetroot we grew, here it is - pickled and ready to make a delicious sandwich!
It takes a team
It is never only one person that makes a champion. There is a team behind every successful person, be they sportspeople, business people, artists or performers. A team behind the team.
The champions shine in the spotlight, everyone knows their name and beams in the rays of their smiles. While behind them hovers a dedicated group who tirelessly work together towards the same goal, their names unrecognised, their faces a blur.
To be on the top of your game you simply cannot do it on your own. Especially when the game is purpose-driven, world changing, people impacting, healing, growing, generative work. Coach, consultant, healer, guide - nobody who wishes to make a profound impact can do it on their own. Personal support in the form of one’s own coach, supervisor or mentor as well as a community of practice and a network of peers is as important as the physio, defence coach and team doctor.
Our upcoming workshops that support you to find your purpose: 4 November, 18 November & 24 November
Time out to tune in
What all top teams and sportspeople do well is they know they cannot perform at their peak indefinitely. For them rest, time out, and rejuvenating breaks are as crucial as the impact of the training and the intensity of the performance.
Curiously, this does not seem to have landed in the world of business and work. A persistent expectation that you can go, go, go, multitask effectively, work all hours, and need little in the way of rest, serves only to carve out chronic anxiety, deepen depression and sustain stress that leads to burnout. The body never lies. The body needs rest. Honour the body and the body will honour you.
We are in the penultimate month of a long and difficult year. Stop for a moment and reflect on how you are training for your “world cup”. It may be time to reassess, regroup, realign. It may be time to put in that last gasp of energy before taking time out, remembering to honour the team behind you while you celebrate your accomplishments.
Until next time.
Yours in feeling,
Matthew & Chantal
About the author
5th Place is a dynamic organization that's passionate about emotional fitness. We're the creators of Shape of Emotion, a revolutionary tool that's changing the way we understand and manage our emotions. But we're not just about theory - we're about practical, tangible change.
We offer Emotional Fitness Classes and courses that help individuals, from children to adults, build emotional resilience and well-being. For our younger audience, we've created the Vibarealm, a vibrant universe that encourages a healthier interaction with emotions.
Join us on this journey to emotional fitness and let's make the world a better place together.