Diversity, Servitude and Grit – What Rugby Can Teach Us About Business and Life

*Pictured above – Pat Riordan, Captain of the Canadian Rugby Team 2011 Rugby World Cup.  Embodied the traits that are exposed through rugby.

Rugby is a beautiful, brutal, intellectual, and inspiring sport.

Our team here at 360 has produced many fantastic insights on topics relevant to the world of Oil and Gas Liability and ARO.  These topics are generally well-received, are thoughtful and intelligently written.  For this insight though, I would like to shift gears and discuss something near and dear to my heart – the sport of rugby and lessons it can teach those who are exposed to it.

Lately, I have been listening to a podcast called The Corporate Competitor (https://donyaeger.com/corporate-competitor-podcast/), which discusses the impact of sport on some of the top Fortune 500 executives in America.  It is a fantastic podcast that exposes many of the lessons learned through sport and how they have been applied over their business careers.  There are stories from CEOs, Military Leaders, Sports Icons and many more, which help paint the picture of the impact that sport can have on life and business.

So, in wanting to expand on that theme, I am inspired to write on the sport of rugby and the lessons one can expect to glean from involvement in one of the greatest games on the planet.

In trying to distill rugby’s impact on business, I am focusing on 3 main themes:  Diversity, Servitude and Grit.  There are undoubtedly more, but in a quest to stay under 900 words, we will have to exercise some restraint.

Diversity

The beauty of rugby is that all are invited: Women, Men, Old, Young, Gay, Straight, Religious, Atheist, Big, Small, Tall, Short, Round, Square, White, Black, Brown, Fast, Slow, Smart, Not-so-smart, Wealthy, Poor, Able-bodied, Not-so-able bodied etc. etc.  (you get the picture).  Additionally, the strength of community rugby (or club rugby) is that there are multiple levels and age groups across a single club.  From U7’s through to “Golden Oldies”, club players are exposed to a variety of skills, coaching, team members and international stars right in their home club. The inclusive nature of the sport lends itself to a mosaic of human experiences, and this perspective extends to the business arena as we all seek to include more voices with diverse backgrounds.  It has been proven that diverse thought leadership is what drives forward-thinking businesses. The added benefit of the diverse rugby landscape is the ability to integrate into wide-ranging team environments fit seamlessly into business life.

Servitude

“We are only just custodians of the jersey”.  This is a phrase that was adopted by one of the teams I was involved in and which really hit home after having left the game.  The ethos is that while you have an opportunity to serve the organization, you must earn it, you must care for it, you must respect the role you play in the organization, and you must respect those who have come before and those who may come after.  This concept of Servitude transitions to business easily as we think about building a culture of giving, supporting, and highlighting the importance of individual roles.  Similarly, when we think about being awarded contracts and winning client engagements, this highlights the need to continue to treat every engagement as though it could be your last and to continue to earn the respect, love, and admiration of those who value your service.  Lastly from an organizational leadership perspective, Servitude is something that applies at all levels of the organization.  From newly hired grads, to the senior executive leadership, focusing on serving the team first and foremost will always pay dividends in any role.

Grit

The sheer nature of contact sport lends itself to building courage and strength of character.  Rugby in particular stands up in this regard as it takes a considerable amount of fortitude to plow into someone without pads as fast as you possibly can.  Then to get up and do it again and again over the course of a game.  Additionally, the taxing nature and the aerobic and anaerobic requirements of the sport and the need to think continuously on your feet allows people to realize their potential to push themselves past where they may have been comfortable before.  When we cross these traits into business, it is easy to draw parallels to one’s ability to rise to challenges, overcome periods where you are down, and to be able to drive towards goals through thick and thin.

I realize that the traits above can be built through a number of life experiences and that one cannot definitively say that playing rugby = success in life.  BUT I can say with direct, first-hand knowledge of the Game Played in Heaven that if you are exposed to rugby, there is a good chance you will start on a path to learning a few of these key life skills.  And while I know this piece may only occupy your thoughts for a brief period of time, my hope is that fans of rugby will reach out and add to my list of quality traits and that those who are curious will also engage to find out what it takes to be a part of this great game (just commit, because you are definitely welcome!).

Yours in business and rugby,

Ryan

 

“I don’t believe in magic. I believe in hard work.”

– Richie McCaw

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