The 6AM Agency CEO Gillian Fish is honoured to have had the opportunity to talk #Resilience to some of Australia’s elite water athletes including Olympians at the annual UNSW Wests Water Polo 2020 Fundraiser, in Sydney this month. Hosted by President Phil de Gail, Treasurer Peppi Kearney, the committee and the organising team including Katie Sverchek and colleagues and MC’d by Simon Poidevin AM, it was an event to be immensely proud of, during a year of highs and lows, wins and disappointments, as the UNSW Pool remains closed, making training for this and other elite teams that much harder, coupled with the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics.
Connecting with such an elite group of athletes highlighted the role that sports plays in our society, not only from a community collective and ‘entertainment’ perspective, but from the great athletes it breeds, from a young age, who through sheer determination, focus, consistently hard work to get better and better coupled with resilience and grit, make for outstanding human beings in both sport and business.
The understanding of expectations and what great looks like, what winning together as a team looks like, and on a personal level, with the sacrifice it takes to get there, seems to be clearly understood and accepted. For one does not become an elite athlete, or reach Olympic heights, nor win an award for an agency, for example, without these very same traits.
One of the greatest books I have read is ‘Legacy’ by James Kerr which shares insights into the success of the almighty All Blacks and what the leadership and team culture can teach us all about ‘the business of life’. According to Kerr, when the team are facing their opponents, as the pulse of the Haka echoes through the stadium, ‘they show up with a collective passion and purpose’ underpinned by ‘a culture, an identity, an ethos, a belief system’ that their opponent has to face, which is formidable.
The role of the coach, the mentor, the leader is key to this success – the setting of a framework to learn and grow and keep evolving, in a safe environment – an ‘adaptive’ culture, to quote Kerr, with stretch goals, continuous improvement. And each individual’s motivation to lean into that for team success. As Kerr quotes in his book, “it is not the strongest who survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change’ based on Charles Darwin and his Theory of Evolution.
So the question is, how do we learn from the teamwork of the great sporting teams, to become better leaders of our personal success and our team success, no matter what work we do? Spending time with these elite athletes, was deeply enriching, with much to learn. Thank you UNSW Wests Water Polo Club. Thank you.