I love this article on Kevin Sinfield, a Rugby League legend and the first player from his sport to be nominated for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY). It’s a great advert for Rugby League and great advice for aspiring players in all sports.
Doing the right thing right – 5 lessons from Kevin Sinfield
However it also has some important lessons for sports organisations. Success comes from doing the right things right:
– be guided by a common purpose and shared values
– stay focused on a clear vision of success
– be clear about your priorities
– be honest about your strengths and weaknesses
– be disciplined about making the right choices (get good at saying no)
Be guided by a common purpose and shared values
“I owe rugby league everything,” Sinfield says, “From the age of seven, the values and morals that I picked up are still very much with me today.” Sinfield describes those vales as “Hard work. But also, how you treat people. It’s so important in a team sport: how you go about your business, how you interact, the relationships you build.”
Stay focused on a clear vision of success
Since he went to a Wembley Cup Final at the age of 11, Sinfield has had a clear vision of his future playing the sport. All these year later, he still has a clear vision of what success looks like to him, a vision that drives his daily priorities and decision-making. “In its simplest form,” he says, “it’s the buzz I got from playing well. That’s what I craved.”
Be clear about your priorities
Success comes from defining and following a clear set of priorities, which means becoming very good at saying no. The article sums it up by saying ‘if there is an extra sprint to be done, he will do it. If there is a slap-up meal to be turned down, he will turn it down.’
Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses
“I was aware of my weaknesses. I wasn’t the strongest, the fastest, the most skilful, the fittest. But I was also aware of my strengths. There was one area where I knew I could stand out, and that was by being the most committed.”
Be disciplined about making the right choices
The article reflects on the dedication and work ethic that creates a superstar, but often gets forgotten by those aspiring to that success. He works hard, eats right, drinks only a handful of times a year. Sinfield’s commitment to a life of sacrifice is total. “Part of me is proud of that,” he says. “But part of me at times resents it. Because it can be a really, really tough life. But I have to be this way. It has to be all or nothing.
High performance is hard to achieve but it’s not a mystery
In summary, Kevin Sinfield shares the same qualities as other sporting legends. They all have a clear vision of success, are clear about the priorities they need to maintain to get there, and they have the discipline to make the right choices every day. But these principles aren’t limited to sports stars. Organisations in every sector can perform at a higher level by following the same principles. Yes it’s hard, but then gold medals and market leadership aren’t given out to everybody.