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Transcending Pressure to Achieve Success

As many of you will know, over the past year I’ve been working directly with Waratahs Rugby (NSW Rugby), and in this series of 3 articles, I will explore a few key learnings that I think are applicable to everyone…



After a dismal 2017 season, the Waratahs knew they needed to make some significant changes, if they were going to learn and grow enough, to make a comeback this year (2018).  Their performance had been steadily declining for the past few years, and the coaches and management were intent on quickly turning around their performance for the 2018 season.  


Supporting the Waratahs

There was an immense amount of pressure to transform and start 2018, as a different team. So Waratahs Rugby turned to The Coaching Room for guidance. Jobs were on the line, and the team was playing not only for their careers but also for the careers of their coaches and managers.  The team knew that they were training hard enough and they had the potential for success but there was still something missing.


Moving Beyond Current Capabilities

My primary role in working with the Waratahs, is to observe the coaches, give high-quality feedback and coach them integrate to their blindspots (in leading and communicating)..  I watch how they show up and how they lead a high-level of performance with the players. In addition to helping the coaches lead more effectively, I also work with the players on self leadership and self development.


Integrating with the Team and Changing Routines

The challenge I faced in early 2018, was that the team did not really know me.  I needed to integrate with the players and coaches to effectively become an accepted and trusted member of the team, whilst simultaneously remaining objective .  What made this integration difficult was that I’m not a member of the team and would not be a part of any game. I needed to integrate as an outsider, not as an insider.

Even though I was not a member of the team, my role in the recent tour to South Africa and Argentina,  was to help facilitate a successful tour-outcome. From that perspective, I was able to add stability by helping the coaches with new approaches to engage the players. I worked with the coaches on changing their language to better relate and connect with the players.

The biggest opportunity was to help them shake up their routines to move away from previous cultures. 


Pressure Only Exists in Mind

What I learned from my coaching experience with the Waratahs, was actually something I had already known, but to see it and understand it at an embodied level was quite different. What this experience showed me is that high pressure is all in the mind.  The reality is that high pressure does not exist out-there. The pressure that the Waratahs experienced, is the same pressure that we put on ourselves in our everyday lives, exists only in our minds, about out-there (expectations, worry about performance, anxiety about future outcomes etc.). The takeaway here is that we all have the opportunity to transcend (self-created) pressure by doing the work that can release us from it. That’s what developmental coaching is all about.

Next time, we will look at how you too can lead through anxiety and find flow…


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