First published on The Rugby Business Network
My rugby coach at Esher, Mike Schmid was an ex Canadian rugby international who fell for an English lass when playing at Rotherham and ended up settling down in Surrey and coaching Esher. As a player he was a big and imposing back row player with a distinctive flat top haircut. He played with passion and determination and that was also how he coached, with passion and determination and that is why the players liked him so much. He certainly meant what he said.
One hot afternoon during a preseason training camp in Italy, we had been on the receiving end of a tough fitness session when the team bus dropped us off at the bottom of the hill by the hotel. The players got off and wearily walked up the steep hill to our picturesque hotel surrounded by vineyards. I was one of the last off the bus and I heard Mike cursing behind me as he noticed that there had been litter left throughout the bus after we had agreed as a team the day before that we would all take our own litter with us from wherever we were as a team. ‘Get everyone back down here now!’ he shouted. Mike rarely properly lost his temper but when he did he meant it. The last few players off the bus ran up the hill and got all of the boys to come back down. Mike got all of the boys in a circle and poured the rubbish out of a bag on to the ground in the car park to show us what we had left on the bus and said:
‘Guys I’m really angry and this isn’t just about the rubbish, this is about the standards we set ourselves as individuals and as players. In life if you say you are going to do something you should do what you said you would no matter how big or how small the task.
‘If you let little things slip then the big things suffer. If you do one less squat or cut a corner in fitness then you cheat yourself and you cheat the team. If all of us let ourselves slip into sub-standard practices it will show on a Saturday afternoon and that is when we can’t afford to have anyone at less than 100%.
‘If we all accept poor standards relating to discipline and give away a penalty each in a game, then that is 15 penalties or maybe 22 penalties in a game. If you give that many penalties away we won’t win our league.
‘When you leave rubbish on a bus and expect your team mate or your coach to pick it up, that says louder than words that you don’t care enough, it says that sub-standard is good enough, it says you are not taking responsibility.
‘Guys during this season there will be times when we are exhausted, there are times when we are losing games or when we get injured and we have to rehab back to fitness, there will be bad times but no matter what happens in all of those situations the small things matter. For the rest of this season for as long as we are a team pay attention to the details, be professional and care. Do this in rugby and in life and you will benefit I promise. If you don’t do it then I’m sorry but you won’t be a winner at anything you do.’
That was in July and at the end of that season in April we won the league to get back into the English Championship. What made the difference (as well as Mike Schmid) was that everyone in that squad did what they said they would do and everyone cared. By collectively picking up our standards we were greater as a team than the sum of our parts.
I believe that if you think about what you say and do what you say you will, then you are going to do well in life and in business.
By Colm Hannon, CEO at Hannon Digital and Founder of The Rugby Business Network