“Put the person on either side of you before yourself and play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back. It is about making the people next to you feel safer and your willingness to sacrifice yourself for your mate. That is what a leader does and that is a primary ingredient to winning a premiership, regardless of the sporting code.”
That was our mantra, and the environment we were trying to create.
Four weeks ago, I had the pleasure of taking the St George Illawarra Dragons for their 2017 pre season training camp, aptly entitled, Operation Dragon.
What myself and my team witnessed over that 72 hour period was nothing short of inspiring, and that is with close to 20 years of experience working with professional sporting organisations.
Our plan consisted of breaking the players down physically and mentally with minimal sleep and nothing to eat except for a few baked beans and a slice of bread. Divided into sections of 11-12 players, they were to carry over 300kg in weight between them, which included tractor tyres, stretchers, sandbags, battle ropes, rifles and water jerries, just to name a few. No watches, phones, games, technology or distractions of any description were allowed. In order to build trust, which is a vital ingredient for any team to succeed, you need to improve relationships, something that our fast paced technological world is driving us away from.
This camp was designed to be primitive and not only take the players outside of their comfort zones, but to also improve their leadership capabilities and relationships and understanding of each other.
– Tariq Sims – St George Illawarra Dragons –
When we develop this level of trust and our peers and leaders make us feel safe and we are supported by each other, we focus on our roles and how we can offer greater value to the team; or produce a superior performance rather than spending valuable time and mental energy covering our arses and indulging in gossip which breeds negativity.
I knew I was dealing with a special group.
A group that could overcome adversity and rely on each other during the immense pressure.
Question is, can they do that on the football field, throughout the season when their backs are against the wall and they are behind on the scoreboard and playing against quality opposition?
No one has the ability to see around corners and only time will tell if they can draw on this camaraderie and altruistic mindset when it really counts the most.
If they pull together like they did during the camp, these St George Illawarra Dragons will be a definite force during the 2017 NRL season. Watch this space!
It is time to create more leaders, not followers, to put pride back into the company and most importantly, to set an example with every act of integrity, compassion, courage, or sacrifice that enriched, empowered, or encouraged others to emulate your example.
If you are interested in a short video of the camp that the club has put together, please feel free to click on the link below.