I was reminded of a story about the "All Blacks". As a coach, I used to think that the most important thing was to have my best players be my hardest workers. But now I realize that isn’t enough. Being a hard worker can still be a selfish pursuit.
No, the most important thing as a coach is to have a team that all ask “what can I give,” especially when it come to your captains, your upperclassmen, and your most talented athletes. You must teach them that the selfish attitude may once in a while lead to success, but the selfless attitude leads to excellence, celebrates the success of others, and makes you the type of athlete that EVERY COACH wants on his or her team.
The most successful sports team in the professional era is not the NY Yankees, or the Boston Celtics, or Real Madrid, but a team from a far less known sport. It is the New Zealand All Blacks in rugby, who have an astonishing 86% winning percentage and numerous championships to their name. In the outstanding book about the All Blacks called Legacy, author James Kerr discusses one of their core values that epitomizes the selfless attitude.It’s called “Sweep the Shed.”
You see the goal of every All Blacks player is to leave the national team shirt in a better place than when he got it. His goal is to contribute to the legacy by doing his part to grow the game and keep the team progressing every single day.
In order to do so, the players realize that you must remain humble, and that no one is too big or too famous to do the little things required each and every day to get better. You must eat right. You must sleep well. You must take care of yourself on and off the field. You must train hard. You must sacrifice your own goals for the greater good and a higher purpose.
You must sweep the shed.
After each match, played in front of 60,000 plus fans, in front of millions on TV, after the camera crews have left, and the coaches are done speaking, when the eyes of the world have turned elsewhere, there is still a locker room to be cleaned.
By the players!
That’s right, after each and every game the All Blacks leading players take turns sweeping the locker room of every last piece of grass, tape, and mud. In the words of Kerr: “Sweeping the sheds. Doing it properly. So no one else has to. Because no one looks after the All Blacks. The All Blacks look after themselves.”
They leave the locker room in a better place than they got it. They leave the shirt in a better place than they got it. They are not there to get. They are there to give.