Humility. Not the kind of word that springs to mind when you think of hard-hitting rugby players. At least I thought so until I read a significant story that emerged from the 2015 Rugby World Cup. It featured Steve Hansen, the coach of the New Zealand All Blacks.
While Steve is a coach that brings out the best in his own players, he also has huge respect for every team they compete against. This respect sees him taking every opportunity to build positive relationships with other coaches and teams.
He has made it his habit to seek out the opposing coach after a game and share a beer with him, regardless of the outcome of the match. This value of humility, lived out by the coach, permeates the whole team and has led to a post-match protocol that includes inviting the opposing team to the All Blacks changing room after the game. These occasions are simply designed to build friendship and show respect; never to gloat or put down the other team.
Even after winning the World Cup final, many of the All Blacks could be seen offering generous consolation to the Australian team; bitter rivals during the game but competitors worthy of respect and kindness afterwards.
How refreshing to see this level of professional grace in an arena that is often characterised by mean-spiritedness and egocentric victory dances designed to shame the opposition.
Asked about this culture of humility within the All Blacks, Hansen said, “I don’t think it is driven by being liked. It is driven by … how we want to live.”
In this statement Hansen points to a high standard of conduct and motivation. I love it when I see humility, respect for others and friendship demonstrated in such a genuine and down to earth way. Imagine how different life would be if we all embraced these values to the point of saying, “That’s how I want to live.”