What can we learn from Wayne Bennett?

Last week, my team and I attended our “KickStart 2024” conference in which Wayne Bennett was the special guest speaker.

For anyone who doesn’t know who Wayne Bennett is, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in the history of rugby league and currently holds the position of head coach for the Dolphins NRL team.

Here is my takeaway from his straight-shooting, no-nonsense discussion and his approach to life.

Firstly, in Wayne’s words, the guy we saw was not the guy you see on the TV, there are two Waynes. He is a very humble man who doesn’t like the public limelight or public scrutiny, and he is an introvert meaning he certainly likes to have a good time, he just doesn’t show it.

This also means that it hasn’t worried him too much in his life that he isn’t showing happiness, because his happiness is on the inside.  Wayne doesn’t like to be recognized but also doesn’t like to be rude to people.

Wayne started by telling a couple of funny stories of times when he had been recognized in public. One man asked if he was Wayne Bennett the Knight’s coach, to which Wayne replied “No, I’m not.” The man persisted saying he looks like him, but then agreed he couldn’t be Wayne Bennett because “you’re a lot better looking than he is!”  Wayne certainly has a quick wit and good sense of humour.

He explained the basic truth in life is that nothing stays the same; you are either getting better or worse.  You are the one making deliberate choices about yourself, where you are going and your career.

At 74, he has learnt that you are never too old if you can still dream, you are never too old if you are flexible enough to change, and you are never too old if you don’t know it all.

No one tells you more lies than you tell yourself.

We try to justify things, we make up stories, we complaign about others, and we ignore issues, but we have an opportunity to be honest with ourselves.

Ask yourself, are you flexible enough to change, do you know it all and can you still dream.

Age is not the issue; the issue is you, what role you want to play and where you want to go.

Do you live ABOVE the line or BELOW the line?

If you want to be a team member you have to make sacrifices. Team is about sacrifice. You may be selfish and that’s ok, but you can never be the team member that you want to be because you can’t give of yourself. Great teams sacrifice and make sacrifices for each other.

So, where do you live – about the line or below the line?

Above the line is ownership and responsibility for yourself and your actions.
Below the line is excuses, blame and justification. The minority of people live above the line.

Think about your last 24 hours…have you blamed, have you justified, have you made excuses? What have you owned, what have you taken responsibility for?

Your greatest challenge every day is YOU! There is one person you have to like and one person you have to trust…and that is YOU.

It doesn’t matter what others think of you. Why? Because you have to live with yourself. You can do whatever you want, but you have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror, and you have to get through life with yourself every day.

So why wouldn’t you make yourself, the best possible you? You owe it to yourself to be happy, to be someone who can be trusted, to be someone who has a good work ethic, to be someone who is part of a team and prepared to make sacrifices.

After being in teams all his life, it is the most gratifying thing he does and he loves being part of a team. But he doesn’t just want to be making up the numbers, he wants to be a valuable part of the team. This all comes down to your choices.

We live in an amazing country where we have the right to make our own choices, but we have to own those choices and live above the line. It’s not someone else’s fault when things go wrong, there is no one to blame but yourself.

Are you making promises or commitments?

A promise you make to yourself is another lie, but a commitment means there is no fallback, you either do it or you don’t. When you commit to be your best, you will be absolutely amazed at what you can achieve.

How to be an effective team and/or member of a team.

  1. Care – teams look after each other and care about each other. Everybody in the team is important and feels valued. Care is a commitment.
  2. Don’t be late – it’s disrespectful and tells everyone else in the team that you think you are better than them. We all have commitments, but by being late you are telling everyone that your commitment is more important than theirs.
  3. Know your role – you have a job, know your role and just do your job. Don’t do other people’s jobs because you have been employed to do your job.
  4. Be co-operative – you don’t have to be best friends but you have to co-operate in the workplace and teach yourself to be pleasant to everyone.
  5. Have strong moral courage – moral courage is the ability to make the decision to stand on something you believe in that is not popular with everyone else. If you can’t do this, don’t complain and don’t put other people down. Address the problem directly or leave.
  6. Be accountable – take ownership of yourself and your choices, don’t blame others for your choices or your actions.
  7. Be proud – are you proud of your logo and who you work for? If not, then why not and what are you going to do to change it? If you can’t or don’t want to change it, then leave.
  8. Treat everyone with respect and equality – don’t do anything in a team that will divide you. If one person get something, everybody gets that thing. No one is more important than another, and no one is irreplaceable.

As you can see, it was a powerful and thought provoking talk, and I hope you also found something useful from Wayne’s words…I most certainly did.

It was an excellent day in which we made ourselves better so we can serve you better!

Remember, if you need any help or advice, I am just a phone call away.

All the best, Simon Salm

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