I know this was supposed to be the follow up to Bitcoin, but this Tigers Tragic just couldn’t help himself…
Ok, so you know how I help thought leaders in their field launch successful training businesses..?
If anyone knows Richmond star Dusty Martin, tell him I’m willing to help him run executive leadership retreats pro bono.
It’s not so much that I’m excited by the product (though I could sell it like hot-cakes). It’s more than I just can’t stopped giggling at the thought of Dusty sitting down with the CEOs of BHP and Wesfarmers – fully inked-up with whatever we call that hair-cut of his.
“If someone gets in my way, I push em out the way.”
“Is that like a metaphor for being decisive in leadership positions?”
“Nah. I just literally push people.”
But I’m not here to take the piss out of Dusty. If ever there was a champion on the field, he’s it. And you can see that he is a sensitive and intelligent young man.
But one thing is for certain, success psychologists will be pouring over AFL Season 2017 for years. It has truly been a remarkable story.
And look, I can’t pretend to be unbiased here. I’m a Tigers Tragic. It’s where my roots are.
And by the time I was 17 I had witnessed 5 premiership wins. I always thought the mighty tigers would be mighty.
But then after that… nothing. Nothing for 37 years! Richmond’s poor form had started to become a bit of a joke. They’d become losers. You couldn’t get the stench off them.
And at the end of the 2016 season, when they finished 13th; yes, unlucky 13.
…So you could imagine my expectation going into season 17. Even a diehard fan like me wasn’t given them Buckleys of winning the flag in 2017.
No-one in the history of the game has been able to go from 13th spot to 1st in 12 months. In fact Richmond around the traps, had the nickname of “ninthmond”. What’s that mean? It’s the worst spot to finish on the ladder in the AFL competition. You might as well finish last. Those who know football, know what I’m talking about.
But the Tiger’s did it. And it’s nothing short of phenomenal.
So every executive program in the country will be watching this space closely. It’s one thing to take a team that’s doing well, and to nurture them to victory, just as its one thing to take a successful business and make it a great business.
But it’s an entirely different matter again to take a failing team or business and turn the whole show completely around.
If there’s a secret formula hidden in the Tigers’ story, you could sell it for a million bucks.
I don’t know what it is. There might not even be one.
But if I could take a stab it would be something about genuine greatness.
There was an article in The Age that was written by the Tigers’ psychologist. All teams have psychologists these days – nothing new there.
But what jumped out at me was that the Tigers were consciously working with vulnerability – with helping the players become vulnerable with each other:
Appreciation of vulnerability allowed the Tigers to develop authentic relationships, improve teamwork and strengthen commitment. Generally, men find it difficult to share and express emotion. There is often fear that expression of vulnerability may lead to experience of shame and exploitation.
The reality is that, within a group, it allows recognition of individual and shared experience, increased empathy (understanding and care for others) and self-validation. The results of Richmond's new practice of requiring each player to share personal stories to the rest of the playing group speak for themselves. According to Jack Riewoldt , sharing vulnerability “gave a real different perspective on life and footy, gave me greater connection with the players, the younger players”.
I’m reading this and thinking this is a revelation. This is nothing short of a revolution. The last time I heard someone talk about the power of masculine vulnerability I was naked around the campfire at the Shamanic Rainbow Warrior men’s retreat outside Byron Bay, just before the cactus juice kicked in.
Richmond was my stomping ground in the 80s. It was no place for the soft. And if you told me that the Richmond Tigers would one day have a dedicated vulnerability practice I would never have believed you.
But here we are in 2017, and the Tigers do have a dedicated vulnerability practice, and they’ve just had arguably the most successful season in AFL history.
Seriously. This is a watershed moment. Aussie culture will never be the same again.
And for me, I can see how powerful it would be, to have that kind of practice.
Because there is genuine toughness, and there is projected toughness.
Projected toughness is an act of story telling. It’s about saying, I’m as hard as nails so don’t mess with me.
But it’s bullsh!t. It’s just a story. It’s a piece of fiction that you’re investing a lot of energy in. It creates a façade that the real you hides behind.
In time the façade becomes a prison.
The Tigers worked at busting their players out of prison.
And this meant that they were free – free to respond to the moment. They played the footy that the game demanded of them, not the footy that their toughness narratives demanded of them.
And this opened the way for their genuine toughness to come through. Of course the boys are tough. You can’t make it in the modern game if you’re not. But they sit comfortably in it.
And it’s why, even with the neck tattoos and all that, Dusty Martin still comes off as friendly, even cuddly.
So I think this is a textbook lesson in coming into your true power – the power of who you truly are, not the power you’re pretending to be in your narratives.
And in the cultural touchstone of the AFL… I don’t think Aussie culture will ever be the same again.
That’s how I’m packaging my retreat anyway. BHP, Wesfarmers… waiting for your call.
Why did the Tigers win? Who do you have that you can be vulnerable with?