by Randall Corless.

Success is boring.

I’ve never thought about it that way, but I suppose in many respects it is. That repetitious – even mundane – activity which, practised over a lengthy period, builds expertise and drives consistency of performance.

The observation came from former Wallaby captain Nathan Sharpe, the special guest at our most recent “Marsh Tincknell Business Breakfast.”

Sharpe should know.  During his decorated Rugby career, he not only played more than 100 Test matches for his country, over 14 seasons, he played a remarkable 162 Super Rugby games – almost 30 more than anybody else in the history of the competition.

“Regardless of the field of endeavour, whether it’s Rugby, business or just some recreational pursuit, I don’t believe you can take short cuts.  Not if you want to be successful,” Sharpe said.

“I know a lot of people think anybody who plays professional sport must be gifted or at least naturally talented, but more often it boils down to the tedious repetition of practising and practising until the skill becomes second nature. And there’s nothing glamorous about that. It’s boring.”

Among the many other astute insights and sound pieces of advice Sharpe offered:

  • The importance of mentors. You can learn an enormous amount from observing and modelling the behaviour of successful people, and the good habits they’ve formed. At the other end of the spectrum,  you can also learn what not to do, and the behaviours that impede success.
  • Different people have different motivations.  As a leader, it’s important to identify and recognise those motivations. The trick is to alter your leadership style in order to get the best out of them – both individually and as a team. The end game is the collective pursuit of one common goal. Sharpe learned this from John Eales, a senior figure and wonderful sounding board when he first arrived on the representative Rugby scene.
  • Clearly defined boundaries and standards.  All successful teams have them.  Individuals who aren’t prepared to adhere to those standards shouldn’t be retained because at best they’re a distraction, at worst, they can undermine team  harmony and unity, and in turn impede performance.