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                                         Believing in Miracles
Good afternoon dear reader & welcome to my world again this week. I am a little later again than my typical weekly issue, & for an extremely splendid reason. I want you to be able to celebrate with me, rather than listen to my speculation before the event…

Everywhere I have been today, most people are talking about the All Black loss. My good wife posted the following on FB: He slept thru most of it. Worn out by the excitement of the Mako win. So dear reader, I would like to share with you today, as the #1 Mako fan, some thoughts on how this team of fellows reached the heights many only aspire to, especially given the powers in charge wanted to dispense with this most recent union of Nelson & Marlborough a few years back.

The story of Tasman Mako Team & the pursuit to one of the highest accolades in New Zealand sport is in my view one of the greatest Cinderella stories in all of sports history in this country.  But yesterday was far more than just a great sporting event. It is also a great case study in what makes a special team.  This week, having been a supporter since 2006 inception, I thought we should share the insights about why this team so special, & perhaps, also assistance for building other teams.

Firstly, to me, the phrase ‘mentally tough’ is about self-leadership. No team is stronger than the individuals who make up the team. It is about showing up every day with a mindset to deliver your best.  It is not about taking the easy way, but rather taking the best way; the way leading to accomplishing the goal.  Mental toughness is about “owning your stuff” & not being a victim. It means not be a whiner or complainer, but rather being a problem solver. 

Secondly, all great teams are crystal clear about their objective & are thus goal orientated. They know what the “win” is & they align their efforts & energies to accomplish the goal before them. The pursuit of a winning trophy & medals is a very clear & tangible goal.

Thirdly, these rugby players came from all different walks of life, they “came together”. They became a true team.  They were not just “on” a team, they “became” a team. This means authentically caring about the other players on the team & taking the time to enter into relationship with them. They had a sense of community transcending the goal they were trying to accomplish. When we think about building great teams, culture & values, relationship & a sense of community are crucial.  It cannot just be about results, it also has to be about relationship.

Fourth, not surprisingly, there was an incredible commitment to a hard work ethic & sacrifice. You do not half-heartedly stroll into greatness. Representing your province & playing for top honours is an incredible honor & worthy of your very best. How much more should this be true for all of us? I have often noted those making lofty statements & I wonder if they think to really take the time to reflect & ask themselves if this is really believable.  Do the actions & passion & work ethic reflect someone who deep down believes what they do in their world really matters?

Finally, a definition of resiliency is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties. Great teams do not give up. When they get knocked down, they pick themselves up, dust themselves off, & get right back to work. They learn from their mistakes & they get better. They have a strong spirit of endurance & perseverance.  

Doing business with a team can often be messy. We are in a battle. There will be times when there is lack of clarity & of communication.  There will be seasons of chaos & dysfunction. You will be let down by people & trust will be breached. It just comes with the territory. To be a great team you must develop a thick skin & a never give up attitude.  

It is pretty easy to read an article & gain new insights about teams.  And it is fairly easy to sit with your team & discuss this stuff.  The real challenge is take the risk to start implementing & living this out.  Building a great team is not easy… it never has been.  But it is not an overstatement to say your impact hangs in the balance.  

I leave you to ponder a famous quote from Herb Brooks, the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team Coach … “Risk something or forever sit with your dreams.” This year we attended ten of the twelve Mako winning games around the country. My comments today are based on a team who I feel epitomize the above attributes, but also one I feel extremely privileged to be part of, in my small world from the side lines. FINZ UP boys, thankQ for the privilege, the pleasures, & the lessons.  
Thank you for taking the time to be with me once again. I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson. With my best wishes for another week… I look forward to being with you all again soon.

Kenn Butler
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