Jonny Wilkinson Q&A – “What do you want from your team?”
EXCLUSIVE: Rugby icon Jonny Wilkinson is responsible for what was probably the most exciting moment in rugby history when he dropped the winning goal at the last minute of extra time in the 2003 World Cup final, giving England a dramatic win over Australia.
These days, Jonny Wilkinson has reinvented himself as a TV sports expert covering the Six Nations Championship and the Rugby World Cup for ITV and serving as a motivational speaker.
He also runs his own small business, starting the No. 1 Living brand in 2018 for fermented health drinks to share his passion for what Jonny Wilkinson calls “living food”. The company offers a range of canned kombucha beverages, health shots, and bottled kefir water.
Here, Jonny Wilkinson shares with Sophie Wheeldon lessons he learned about mental resilience, how to be a team leader and why it’s important to stay present.
How do you build up mental resilience and stay mentally fit?
The idea of resilience belongs to a certain fixed identity that says: “This is me, these are my dreams. These things are right and these things are wrong. That is success and that is failure.
If something pushes me back, I have to get up again and fight for what I originally decided.
It takes a certain amount of persistence to get back out there and express yourself. But the version of resilience I have is very different as my understanding of who I am is constantly changing.
Your self-esteem, your potential and your being cannot be influenced by anything outside. It’s on another level. If you are able to touch that space, then you can be creative with who you are.
So when you face challenges, you can adapt, recreate, and reinvent who you are to come back brand new and fresh.
This idea of resilience, the idea of becoming completely new with the same knowledge you had before, allows you to approach challenges with both childlike passion and the experience of an older person.
“I’ve spent my younger career believing that all I knew was the answer.”
What was your specific leadership style as a former England captain and what advice would you give to others looking to improve their own management strategy?
Start with the simple question, “What would you like your team to do?” – individually and together.
What would you like to start from each of these players individually? And the answer is, I want you to be at your best.
The second question is, do you know what their best are? If your answer is yes, then your leadership is gone because if you know someone else’s potential, you have already set a limit for them.
So the second answer should be: “Of course not, their potential is unknown.” And from this you have designed your tour for you. Your choice is, “Will I try to control these guys or will I allow them to be who they can be?”
I spent my younger career when I was truly attached to self-importance and believed that all I knew was the answer. In order for me to connect with someone, they had to be exactly what I wanted them to be, so that I could give them time. And in the end I didn’t just control people verbally, but when people approached me, how they behaved, how they stood, how they talked to me – they had to be something they weren’t.
At the end of my career I realized that if I want to get the best out of these players, I need them to be all they can. And I don’t know what it is, so I have to let it happen.
The only way to let this happen is to look at myself. Because when I think I know what my potential is and I’m at the end of this journey, I’ll start controlling everyone else.
Leadership has nothing to do with others. The moment people try to inspire one another, life goes terribly wrong. The moment people start to inspire themselves, this leads everyone around them. Therefore, follow your own passions and reveal the limitless and limitless experience of who you are.
In this new space you encounter there is space for everyone around you to live and be whatever they can be. Then you get a real team.
How do you define “pressure”?
Pressure is not inherent in the world – there is no pressure, it is not a real thing.
If I get what I want it will be amazing, but if I don’t then it will be fine too. So where’s the pressure?
When you think, “What will people think of me if I lose this?” or “I let people down”, there is pressure. It exists in these ideas; it doesn’t exist in the world.
Exploring these ideas will enable you to tell the difference between anticipation and the beauty of nervousness, the feeling of really living, and the feeling of failure.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice early in your career, what would it be?
No advice would have really touched me at this point. I was so closed. I had to experience everything that I experienced as I experienced it.
So I wouldn’t want to turn away from this path, but if I were there giving myself advice, I would remind myself that you are perfect as you are and everything is fine.
I would ask myself, “Are you interested in winning or are you interested in your potential because you have won things and are still not happy?” Because at the end of your career you will look back and ask yourself: “Did I live well? You did things but did it make you happy? Will it ever make you happy ‘
Those moments when you were out in the field feeling completely one, when your potential is expressing, and that moment when I said, “Is that enough?”, You could reach out to me and say, “It is more.” than enough ‘.
I’d say, “What do you care?” Because the beauty of it is that when you reach your potential, you give yourself the best chance of winning so that you can have both.
There are many examples of people who have everything they wanted and it is never enough. Do you exercise because you think there will be a pot of joy in the end, or do you exercise for the love of exercise?
If you are interested in your potential, your potential is right here and now. If you look elsewhere you won’t find it. “
Jonny Wilkinson can be booked through The Motivational Speakers Agency
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