Go to where the other team isn't

Good morning,

It’s been another fantastic week here at Arch Graduates. We’ve assessed a new batch of awesome grad and we think we’ve found some of the next team we’ll bring into the business.

I was also lucky enough to attend a breakfast with Sir Clive Woodward. These two things are not unrelated.

Sir Clive – “I insist that everyone calls me Clive, except my children, who have to use the ‘sir’” – was, as you can imagine an awesome speaker. There are a few things about Sir Clive that make him quite so inspiring. Firstly his achievements, I mean, he won the world cup in one of England’s great sporting achievements. Secondly his honesty. It’s inescapable. He’s 100% straight with you, you know it from the minute he stands up before he even opens his mouth. Thirdly he’s smart. I mean “change the way rugby was coached forever” smart.

Today I’m going to tell you the two or three things that he said that resonated with me the most. Firstly he talked about talent. He talked about talent a lot and so do I. At Arch Graduates we’re on “the hunt for top talent” we’re “developing the best young talent in the country” we’re “helping the world's leading organisation develop talent into the next generation of digital leaders”. It’s actually quite hard to talk about what we do without using the world talent. Sir Clive’s view? Talent is the start, not the finish.

You can imagine my reaction to this! In some ways, this is the philosophy on which we’ve built Arch Graduates. We know that talent alone is not enough, it needs focus, discipline, skills, knowledge, experience, practice, confidence, belief etc. Talent is the foundations on which you build the house. Talent is the roll into which you put the filling. Talent is where it all starts, it’s nowhere near the end.

The second thing that resonated was one of the most important philosophies that he built the world cup winning team around. He asked every one of his players to become a “student of the game”. He wasn’t interested in working with players who weren’t interested in working on the game too. He talked about how culturally, in England, in particular, this is something that we’re quite poor at historically. He actually cited this as a reason that our football team is performing so poorly. He insisted that his player were always learning, always studying and always becoming more knowledgeable about the game of rugby. He put the premium on learning and improving which lead to this awesome culture of constantly striving for being better.

The final thing and in some ways it could seem a little flippant, but I think it might be the thing that I’ll take with me forever. He showed us a piece of software that he used in his coaching that played back a real game from above the only difference being that the players were all just little, coloured circles. Meaning you could see the game in a completely different way. During this demo he said to the audience, “the game of rugby is actually very simple, you just go where the other team isn’t”.

Go where the other team isn’t.

I feel like this is relevant to everyone, graduates, team members, leaders, the lot.

For graduates, trying to carve a career in this overpopulated, competitive and challenging world, think about how you can go where the other team isn’t. What do you have, or what can you learn that will mean you’re somewhere the other team isn’t.

For leaders, are you playing where the other teams are or aren’t? Can you get to where the other team isn’t?

It’s weird how sometimes the odd phrase just resonates, suddenly makes you see things in a different way. When you think about “your competitors” you might think about having to battle with them, that you’re fighting for the same turf, that one of you is going to lose. All of that is totally valid and there’s a place for it. But even in one of the most vicious and competitive sports around there are other ways of looking at it.

Just go where the other team isn’t.

Until next week