The greatest team on earth…
It wasn’t until I moved to New Zealand that I really got Rugby. Their national sport is more of a religion than a game. And in this religion the All Blacks are Gods. In a history spanning over 100 years, they are the most consistent and celebrated team in Rugby (and arguably any sport). And to be honest, for me, as a Scottish person, it was just nice to get involved in a team sport that didn’t follow with: “But at least they played well” (glory hunter).
But how do you become the best in the world? How do you stay the best in the world?
And more importantly … what does the greatest team that’s ever existed have in common with the All Blacks 😉
The bond of a family business
Aroha mai, aroha atu(Maori proverb: love received demands love returned
Growing up, weekends for me and my sisters often meant coming into the office. While our parents worked, we made crosswords on a typewriter. We put “mats” (a.k.a bits of foam) on the concrete floor and practised our gymnastics routines. Begged the receptionist to let us help with the filing. Played in skips. And built forts with boxes of files. I know what you’re thinking…none of this is up to strict health & safety codes. 90s baby. But despite this, a lot of my childhood memories revolve around Eagle Leisure.
Even though I didn’t realise it. Eveything was connected to Eagle Leisure. With two parents in the business, everything we had as a family depended on its success. There was no back-up. No second wage. If the business failed, our lives changed. Every holiday. Every dance class. The food on our plates. And the roof over our heads. The ability to pursue further education without worrying about where the funds would come from (actually, kudos to EL + the Scottish government for providing free further education). All roads lead back to Eagle Leisure.
It’s no surprise that for most family business’, it’s personal. It is more than work. It’s family. For me, Eagle Leisure is like an older sibling. Some days we’re the best of friends. Other days I want to lock it in a suitcase during a game of hide and seek (ps. my older sister legit did this to me once). But no matter how I feel on the surface, deep down I’ll always love and protect it. Becuase it’s part of the family. It’s what holds me here. I’m here for the past. And I’m here for the future.
People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it. And family businesses do it for love.
What the All Blacks and family business have in common?
A couple of months ago, my friend leant me Legacy by James Kerr. It’s about the All Blacks. How they became the best sports team in the world. And how they maintained that over 100 years.
A couple of pages in I put it down. This paragraph jumped out and grabbed me:
To become an All Black means becoming a steward of a legacy. Your role is to leave the Jersey in a better place. The humility, expectation and responsibility that this brings lifts their game. It makes them the best in the world.
There is no I in team. There is no room for egos.
Their monumental success goes beyond leadership or skill. It is far more fundamental.
Their excellence is a product of their culture. The ethos that underpins everything both on and off the field. Their ability to remove their individual wants and needs and drive towards a common goal. To honour the achievements of the greats that came before them. And act as a vessel for the success of future generations.
To create a legacy…
The All Blacks might not be a family. But that sounds a lot like a family business. You are the vessel in which the business continues. Your job is to build on what the previous generations have left you. And leave the future generations something more.
To create a legacy…
The future of a family business…
So what do the All Blacks and Eagle Leisure (or every family business) have in common?
I’m pretty sure Rugby isn’t it. I don’t want to downplay the skills of Eagle Leisure. But I think our chances of creating anything resembling a world-class rugby team are someone between zero and none.
We might not be the best in the world (although we’re pretty close).
We might not instil fear into the hearts of our competition with our reputation.
But as a family business, we create and carry a legacy. A legacy that was born before most people in the business. And that will hopefully live on long after we are gone. Our job is to take responsibility for holding it. For protecting it. And for ensuring Eagle leisure is around for the next generation.
What will your legacy be?