Archive for April, 2015

The Incredible Schalk. Everybody loves a good come-back story.

Posted on: April 23rd, 2015 by Rob Opie No Comments

Winning is not something that you are given in life. Winning is something you take in life.

There is something about sport. It dramatizes life. It consumes our human emotions. It speeds up learning. It speeds up winning and losing – the successes are instant, the failures dramatic. And transparent for all to see. It represents a microcosm of life, but best of all are the heroic comeback stories of our sporting heroes.

Cast your mind back to Andre Agassi who set the tennis world alight. From World Number One in 1996, he found himself ranked 141 in 1997. His game plan crammed full of the wrong stuff ! One year later he regained the number one world ranking . Agassi credits the wise mentorship words of Nelson Mandela – for inspiring his come back to become the oldest person to ever hold the World Number One ranking – earning him the nick-name  of ‘the comeback kid’

Andre, be careful with your decisions, Andre, be careful with your words, Andre, be careful with your relationships. Andre, we must all live our lives carefully.’ Nelson Mandela. 1997.

Such stories abound, but fast forward to another legend of sport, Schalk Burger. Schalk has always had a game plan crammed full of the right stuff – revered and admired by his peers and opposition – no matter at which ground he plays. But, he participates in a game where injuries are part and parcel !

Schalk’s story is truly remarkable – having come back from a serious, potentially career ending neck injury to be part of Jake White’s World Cup winning team in 2007. Jake stated that Schalk had the work rate of three players. Game after game he would put his body on the line and give it his all. Surely he was in line to take over the Bok captaincy from John Smit, but sadly it was a bout of injuries, starting with a knee injury in 2012 that was to really test his mettle – and his resolve. A back scan revealed a cyst on his spine which needed to be drained. It was during the draining operation that Schalk contracted a hospital bug which led to bacterial meningitis placing him in isolation for 5 days. Meningitis is a serious illness and Schalk was engaged in his fiercest battle yet – the battle for his life.

Most people believed that this time around , it was the end of the road for the Springbok legend, but Schalk was not having anything of it. Doctors and specialists had told him he would never play rugby again. Burger refused to take that verdict to heart. Instead, he took it as a challenge. He climbed straight back on the horse , and remarkably found his way back into Heyneke Meyer’s Bok squad. Coming off the bench at his home ground Newlands, he inspired the Boks to a second half driven victory over the Wallabies – after a lack luster first half team performance. Six months later he delivered a ‘man of the match’ performance at Twickenham. The Incredible Schalk was back, and  now he’s  on the verge of being part of the Bok’s 2015 World Cup run for glory. It will be the forth World Cup for the 32 year old since making his debut as a young man in 2003 in Australia.

Congratulations must go to Schalk !

Every sports loving South African knows that his recognition at the recent Laureus  Sports Awards was not just about his come- back story, but more about his human greatness. From rugby great to human great, Schalk plays the game right and he lives life right! A great South African !

Before I got injured and ill rugby played a massive part in what I was and what I did. It dominated life. After that life got put into perspective for me. I wasn’t an emotional guy beforehand but now I do get quite emotional about the sentimental side of things. Rugby is a much smaller part of my life.

See you at World Cup 2015 Schalk! You’ve made so many magic moments. Long may they continue as it’s the kind of spirit that you display – which will help the Boks bring it home !

 

 

* Brand Strategist, Rob Opie is the founder of a Strategic Brand Consultancy: The Game Plan , a Key Note Speaker, Author and Game Changer to organizational teams, sports teams and individuals.

Rob’s passion and purpose is to help elevate brands from good to great to greater – inspiring  ‘the next level’ of individual and team growth –  and contribution ! His ground breaking ‘The Game Plan Method’, which embraces potent game changing methodologies – and draws on insight and inspiration derived from the great champions of business, sport and life, is currently sweeping across South Africa, creating and delivering on extraordinary stories of success and significance.

Jordan Spieth. Smelling the azaleas. Drinking the scene. Definitely in touch at 21 .

Posted on: April 14th, 2015 by Rob Opie No Comments

There was something special about Jordan’s Spieth’s maiden major victory at Augusta this a past weekend. And it was not just that he had won The Masters at age 21 .

He had announced himself as the world’s next superstar by joining an elite group of players that includes Palmer , Nicklaus and Floyd – those that have won The Masters wire to wire.

And at the tender age of 21!

 

Every  pro golfer knows that to win “wire to wire” takes some metal –  and some doing !

In golf it’s never easy to sleep on a lead knowing that the pack will come chasing you down . In a way , holding a lead in golf is similar to ‘the peloton’ hunting one down in road cycling , which makes Spieth’s  ‘wire to wire ‘ a small defining moment for Rory McIlroy .

Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and top-ranked Rory McIlroy, who have a combined 24 major championships, all tried, but no one could catch the 21-year-old Spieth at the Masters on Sunday. McIlroy’s World Number One ranking is about to be contested and he knows it.A new golfing era of young guns has begun- McIlroy 25 , Spieth 21 ,Fowler 25 ,Day27 and Matsuyame just 23 . A golfing era which will be dominated by the new young players all in their 20’s.

No longer will Rory be able to cruise to victory like he did in Dubai earlier this year by playing well within himself. Now, it’s all out golf. And that is great for golf!

But there is something more to Spieth that says that he will be the one to hold the world number one ranking shortly. His talent is undoubted, but it’s his demeanor which is different .His caddie Michael Greller who knows him best says this of him:

For Jordan, I don’t think winning The Masters is his ultimate goal. It’s nice feather in his cap, but knowing Jordan, how grounded and how humble he is, I think he’s going to savour it, but it’s not the ultimate.’

At 21 Spieth is obviously mature way beyond his years and can see the bigger picture of the game. The way he interacts with his young fans, as shown in the picture above, says something. It’s not all about golf. It’s about:

Entertaining, Educating, and Enriching the lives of others – through his innate talent.

It’s stark contrast to Tiger who brushes past his young fans  who stretch out a hand , just to  touch their hero.

Many sports stars get stuck in the human trap of believing it’s all about winning – some do it against all odds, and some do it at all cost. They end up chasing the outcome. They forget the journey. Spieth seems different, and it  looks like he has got the recipe for sustained success and significance just right – the recipe for greatness.

As long as he sees  The Masters  as  ‘along the way’ and not  ‘in the way’ , he ‘ll continue  to stack all the odds firmly  in his  favour  –  a  master- class  in golf and life.

Nike’s lastest video captures it best .

 

Greatness is not all about winning! It’s about the difference one makes in other’s lives.

Jordan is such a gentleman. He’s someone who remembers those who have helped him along the way  :  Clair Peterson, the tournament director for the John Deere Classic,

Jordan Spieth has won over people with his ridiculous talent, his passion, his purpose and his poise – but most of all his grounded personality. He’s in touch, he’s smelling the azaleas and he’s drinking the scene.

A new era of young guns has arrived.

And that’s great for the game.


 

* Brand Strategist, Rob Opie is the founder of a Strategic Brand Consultancy: The Game Plan , a Key Note Speaker, Author and Game Changer to organizational teams, sports teams and individuals.

Rob’s passion and purpose is to help elevate brands from good to great to greater – inspiring  ‘the next level’ of individual and team growth –  and contribution ! His ground breaking ‘The Game Plan Method’, which embraces potent game changing methodologies – and draws on insight and inspiration derived from the great champions of business, sport and life, is currently sweeping across South Africa, creating and delivering on extraordinary stories of success and significance.

Cricket World Cup 2015. Insights and inspiration for Heyneke’s run for glory.

Posted on: April 5th, 2015 by Rob Opie No Comments

Cricket World Cup 2015 has come and gone. It produced many memorable moments and delivered much insight and inspiration .New talent emerged, glittering careers came to an end, the ordinary were banished, the brave rewarded, characters built, and game changers arrived.

In a World Cup where the batsman dominated, it was ironic that it was the Australian bowling attack which won it for them in the final.

But , probably the most impact was felt in another arena of the game – the ‘game changing’ one of the sophisticated technological analysis of one’s opponents game plan – the strengths and weaknesses of the team – and the individual players within the team .Those who failed to ‘starve the strengths’ and ‘work the weaknesses’ of their opponents simply failed – they got knocked out early .

Game changers like Chris Gayle ,David Warner , Brendon McCullum , AB De Villiers and others, can simply ‘take the game away’ from you.

Cricketers are well aware of what is referred to as

  the Second Season Syndrome ‘ – when your opponents work you out – when they systematically plan and execute against your weaknesses .

Well, a player’s only true defense is to become what can be classed as ‘the total package’ – playing to one’s own strengths – while eliminating all possible weaknesses . AB de Villiers is certainly such a player, and this is why he is consistently rated as the number one batsman in the world .Opponents fail to find weaknesses which they can execute against. But, it’s only a few select players who are capable of moving though the developmental phases from good to great to greater – and then on to genius.

For coaches,  it’s  become critical to  leverage off  the back of  these  ‘ total package’ players. They are the  ‘game changers ‘– the ones that can dominate opposition, and strangle their hopes of executing and optimizing their own game plans. And in so doing  inspire and lift  their own team to the next level of performance .

Let’s fast forward to Rugby World Cup ‘15 , and why the Springboks need to take heed of Cricket World Cup 2015.The Boks are certainly blessed with many such ‘ game changers ‘ , but will they get the combinations right ? Let’s just take a look at the backline combinations . Here the Boks possess three such players who can be classed as ‘the total package’ – game changers who can set the rugby world alight.

Game Changer Number One: Fourie du Preez.

As with All Blacks Richie McCaw and Dan Carter , this will be Fourie du Preez’s World Cup swansong – he’s certainly geared up to make a ’World Cup  impact’ with planned rest and careful conditioning programmes , but most of all he’s recognized by all his opponents – as ‘the total package’ at scrumhalf .He has an uncanny ability to read the game – and ‘take the game away’ from any opposition .

Game Changer Number Two: Handre Pollard.

The ‘Pollard Package’ is critical to the Bok’s success. Since his superb showing at the junior Rugby World Cup, he’s seen by the All Blacks as one of their biggest threats. He has the full package of skills, and will surely  go on to become one of the greatest Bok fly halves. And he’s getting better and better as he goes – having already helped to engineer an All Black defeat at Ellis Park last year.

Game Changer Number Three. Frans Steyn

Ok, here’s a real game changer, and one that is certain to create some debate, even controversy.

But that’s what game- changing is all about !

Frans Steyn is a player who I believe is ‘the total package’ – a player who has talent to burn. Yet, not many coaches have been able to unlock and unleash his true rugby playing genius. That’s because they keep playing him in the wrong position / the wrong combination , and his current four week ban by Sanzar has again placed him in a tight corner. When things are not working out, it’s wise to implement what’s called a R.T.S – a Radical Tactical Shift. Simply stop playing him in the high contact position of inside center. Play him in his preferred position at fullback. This is where his genius will come to the fore. And allow him to contribute optimally to the team .

Yes , Willie le Roux has played some exhilarating ,enthralling and some superb rugby for the Boks , but he will never be the ‘the full package ‘. He does not possess the booming boot and the physical presence that Frans Steyn can present at fullback – especially when it comes to playing rugby in northern hemisphere conditions .

In sport it’s often wise to pick one’s side ‘from inside the opposition camp’. Pick the players who your rivals would least choose to play against ! If Dan Carter where to be openly asked who he would least like to face up to at fullback – it would likely be Frans Steyn. That’s because Steyn’s ‘total package game’ can hurt opponents in many ways from the back – least of which is to post errant clearance kicks between your own poles.

Many  will naturally question Steyn’s  current contribution . Yes, he was late on Cheslin Colbe, but most players do not even lay a hand on the lightning fast Colbe. This means Steyn has exceptional speed for a big man. Playing Steyn in his optimal and preferred position will enable him to make the right decisions. And he will have Jean de Villiers – a great leader and a great captain in support – who has the ability to bring out the best in his team, and the individual players.

Pollard,  Steyn and the gifted Lambie in any squad – a power combo !

The Total Package’  players impact by inspiring and igniting teams to ‘the next level at World Cups’. We are blessed to have many such players – game changers par excellance, in our  backs and  our  forwards .With a great coach , a great captain, the right selection of youth and experience , the right combinations, and that never say die ‘Bok Gees’ , the boys will be bringing it home this year .


 

 

Brand Strategist, Rob Opie is the founder of a Strategic Brand Consultancy: The Game Plan , a Key Note Speaker, Author and Game Changer to organizational teams, sports teams and individuals.Rob’s passion and purpose is to help elevate brands from good to great to greater – inspiring ‘the next level’ of individual and team growth – and contribution !

His ground breaking ‘The Game Plan Method’, which embraces potent game changing methodologies derived from the great champions of business, sport and life,is currently sweeping across South Africa, creating and delivering on extraordinary stories of success and significance

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