Michael Lynagh on Being a Team Player
This is a fantastic conversation with Michael Lynagh on being a team player, and he should know. Representing Australia in Rugby, Michael knows what it takes to reach the top and to be seen as one of the best at what you do. He knows what it is like to be part of a World Cup Winning Team. He also knows that there is a lot more to it than just natural ability. Whether it is in sports, business, the arts and entertainment, many people have natural ability that will get them so far. Michael shares how he focused on making sure that he didn’t waste his and got to perform at the highest level.
In this conversation, Michael shares how he loved all sports and had natural ability in many of them. Growing up in Brisbane Australia, his first love was cricket and he followed in the footsteps of the great Sir Donald Bradman by practicing relentlessly. He tried putting a ball in one of his mothers stocking and hanging it from the washing line to work on his batting. He strapped a brick to the back of his bat to strengthen the muscles in his forearms. Hours and hours of practice.
The turning point was rugby tour of the UK in the British winter, Australian summer, that meant that his time was spent playing rugby and not cricket. Of course this was rugbys gain, but who knows how Australian cricket might have benefitted if this hadn’t happened.
Michael applied the same practice principles to his rugby. As the teams’ kicker, he knew that the UK in the winter could be pretty wet, so in preparation, whenever it rained in his hometown Brisbane, he would head off down the park with a heavy leather rugby ball to kick in the poor conditions. This approach would become a mainstay of his career.
It would be easy to assume that when he broke into the Queensland and Australian teams at a young age that he could have thought that he had made it. He could have been full of confidence and feel that he was in his rightful place. Michael shares that he questioned himself and whether he was good enough, whether he deserved to be there.
He knew that his role was to make decisions and direct the play, but he was surrounded by senior players and wasn’t sure that he had the right to tell them what to do. The thing was, this was exactly what they were expecting of him. It was only when Andrew Slack told him that, not only was he good enough, but that he (prophetically) believed he would go on to be an all time great, that he really stepped into his role as a playmaker.
Working on his mindset and mental preparation was a big part of Michael’s career. In this conversation you can hear as he shares the story of learning how to hit the ‘slow motion’ button when preparing to kick, and the benefits it would bring. In fact it didn’t just bring benefits to him, as he shared the advice with a top golf pro, who also went on to use it quite successfully.
Michael had a stellar career, representing the Australia Wallabies from 1984 to 1995, was capped 72 times and was captain from 1993 to 1995. He was also the world point scoring record holder when he retired with 911 points. Michael was member of the 1984 Grand Slam winning team that toured the UK and was vice captain when Australia won the World Cup in 1991.
Like a previous guest on the infinite pie thinking podcast and England rugby player Leon Lloyd, Michael is focused on business.
Now the Managing Director of Dow Jones EMEA, Michael can apply many of the core values and behaviours he developed as an elite sports person to the corporate world.
You can hear throughout this conversation that whether it is sports, business, father or friend, Michael Lynagh focuses on being a team player. He is all about helping those around him perform better. Maybe that is something that we could all practice a little more.
If you want to know more about Michael Lynagh, you can read his remarkable book “Blindsided” or follow him –
instagram – @michael_lynagh
Twitter – @lynaghmichael
LinkedIn – Michael Lynagh
Take a listen to the full conversation and let me know what you think.
Full Transcript of Michael Lynagh on Being a Team Player on the infinite pie thinking podcast with Al Fawcet
Michael Lynagh 00:02
Everything happened really quickly for me on the sporting field, it really did. I basically left school and that was it, I was into the Queensland senior rugby team in Australia the following year. So there wasn’t a lot of time to think about stuff. But I think that grounding that I had at school where, you know, you’ve got talent, yes, you’ve got talent, but you’ve got to use it and not, not wasted and work hard at it. And I you know, one of the things, I could have worked a lot harder with at my talent, but natural talent got to me to a lot of places, but I didn’t waste it, that was the main thing.
Al Fawcett 00:36
Hi, I’m Al Fawcett and this is infinite pie thinking. Now, I just want to start by saying a quick thanks for joining me each week, as I get to speak with some remarkable people who share their stories and their perspective on the impact that mindset and thinking has on their performance. It’s been incredible to hear them talk about leadership, teamwork and culture amongst other things and their experiences of it. It’s also incredible to hear from you and what you think about the conversations. So imagine what it feels like to get the best of both worlds when one of my previous guests took the time to leave a rating review on Apple podcasts. Jon Dutton is the CEO of the Rugby League World Cup 2021 and he appeared on episode eight of infinite pie thinking and he took the time to write, learning for life. I’ve been fortunate enough to appear on a podcast with Al. His brilliant questions definitely got the best out of me and also gave me a 360 degree opportunity to learn as well as contributing knowledge sharing. The guests that Al has featured allow real life insight into leadership and culture from some brilliant minds. The podcast covers a diverse range of topics, and always provides me with the chance to learn in a fun and enjoyable way. Thanks, Jon, it’s great. If you haven’t heard my conversation with Jon, make sure you check it out. And of course, if you have a minute or two, it’d be great if you could leave us some feedback as well. Right, let’s focus on today’s conversation because it’s another great one. Michael Lynagh is an Aussie rugby legend. Michael has captained his country, was a member of the Grand Slam winning team, he’s a World Cup winner, and at the time of his retirement, was a world point scoring record holder. Now it could go on listing his accolades and achievements, but this intro will actually end up longer than the conversation. Playing at a time before rugby was a full time career choice, Michael will share how he applied himself to practice, but not necessarily just in rugby. Now Michael is the MD of Dow Jones Corporate EMEA, and we discuss how the lessons learned from his time at elite levels of sport have been applied to business. Michael is an incredibly humble guy and it was an absolute pleasure to chat with him. So take a listen and let me know what you think.
Al Fawcett 02:40
So Michael, thanks ever so much for joining me on infinite pie thinking today.
Michael Lynagh 02:44
Thanks, Alan. Good to be here with you, look forward to the chat.
Al Fawcett 02:47
I mean and there’s a lot of stuff that obviously we can talk about, because you’ve had, well I suppose you could say you’ve had a number of successful careers. So I want to sort of take you back to the start really, and I mean, really back to start and understand when somebody becomes successful and does very well and in one career, let alone a number. It can often come from some core values, some core ways of thinking and that you bring on through, so where would you say that you initially established those core values that have helped you to the success that you’ve achieved over the years?
Michael Lynagh 03:23
Oh, gosh, I guess you know, everybody’s gonna go back to look at their childhood and, and you know, how you’re brought up and and how that was established. I guess, you know, my parents were and still are very supportive of anything that I wanted to give a go at. I grew up on the most part of it on the Gold Coast in Queensland and then up into Brisbane. So I was born in Brisbane down to the Gold Coast, then back up to Brisbane and did my sort of senior schooling while I was in Brisbane. But you know, it ranged from back in the early days down the Gold Coast to playing cricket and football or soccer that is sorry, and rugby league at school and, and surfing, surfing has always been a very big part of my life. And as you know, surfing sort of in Australia is best early in the morning. So I was always begging my parents to take me down to Burley or Kirra, we lived at Southport so that was a bit of a drive. And you know, 5:30 in the morning, I’d be knocking on the door saying, come on, let’s go. I guess so that supportive network that encouraged me to to give things a go. And nothing’s out of bounds, I guess in terms of having, trying something. And I think my parents were very good at introducing me to a whole range of very different things, including, you know, working. They always wanted me to work harder at school, but, you know, working at school was important as well. And so I think that was something, and I know now as a parent, where we’re very keen as parents to, as our kids grew up to introduce them to as many different activities as possible and they find their way but to, to not say no to them and try and guide them to trying a whole lot of different things. You know they, they all loved rugby, and cricket and football and still do and all those sort of things. But just trying, I guess, to give encouragement, enthusiasm and support, which is what I got from my parents, I guess. And then to leaving school, I guess that carried over, I went to University and everything happened really quickly for me on the sporting field, it really did. I basically left school and that was it. I was into the Queensland senior rugby team in Australia the following year. So there wasn’t a lot of time to think about stuff. But I, so I think that grounding that I had at school where, you know, you’ve got talent, yes, you’ve got talent, but you’ve got to use it and not not waste it and work hard at it. And I, you know, one of the things that I could have worked a lot harder with my talent, but natural talent got me to a lot of places, but I didn’t waste it. That was the main thing.
Al Fawcett 06:09
That’s a really interesting one, isn’t it? Because I’ve heard people talk about being goal and outcome focused, but most successful people talk about the process, one, enjoy the process, but focus on the process and the results and the outcomes will start to take care of themselves. But as you said there, there are a lot of gifted people with talent. And there are a lot of people who don’t have talent, but work really hard. And then when you’ve got the talent, it’s not just taking it for granted, because it’ll only take you so far, that work ethic, making the most of it has to be a part of it. So, were you self disciplined? I mean, you’ve said about the fact that you could have worked harder, but were you self disciplined? It sounds like getting up at 5:30 in the morning, there was an element of that. But when it comes to actually feeling like it was work, you know, when training does get hard, and it’s those opportunities to go, you know what, I’m just going to, 50% will do it today, or were you one of those ones that were like no, every time, I’ve got to get the most out of this.
Michael Lynagh 07:05
Yeah, I think so. I mean, it was, I mean it’s a strange one, because I was aware, not really aware, but I had a lot of natural sporting ability. And I wanted to be a cricketer, cricket was my main game at school and that’s what I wanted to be. And rugby just sort of happened to be the sport that, when we moved to Brisbane, that the school I went to, Gregory Terrace, that was the sport that they played in the winter. So I did that and athletics and swimming, you know, on and off and all that sort of thing. But to be fair, I didn’t really enjoy the training of swimming and and to a lesser degree athletics, but I guess the discipline that was there was that I loved my sport. And I love doing it and I probably at school, at a young age, I probably practised cricket more than I practice rugby. Rugby, I played in B teams in rugby, etc., underage B teams and sort of flitted between A and B teams, etc. And then from 13/14, I first played in the first 11 when I was 13, and played a couple of games and then 14 was in part of the first so I played sort of four years in the first 11 and three years in the first 15 rugby at school and I read became pretty late. And I probably didn’t realise, sort of the talent I had in rugby, it wasn’t really there, it wasn’t very obvious. But a lot of people that were watching, sort of thought that I did. So and then it just, I was lucky as well, lucky in terms of the timing in terms coming out of school and Paul McLean, the incumbent sort of Australian and Queensland number 10, was retiring and all sorts of timing and things like that were lucky, I guess. So it’s a combination of all those things, but I do remember, for example, at a young age, I’d read somewhere that you know, about Bradman hitting the ball with the stump against the corrugated iron of his water tanks, etc. And I did some, I mean hours and hours, I used to put mum’s old sort of stockings and put a cricket ball in and hang it off the clothesline. And I’d spend hours and hours batting on the clothesline, hitting the ball. And at one stage I, recently actually a few years ago still had it, but one of my old bats I tied a brick to the back of it to strengthen my left arm and just do exercises on my left arm. So I was pretty obsessed with that sort of stuff, you know, I played test matches on the clothesline, you know, I very rarely got out, the bowler wasn’t very good, so those sort of things. Rugby was the same I used to, once I started having success and rugby by success I mean, being picked in the first 15 at school at the age of 14 or 15 or whatever I was. I’d go down to the park on my own and kick, kick balls through posts and things like that. That, you know, no fanfare or anything like that, I’d just go and do it, I’d get on my bike and off I’d go. And I remember, a few years later, when I eventually got selected out of school, I was selected in the Australian schoolboys rugby team, it was touring over here in 1981/82. And I remember sort of October, November, after I’d been selected in the team that I realised that we’re going to the UK, so it rains over here a little bit. I used to, when it rained in Brisbane, I’d get on my bike and take the big leather rugby balls down to the park and kick between the goalposts in the rain to get used to, you know, wet pitches and, and heavy ball and all that sort of stuff. And that was all sort of off my own bat. And I guess there was motivation there to just, you know, I was naturally gifted, I knew that. But I sort of certainly looking back on it now worked at it. But when you compare it today, my son’s playing professional rugby, etc. And you see what they do today. I mean, my work ethic was nothing compared to what they do today, but, you know, they’re full time professionals now. I was a student at university and student at school and I was messing around doing other stuff, but there was this other side as well that I had to balance, like I guess having that life balance as well as you know, you we call it work life balance, and I guess, my sport and school and later on studying, but then also working, I really had always had two parts to my, to my life, really. And you see young kids now playing rugby, they’ve got one part of their to life, which, you know, that is very focused. And so I was sort of fairly grateful to have, you know, lots of different aspects to my life, including working, studying, social, that sort of, and having different friends in both those environments, I thought was very healthy and very good. But there was also, on my part, a real importantance of planning my time very well. And also, you know, not going overboard on the, on the social University sort of side of things, because I had this other side, but it was it was that balance. So you decide, okay, well, I can’t do this tonight, because I’ve got to do something tomorrow, or I’ve got a big game on Saturday, I’ve got to take it, you know, but nobody was telling us these things. It was all sort of innate, I guess, and sensible, sort of thinking on my part, but, not that I got it all right all the time. You know, the vast majority of that sort of, you know, planning of time and planning and management of those sort of different roles in my life, which I think held me in pretty good stead over the years, I would think.
Al Fawcett 12:38
Yeah, yeah, we’ll pick up on some of that. And I think that every kid in Australia growing up had heard the Donald Bradman story of the cricket stump and the golf ball. And that’s brilliant. But not every kid would do what you did, and then go out and apply that in order to enhance their skills. So when you are getting, whether it be, you’re going out there on a wet, rainy Brisbane day kicking this old leather football, or when you’re at University and your mates are saying, come on out, let’s go for a drink or whatever. And you’re making those decisions and you’re getting a little bit of, potentially, and you might say it didn’t happen, but you’re getting that that little bit of criticism from those external forces. How did you stay true to the, no, this, this is what’s important now?
Michael Lynagh 13:24
I guess it was just decisions that I made, you know, and I know when I left school and went to uni, you know, it’s a pretty good fun time of life for a 18, 19 year old, you know, at 18 I was playing for Queensland and at 19 got selected for Australia. So there has to be decisions that I had to make. And I guess for a while there, my old school buddies who were having the time of their lives, you know, I sort of, I guess had to not consciously pull myself away from them, but I was doing other stuff. And, you know, I’m still friendly with the vast majority of them and keep in touch with them. But, and I think they understood and when they saw me, they saw I hadn’t changed and I’ve tried to include them as much as possible in the staff. And, you know, they still tried to include me as well. So I think it’s managing those relationships, you know, that are important that you don’t forget, you know, these people and you don’t treat them any differently and you’ll find that they won’t treat you different. But did I consciously think of that? Not really, I just wanted to be, you know, I was friends with them at school so why shouldn’t I be friends with them now? I mean, they’re good people. So why should I change? They won’t, so, you know, people had a different view of me once I started playing for Queensland and Australia, but once they sort of, I guess, saw me post or you know, or during that was happening I guess they felt that, oh he’s okay, he’s all right, and give them tickets and stuff but there’s not that material of stuff, it’s more your time together. And I guess, I loved surfing so that was always a big thing for me. And that was, I guess back in those days, my fitness regime was surfing, I never went to a gym or anything like that. In fact, they weren’t very big back then. And so, but I was naturally very strong and very healthy. And I think that was down to a lot of the surfing I used to do and, and surfing, you know, if you have to get up at 5, 5:30 in the morning, that sort of does them a little bit of what you do the night before, you know, I’d go and have a beer and all that sort of thing. But I’m also going surfing the next morning and so, where a lot of my friends gave up surfing because the beer and the girls were better fun the night before. So I guess I was disciplined in that way and not from…it’s because I enjoyed it. It’s not that I wasn’t saying, oh it’s good for my rugby, it’s my fitness. Sure, that’s a byproduct. But it’s not, it wasn’t the reason I do that. So, you know, it wasn’t an easy time, because I’m sure people were, as it is anybody in the public eye, I guess, you get your criticisms. And I remember when he was at school, and blah, blah, blah, but you know that you can’t do much about that, all you can be is yourself. And when you meet people, I still still now, you know, you meet old school friends or University friends, it’s still, you know, for me, nothing much has changed. We’ve all done a lot of stuff, just some of mines been on an international sporting stage. That doesn’t make me a better person or, or, or a worse person ecause of that, it makes me somebody that’s done something like a lot of my school friends have done a lot of things, you know that I would have loved to of done. Some of them have been very successful in business, very successful in other walks of life, family and all that sort of thing. That’s great. It’s also being interested about people. One of the first things that I do when I meet people is ask, so what do you do? What family do you have? You know, show some interest in people rather than, you know, you see so many sports people or business people that have been successful or not even mildly successful, that it’s all about internal, rather than being interested in other people. And it’s just something that I’ve always felt that if you show some interest, people like talking about themselves, so let them. You know? Get them to do that. I always find that that’s a very good way of breaking down that, you know, oh he’s an international sports star, what am I going to say to him? Tell me about you, you know?
Al Fawcett 17:21
Yeah, I think it’s fascinating. And again, what I find really interesting is that we can all look back in hindsight, we can all look back now and on the fact that you’ve had the successful rugby career, you’ve had a successful business career, both before the rugby and after. And we can look back in hindsight and go, oh, well, that’s albecause of, but it’s the interesting things that you were doing pre that, before that was even on the horizon, it was the discipline of getting up at 5:30 in the morning, but it was because you loved it, it’s because it was something that you wanted to do. And therefore your decisions were reflective of that, well, if I go out and have too much to drink tonight, I’m not going to feel like getting up at 5:30 in the morning, therefore I’m going to miss out on a great session. So it’s those types of things, ut it’s actually unpicking that sometimes. It must be hard to put yourself back before all that was on the horizon. Because like I said, it’s part of who you are now. So did you always see, when the rugby started to come, at what point did you move away from the the cricket side of things and start putting the focus in on the rugby?
Michael Lynagh 18:30
You say, you know, you make decisions around your direction of life, but actually that was made for me on the rugby front, that said, oh, cricket was my main sport. And I really loved cricket, still do. And when I mentioned the Australian schoolboys team that I got selected for in the rugby and it was our first summer out of school. So I finished Australian schools finish, as you know, finish in early December, I would say. And our tour to the UK, Ireland and the USA, actually, we went to California, Los Angeles on the way over, left sort of around, I would think, well let’s say around the 10th or 15th of December, which is the first summer out of school, that’s when I would have been playing cricket, but I happened to be on an Australian schoolboys rugby tour over to the UK and we came back in early January. And then literally the following week I was selected in the Queensland senior rugby squad. I played first grade for University, you know, so it was sort of, the decision was made for me that that’s the direction I took and I obviously got no regrets around that. Rugby has given me everything, literally everything. But, and I often think back you know if I hadn’t have made, and actually, that schoolboys tour, I was in doubt for that because I broke my collarbone badly in my last game for my school, and I had to play in a trial about six or seven weeks after that, and my collarbone was shattered and long story short anyway, I was told that basically, you know, you just have to go and stand up in half of the game and you know, you’ll get picked. Not that they told me that, but subsequently I found that out but so I strapped this thing up, so, you know, I can hardly move and all I did was basically catch the ball and pass it and not go anywhere near contact at all. Nothing much changed after that anyway, some people would say, but then I got selected on that. So I was very close, not making that and I had not made that tour, I probably would have played cricket, and who knows what would have happened. But it was sort of one of those sliding doors moments that you know, you you had success in rugby, and you follow that. And I remember going to my first Queensland rugby squad training, and I was the only person – we had a sort of like a team run after one of the of the early training sessions – and they put me into 10. And I was the only person in that team that hadn’t played a test match for Australia. And it was just like, I remember going home and telling my parents it was like, you know, getting off a skateboard and going into a Rolls Royce. I mean, it was just unbelievable, this thing, because they had all played together before many times and I just slotted in there. And it was, it was really an amazing difference in level to what I’d been used to. And I’d been used to playing Australian school boys who were undefeated over here and won everything, so we were pretty decent, but nothing like this.
Al Fawcett 21:49
And what’s what’s going through your head at that point, you’re standing there looking at these players around you that have all played at the highest level. Are you sitting there going, I deserve to be here. Are you sitting there going, I don’t deserve to be here. Are you sitting there going, how do I make sure I deserve to be here?
Michael Lynagh 22:05
It was more like what what am I doing here? I guess it was, I was very quiet and very willing to learn and listen to what the coaches and what the other players had, why wouldn’t I? I mean these guys are, they’ve done it, they’ve been there, they’re doing it, they know what to do. And so, I think being like that, and not being somebody that came in full of himself and you know, ready to tell, you know, all these test stars what to do. I was very much more, I was a young kid, straight out of school, and I just sort of listened and, and you know, I think they they must have seen something in me because, in terms of the other players, because they sort of never, they all sort of seem to accept me and you know, he fits. And I never thought I was that good really, I didn’t think that good. And I remember talking to a great mate of mine still, Andrew Slack, who’s the centre and he and I became really pretty friendly almost straightaway, he’s just a lovely guy and we’re still friends. But he said before I played my first first grade game against the University against South and Andrew was the opposite 10. I couldn’t have had a better person to play against I guess, he was very supportive of me. But I remember him at one training run. I had played one or two games for Queensland at that time and and I just said, oh look, you know, I’m struggling a little bit you know, I don’t know whether I should belong here. I don’t know, you know. I’m supposed to call all the plays yet, you know, you got all these people around me that you know they’re relying on me and I’m not sure whether to go through something or not and he actually was very supportive he said, you do what you think you gotta do and by the way, I think you’re gonna be one of the greats of all time for Australian rugby I went, what? A scrawny little kid from Brisbane. You know? And he was and I never forget that because they all had confidence in me, a lot more than what I had in myself and I think it was that sort of humble playing down, not playing it down on purpose, but just thinking, well I don’t know if I fit here, obviously I do, but I don’t know, I’ve got to try. And the first year wasn’t too bad but then you had second year syndrome was quite tough. Because everybody had sort of seen me and worked me out and all that sort of thing and it was, it was a lot of pressure on me as a 19 year old to do stuff and I had a few niggly injuries and the goal kicking wasn’t going so well. And it was you know, there’s a lot a lot of stress and I remember that being quite a tough year where it wasn’t that easy.
Al Fawcett 24:54
And how did how did you cope with that? Did you go back to your principles of doubling down and putting in the extra practice and working on those areas? Did you focus on strengths and enhancing those or developing your weaknesses? Did you have a plan?
Michael Lynagh 25:08
Yeah, I guess it was more…I think physically I was okay. I was always pretty small, but as I said earlier, I was, sort of, surprisingly strong, and particularly around legs and lower centre of gravity and all that sort of thing, and pretty quick over a short distance. So all those sort of things were good. I thought, physically, I was okay, I think it was more mentally I was, you know, it had been a very quick rise over a year, and it all happened very quickly. And then it was, okay, we’ve got to go and do it again, now. And I found that it was probably more of a mental thing to deal with, you know, the pressure and having to goal kick every time I ran out as a 18, 19 year old, and, you know, teams depending on you, and particularly at my position, so it’s more stressful sort of thing. So, I guess it was a matter of, sort of learning how to cope with that. And everybody, you know, you have to go through those sort of things and come up with ways to cope. And maybe that’s relaxing a little bit. Like okay, you can kick goals, so don’t worry about that. Just keep keep doing what you’re doing, you know, you can, you can obviously hit the ball. So trust that it’ll happen, and keep practising. And the same with the play, you know, maybe don’t take on as much responsibility, give it to other people, you know, give the ball to others to do, you know, so I guess in business sense, that is trust what got you there and be sort of…delegate a little bit to other people that are good at doing what they’re doing. So as an 18, 19 year old, that’s basically what I came to my, sort of, head and…but it’s hard thing for somebody who’s young to actually come up with that. And I guess I had some help my, my father is a clinical psychologist. So while there was there was a blurring of the father-son relationship and the father-patient relationship. And that wasn’t always necessarily clear. But no doubt, he helped enormously with things like that. And also, when I got into trouble with goalkicking etc., you know, routines, and I guess, you know, thinking about things, mental rehearsal, that sort of stuff. So, but not, not sort of, like, okay, hour before dinner, we’re gonna go lie down on the couch and give you a session. It wasn’t really anything like that at all. But a lot of my friends sort of thought that. But it was more father and son chats. And it just happened to be him. He was probably more qualified than a lot of other parents for that mental side of the game, which back then, in the early 80s, it didn’t really exist in sport. Sports psychology was, was not as accepted as it is now. I mean, now, everybody’s got a sports psychologist. But back then it wasn’t. And dad was still learning that trade. He was a clinical psychologist, but then applied stuff to sport.
Al Fawcett 28:07
Yeah, no, I think that’s fascinating. And again, you talk about, obviously, the goalkicking side of things. So you obviously had the, the physical bits down off pat, you were able to kick a ball. But it’s the mental side of things that actually starts…so whether it becomes the pressure of expectation. But I mean, the physical side of things has to come into it, if you’ve just run 70, 80 metres, somebody scored a try, your heart’s running at, you know, 160 beats a minute, you’ve got to actually bring yourself back into a space where you are calm and reflective and, and to go through your motions. But that mental side of things, of looking up at the scoreboard and the pressure and the expectations and as you’ve already referenced it with relation to how these sort of things can apply in business as well. Somebody taps you on the shoulder, I need you to come and do a presentation in five minutes to the board, because you know, they’re talking about x and you’re the expert on this, so you need to come in and give us an insight and your head races about, what do they want to know? What are we going to say? How am I going to do this? All of these things apply. So did you find yourself over time going through a routine of, how do I, not just a physical one, but the mental one of how do I set myself up for success here as much as possible, whether it be on the kicking side of things or the play in general?
Michael Lynagh 29:25
Yeah. It’s a good question. As a kid, I was very natural. I was a natural kicker playing soccer first. I was one of the first, that I knew of, to put the ball down and go around the corner so to speak, but before that, it was all lay the ball down and toe poke it, rugby league, rugby union, they all did that. And I put the ball down and it just seemed natural to approach around the corner. I’ve seen on TV, people over here doing it and it was quite a strange thing to do. But it was just a natural thing to me to do. So right from from when I was about 10 years of age, I was goalkicking, I was the goal kicker. That was…and it was all reasonably natural, I didn’t practice much, you know, I just liked kicking the ball and do it and it’d be okay. Then you get into more serious stuff and you, yeah, it was…I still didn’t practice as much as I should have. For example, you know, you go to training after a full day’s work or studying etc., and then at six o’clock, you’d train and you’d finish at 7:30, 7:45, then, after a full day, you go, oh, I’ve got to do goal kicking. And it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy finding the time to do it. And I must admit, I was probably, I probably could have done more on that front, because then you come to the weekend, and it’s a bit like standing on the first tee of at golf, you know, I don’t practice golf enough, so I don’t know where it’s gonna go on the first tee, I just hope it goes down in the middle, I’m going to have a good day. Well goal kicking for me was a little bit like that, you know, geez, I hope I get one in front, I could kick it over and get confidence one for one. You know, off I go, but if you get one from out on the sideline and you miss it, you’re none for one, miss the next one, none for two, all of a sudden it becomes a bit of a crisis. So dealing with all that. Interestingly, later on when I came over to Saracens here as a professional, I realised that a lot of the squad were on bonuses, win bonuses, so as a fly half, but particularly the goal kicker, I had a big say in whether they ate that week, you know with bonus money for winning. And so I practised a lot more. And in the cold winters here, I’d go and practice. I used to go down to grounds the day before. We’re playing down in Bristol, I’d drive down to Bristol the day before and practice on that particular pitch and all these sort of things that…nobody was doing these things at that time. I worked it out and I practised a lot more and what happened, my percentages went through the roof, I was getting much better at goal kicking, much more confident about it. And when I stood on that first tee, I was sort of feeling pretty good that it was going to go somewhere near the middle. I guess the best story I can give about how the mental side of things, was in the ’84 Grand Slam Wallaby tour over here. And I came away as the second fly half to Mark Ella, Mark Ella was going to be 10 without question, fine. But then Alan Jones, the coach, said that we needed a goal kicker in the team. And I was the best goalkeeper on tour, so he told me. Anyway, so I ended up playing inside centre to Mark’s 10 but as the goal kicker and playmaker as well, and all that sort of thing, and we played well. But the first test against England here just down the road here from where I live, we won quite comfortably but I think…I can’t remember the exact figures but I was well below 50% goalkicking on the day. But we won, we won quite comfortably anyway, so it was okay. Second test was over in Ireland. And yeah, I had another problem goalkicking day. And it was interesting because during the week I was kicking beautifully in the game, other games, I was kicking beautifully, all that sort of thing. And come the test matches, I’d be just missing, just missing. Anyway, for the Welsh game, Alan Jones said, I’m going to give the goalkicking, you can stay in the team, but we’re going to give the goalkicking to Roger Gould, the fullback. So I said fine, whatever is best so and he kicked beautifully, hardly missed one, we won, we won pretty comfortably. I scored a try. So I still scored some points, but not by goalkicking. And then the Grand Slam game was against Scotland. And I’d still been kicking pretty well in the midweek games and all the lead ups etc. And then so Alan said, right, Roger, Michael, come on. This is on the Thursday, I think before the Saturday game and we had a bit of a kick off and you know, Roger was hitting beautifully, I was hitting it really nicely. Anyway, Alan said to me, Michael, you’re kicking. I went, oh, okay. It’s Australia’s biggest game in their history, but you know, going for a Grand Slam at Murrayfield. Anyway, behind the scenes while this is all going on, back in those days, we didn’t have computers, it was all phone calls, and they cost a fortune and I’m a student right? So my father had worked out that while I was kicking very well during the week, I was playing fly half. And so I was used to that whole thing. When I went to 12 in the test matches and the other game I was playing…it was much more of a confrontational position back in those days, you were doing a lot more tackling, a lot more, sort of, physical stuff. And dad thought that when I got to come to do a goal kick after doing all that stuff, your analogy was very good. He likened it to a golfer driving the ball, then running down the fairway with spectators trying to tackle him, hitting another shot, same thing happening, going to the green and having a 10 foot putt for birdie with a heart rate of 160. You know, so it’s similar to that and that’s sort of the analogy he used and he said, I think that because you’re playing 12, your level of, sort of, arousal in terms of physical arousal, you know, is that much higher, therefore, it’s causing you to just miss, just by a straight, just by a fraction, just enough. And so he devised this thing and he said, what I want you to do before you take a goal kick is to press the slow motion button. And I went, what? I don’t have one, I’m not a robot. And he said, no, in your head, I want you to mentally press a slow motion button so that you do…when you know you’ve got a goal kick, you do everything in slow motion. And that’ll have the effect of bringing you all the way down to a level where you’re more comfortable doing a fine motor skill, like goalkicking, because the lower your heart rate, etc., the more chance you have of making that 10 foot putt. So I never forget, in Scotland and I see it on VHS now…because at the time, I remember pressing the slow motion button when I got the penalty up, the first one. And I felt like I was going in slow motion. But when you look at the video, it’s just normal. You can’t tell the difference, but in my mind, and my heart rate, etc., it’s all being brought down. And that day, I kicked, I kicked everything. I think I missed one goal from the sideline, but I broke the Australian point scoring record in the biggest game ever. And it was a really salient, sort of, lesson about how you can control your body through your mind to actually perform something physical to a better ability. I told that story. I was playing golf with Michael Campbell, the New Zealand golfer. And he said, have you ever had…we were on a tee at a pro and we were waiting and I put, and he said, have you ever had problems with goalkicking? I said, yeah, and I told him this story. Anyway, two weeks later, he you ended up winning USPGA. You had to qualify to get in and he said, I don’t think I’ll go. Anyway off he goes, qualified, went over and he won the thing. And he was playing Tiger Woods on the 18th hole, and he’s drive on the 18th. And he ran off to the toilet. Anyway, came back to the fairway, hit a shot that was 45 yards short, and he had to get up and down to win. And he did. Anyway, I send him a text on the Monday or whatever, and about a week later, he replied, he said, I went to the toilet to press the slow motion button. And I went, oh okay, I look forward to getting a percentage of your check.
Al Fawcett 37:41
That’s brilliant, though, isn’t it? Because again, you’re absolutely right, our thinking, the thought process that we use can impact our emotions, and therefore the actions and the behaviours that we have. And that can work both ways. If we apply that out to the ’91 World Cup final, you miss your first kick. And you know, that could be the, this is going to be the worst day ever, type situation or, okay, I’ll get the next one, type mentality. And again, it’s almost those pivotal moments that can start to happen on how we use our thinking and our thought process to ensure that we put that behind us, move on and go through that ritual again, that mindset thing.
Michael Lynagh 38:22
You mentioned that ’91 final, and I’d never…this is a recent story actually, I’d never watched the game as a whole, and it got to the point where I said to myself, oh, well, I’ll watch it when I have kids and, you know, we’ll do it together. Anyway, it was two years ago, my parents were around and anyway, I thought, why not? We’ll watch it. It was on it was on sort of ESPN or whatever, you know, on a replay. And I said it’s on a Friday night. And so on the Thursday night I said to the family, let’s get…we’re all going to have dinner tomorrow night, then we’re going to sit down and we’re going to watch this game, my son goes, oh dad do we have to? And dad goes, what a great idea. So three generations of our family got to watch the game. Now the kids have never seen it either, I’d never seen, my wife had obviously…oh, she’d seen it I think but not when we’re married and then mum and dad, so, who were there at the game. So I got a nice bottle of wine out, we sat down and that first kick came up and the commentator was going, oh, this will test Lynagh’s metal, you know, the big occasion, he must be nervous, blah, blah, blah. And my other son said, did you get it dad? Did you get this kick? And I said, honestly, I don’t know. I do not know, I couldn’t remember it, you know, quite a long time ago. But I couldn’t remember. And anyway, the commentators you know, think it was John Taylor was like, well, he’s got to get this, this will set up the day and it’s a big, huge kick for him. Anyway, I basically blocked it right, I must have missed it by 20 yards and my kids go, oh, dad, how embarrassing. And it was actually, because it was actually a terrible kick, but then to be able to, as you just said, to be able to put that away. And next one, get back into that routine. Okay, I’ll just trust what you’ve been doing. And that…it’s interesting with that as well, because I, in preparation as well, the day before I was at Twickenham, the team had a light walk around, etc. And I was doing some goalkicking, and I noticed…the way it was shaped back then, not the ame as it is now, was the flags on top of the posts was showing one direction, but down the pitch it was feeling another direction. And I could only work out that the wind was coming in one side, hitting the stands and coming around and sort of swirling. So I took a few kicks and I noticed it was the exact opposite to what I was feeling on the pitch, the way the ball went. The wind, I felt, this way, yet the ball went the other way. And I thought, that’s weird. So I turned around and did it, and it was the same. So I worked out that the wind direction was hitting off the stands and affecting it down low, but up high, it was what I thought. So the next day, when I was kicking, I actually…there was a real crucial kick, I mean they were all crucial, because we only won 12, and it was right near one of the positions where I was practising from the day before. And I felt the wind coming off my left but trusted what I’d done the day before. And of course, it went from right to left. And so that was that was a very real example of preparing and knowing and trusting in that preparation.
Al Fawcett 41:33
Yeah, I think that’s key. So you talked about obviously, when you first entered into the the the ranks of the top tier, and how you felt. What about when you became one of the elder statesman of the team? And there was youth coming up behind you. Were you the type that would put your arm around their shoulder and say, come with me, son, I’ll teach you the ways or what role did you play at that point?
Michael Lynagh 41:57
Yeah, I’d hope that would be the case? I don’t know, it’s a good question. Because I don’t look at myself sort of as this is… I think, sort of, more like well you’re a teammate so therefore we work together and, you know, may not necessarily get on with you off the pitch, but I’m going to try and we’re a team. So when you see young people come into the team who have obviously got talent, you know, that’s a plus, that’s, that’s great. And you just harness that and you point them in the right direction, and off they go, you let them do their stuff. The problem becomes when it’s more of a, not a problem, but where, you know, maybe people who come into the team, you know, there might be injuries or something like that, and they’re not quite, you know, they’re good, they’re really, really good, but not to the same level. So, how do you encourage and support them, and help them and now, you know, that’s something that once again, we’re a team, we’ve got to do the best we can, and I’m here to help as much as possible. I’m not going to jump on you from a great height if you don’t do what I say or, or you know, you don’t perform well. It’s not that at all, you know, I’d love you to perform well. So trying to help as much as possible, I would think, I’d like to think, that’s what I did. And, and actually, from being in that experience, other people around me actually became better players. I mean, that’s part of the role, I think of the fly half. It’s about making people around you to look good. And if I can do that, I’ve done my job really and the same at work, you know, if you get people who are fantastic working around you, make them look good. Because if they, if they’re looking good and making happy and all that, they may not give you any credit, but you know, deep down, we all know that that’s part of being a team, make each other look good.
Al Fawcett 43:50
And I was gonna make that link to that actually applies in business and in personal life and you know, all aspects of life really, isn’t it? It’s about, how do I help those around me to get better, to maximise their potential to, to reach those sort of heights that they might not have without a little bit of help and guidance and support. But it must be tricky when the person coming into the team is competing for the same spot as you, because again, that’s something that you don’t necessarily see as quite so obviously in other aspects of life. But when somebody is coming in, it’s like, I’m after your spot. We’re competing for the same thing, but to still have that mentality of, it’s whatever is the best for the team. It’s gonna be a challenge, right?
Michael Lynagh 44:36
Yeah, I was…yes. and over the last 10, 15 years that I was sort of involved in Queensland and Australian rugby, I was reasonably lucky once again that there wasn’t…you know, there were other players around and you know, you do your best for them and all that sort of stuff, but I was lucky that there weren’t too many challenges. I got dropped once from the Australian team for somebody, but, you know, I played with him for quite some time before and after. And you know, it’s okay. I mean, it happens. But yeah, you mentioned that sort of helping thing…I was watching the Michael Jordan series recently and he was, you know, I hope I wasn’t like that because that’s, you know, where you start to try…you really test people to almost put them down to see what they’re made of. I was never like that. And I don’t…I’ve never, I never responded well, to that sort of thing that if that was done to me. I was more an encourager and a supporter, as opposed to, you know, let’s see how tough this person is and see if he can bounce back from you know, a bit of lip. Of course, you give a bit of it, but I was, I was almost the exact opposite to that.
Al Fawcett 45:52
Well, it’s interesting, isn’t it? Because again, great coaches are renowned for this, great managers are renowned for this, it’s about understanding themselves, but also the individuals around them. And it’s that thing of, rather than trying to break people necessarily, it’s about understanding which person I need to go and put my arm around and which person only kick up the backside, because that’s their drivers. That’s the way that they get motivated and it’s the that ability to do that. So let’s move on a little bit, you were in a situation where obviously, you were pre-professional rugby career, moved into a bit of professional career. And you mentioned earlier that, you know that when you came over here, and you were playing professionally, that you were talking about taking responsibility for the fact that your teammates were relying on you to kick goals for them to get a player bonus. So it wasn’t about the expectation of yourself, I want to do this for myself, it’s about I need to provide for my teammates, but because you were in the pre-professional time, and obviously, since retiring, you had to do that, play rugby at the top level, whilst having a career. So what sort of those traits do you think have have served you well in a business side of things as well? Both before and after?
Michael Lynagh 47:08
Yeah, it’s interesting, isn’t it? I mean, in terms of, you know, business career, I wouldn’t say that it’s been the success that I would have liked it to have been, because I sort of have moved around quite a bit in terms of both jobs, and in terms of different types of business. So I always said, when I left rugby, that I, you know, okay, I known as Michael Lynagh rugby player, but in 10 years time, I’d like to be known as Michael Lynagh who does this and used to play a bit of rugby, and that sort of really hasn’t happened. And maybe, you know, it’s a bit hard to emulate the success I had at rugby in the business world, but why not? And I just probably haven’t quite got to there yet, still working on it. But the things that I can take from the sporting field is that that sense of teamwork, and it’s not always returned, I tend to be very humble and very quiet about the way I do things. Even in the rugby, I was like that, you know, when I became captain, I used to go to, sort of, couple of the senior forwards and say, you know, I’m delegating to you, it is your responsibility to get the forward pack right. Because if I stood up in the dressing room, and jumped up and down the table and shouted and swear and carry on, they would know that…everybody would know that’s an act. It’s not me. And it’s not, not me being the right sort of leader I wanted to be, so I wanted to give you the opportunity to…it’s your responsibility to get these guys right. I’ll look after the backs and all that for the thing and the general sort of stuff. And, and you know, you pick those guys, and they do it and they do it well. And you do the similar thing in business, you give people the opportunities to perform, and you help them as much as you can. And I’ve seen it so many times where, you know, people manage up in business, and it can be very successful. But it’s also very annoying, because everybody knows you’re doing it. And I’m not one of those people, and probably to my detriment, I probably should have talked about it a little bit louder. But in the same time, it’s not being honest to yourself, you know, people keep saying, oh, you know, you, you should talk more about what you do and you should talk more about your success and all this sort of stuff. My success is that I’ve still got a job and I’m there and I’m doing reasonably well. And I prefer to have, you know, the people that are out there doing it, getting applauded. I sort of always think that that’s something that the people that should know, will know and the ones that sort of carry on and shout the loudes,t well the people that should know, know that as well. And you just hope that the people above you actually are aware of personality traits enough to understand that sometimes, having such and such ringing me three times a day and sending me emails about how good he or she is, is not really what I want. I want somebody that’s more happy doing it, rather than talking about it. It’s a difficult one, because I’ve been told a lot that I don’t do that enough. And it’s just not, you know, if I haven’t got anything to say to somebody, I won’t annoy them, but you know, when I do need to talk to them, my seniors, they will know. And I, you know, and they’ll take my call, because oh, Mike was calling, he must really need something. Okay. That’s the position, I’d rather be in. It’s a tough one corporately though, because you see a lot of people that climb a lot of steps very quickly, because of doing the exact opposite.
Al Fawcett 50:43
Self promotion, that ability to give that impression of the demonstration of a lot of potential and we’re not, we’re not realising that potential because they could offer so much more, they’re capable of so much more. And they’re very good at telling people that and whatever without anything to back it up. The bit that must be tricky for you, based on what you were saying there is that the difference with playing rugby is you played rugby at the highest level, but it’s on a world stage, it’s visible to all, they can turn on the telly and there you are, you don’t need to brag and self promote, your actions take care of themselves. In the corporate world that can get hidden behind day to day activities and, and productivity and whatever. So that core bit of being authentic, and being true to yourself, I think has to be at the basis of it all. But I do understand that thing of occasionally needing to take credit for actions that you put in place. But it, it’s how you position that. Because once again, it’s how you position that in such a way that this comes across as, for the good of the team, these are the things that we’re doing and how I’ve instrumented and set this person up for success and helped them. So again, you still become the playmaker, you still become the, I am putting them in positions for them to look good. And you’d like to say, that those around you will recognise that and see that for what that is.
Michael Lynagh 52:11
Yeah, exactly. And I’d like to be, at my sort of age now, as somebody that people can come to and trust and talk to, you know, and be able to give a little bit of guidance about, you know, issues they might have or how to direct and I quite enjoy doing that. But then there’s other people who don’t do that, because they think that they’re in competition with me and or they’re shy, you know, they’re like, oh Michael, I can’t talk to Michael, you know, so it’s getting that trust within a team. And you know, I don’t…you know, we have a lot of people in the office, but I don’t have a team as such. It’s a pretty general sort of, you know, those that want that…But, you know, I’ve always said to them, you know, whatever you want, you don’t have to make an appointment, just come around and see me and talk to you. Well, yeah, if I can, I will. And so that’s a good thing that you’re talking about, you know. Our company based in America and you’d be introducing yourself, and I’ll say, well I was first in commercial real estate and I did this and this, and I’ve been at Dow Jones for five years now and blah, blah, blah. And invariably straight after, they’ll be a, oh Michael’s being humble here, because what what he didn’t mention was he was this rugby player. And it’s like, oh, wow, you know? And it sort of embarrasses me a little bit, because that shouldn’t really make any difference to why we’re there, because it’s a different life. And then often I’ve had, on another front, you know, where it hasn’t been brought up at all in the meeting and then somebody obviously going to Google you, and they’ll write back and they’ll go, you didn’t tell me you’re this rugby player. And actually, sometimes it helps, and other times it doesn’t make any difference whatsoever. There’s never a negative, I don’t think, because I’m far enough separated now from when rugby happened to now, to actually say, well Michael hasn’t got this job because he used to kick a ball around a field, he’s actually got it because actually he might have some ability in the job. So that’s…but straight after, and while playing, there’s no doubt that I got a job because of rugby, both straight after I finished professionally here, was directly from the owner of the Rugby Club, basically. Oh, what do you do? Oh, commercial property. Oh, I’m a shareholder in this company over here, go and see this guy. Bingo. Back in the day, back in Australia, I showed an interest in commercial property. So I’ll go and see Sam Buchanan who runs Richard Alice in Australia, now CBRE, and runs it in Queensland, so I went and saw Sam and he gave me a job and, lowdown but I was under no illusion that I would have got that job. If I hadn’t been playing for Queensland or Australia. What the important thing is, you know, rugby opens the doors for you. But the important thing is that when you go through it, that it doesn’t shut in your face. You’ve got to keep it open. Particularly in a small town like Brisbane where people talk, you know, Lynagh will call on you shortly, he’s a waste of time, a waste of space, don’t take it. And I was also under no illusion that I didn’t really know too much about commercial leasing at that time. So I was very good at getting the appointments, but I’d always take somebody with me who was probably more knowledgeable than me. And after a while I would learn and then go on my own. But, I was always very honest, I don’t know the answer to that question, I’ll get back to you. Because you don’t bullshit it, they know the answer to the question before they even ask, they’re just testing. So there’s a lot of lessons in that, but as I said earlier, you know, rugby has given me everything, it has, it really has, it’s given the opportunity that where I’ve been honest enough with myself saying, well, rugby has given me this, I didn’t get this, it’s rugby that’s given me this. And I’ve got to then make it work. And sometimes they didn’t work. And other times they did.
Al Fawcett 55:56
Yeah, but even even then you say, rugby’s, given me this, I didn’t. But it’s your success within that realm. So to be able to do it for the time that you did at the highest level and to perform day in, day out, the reason people would be interested in that, or it would give them a perception is because they know the dedication that goes into it. So if you can apply those practice principles, that ability to be part of a team, because it was really interesting, when you said right at the beginning that you did swimming, and you did athletics, but they weren’t really…but ball sports and team sports seem to be your thing. So it starts to tell you that the character of the man is he’s a team person. You said about the fact that you, obviously within the team, you didn’t always have to like the people, but you had to see it as a team, and how do we as a team work well together. So I might not like you off the field, but you you worked in teams that…or played in teams, that obviously had a bunch of characters in there, from, as you said, the big forwards that have a particular style of play, and a particular approach and a particular mentality towards things. And then some back players who will have a different approach and maybe a little bit more of a maverick style or more of a character about them, and your ability to be able to adapt across those people. And people can see that and will maybe potentially give you a go because of that, but as you said, you’ve got to keep that job.
Michael Lynagh 57:30
Rugby opens the opportunity. And it’s up to you whether that opportunity gets taken or not. And but yeah, you’re right. You know, all those things that rugby sort of offers as a team sport, is very applicable in business, but you’ve still got to, you’ve still got to do it. You know, and I’ve always realised that. But there’s been plenty of interviews that I’ve sat down in and and haven’t got the job. And you know, that’s, that’s fine. I mean, most people have gone through those sort of things, either haven’t been suited or you know, not qualified or whatever. But it’s interesting, isn’t it? You know, when you mentioned team sports, very obviously, I love team sports, it suits me. But having said that, my two great pastimes through the whole time, while playing team sports was very solitude, surfing and golf. So maybe those were my respite, you know, in terms of team sports, you’re giving everything for everyone else. There’s my little selfish one, you know, where that’s giving to me. Surfing, you know, is more about my pleasure out of getting surfing and, and golf is probably my torture.
Al Fawcett 58:41
You can’t get more opposite, can you? In a sense of, one very zen and the other not so much.
Michael Lynagh 58:47
Golf is also, while it’s an individual pursuit, it’s pretty social, you’re always playing with somebody or against somebody, unless you go out on your own. So it’s an individual sport, it’s you against the course and the ball.
Al Fawcett 59:02
Yeah, no, I get that, I get that completely. So I suppose, sort of, bringing this around, and we’ve covered a lot of things and I could deep dive into a number of those on an individual basis. But, you know, we started at the beginning about where did you get those core values from? And you’ve mentioned about family, you mentioned about teams that you’re a part of, so what, throughout your life, if we sort of project it through, is there any sort of behaviours, or things daily practices that you apply, that have come all the way through that life, things that you do now on a daily basis, that helps you to continue to have that success mindset?
Michael Lynagh 59:40
Um, I guess it’s some self discipline, you know, trying to put words around it, but I guess I’m on a self starter, so I’ll do it. I don’t need to be told to go and do it. Sometimes. Yes. We all need to be told to do something we don’t want to do. But you know, for example during lockdown, you know, I’m at the computer working. You know, and a lot of people have had to deal with that for the first time, etc. But for me, it was just like, it was more normal, you know, and right from a young age, you know, I had a sister, a younger sister, but I was sort of on my own a lot of the time in terms of rugby, etc. But I’d make up games myself and go and play them or I’d go and train as I’ve alluded to, I was very much sort of self disciplined where I didn’t…and you hear so many people saying, oh, you need, I need to train with somebody, I can’t train on my own. Well I’m the exact opposite, I prefer training on my own. I prefer doing things like that, you know, and I do them without being told to do them. But in the amateur days, nobody told you to train. You’d turn up on a Tuesday night or Thursday night, those were your two training sessions, the rest of the time, you could do whatever you like. But I’d be doing other stuff that would help my rugby and interestingly, I see my son’s now, the 19 year old and a 17 year old in particular, and particularly the 17 year old since he was very young, he would go and just kick a ball against the tree, you know, goalkicking on his own and not being told, not made. And same thing, you know, we were during lockdown, off they’d go down the park, and they do pretty solid training sessions together. And nobody’s telling them to do that. And I sort of think, well, okay, that’s, that’s a bit like what I used to do. And every now and then my dad would get on the back saying, you know, you’re a bit lazy and should be doing stuff. And I’ve done the same with them, but it’s our job isn’t it? As a father, push them push them. But I think that’s probably the main thing, it’s a bit of a get up and go and go and do it. Without being a zealot about it, it’s just, very quietly, and I’ll go and do it on my own. I had a knee replacement in January. And so you know, the recovery from that was very much, I know what I’m doing, a bit of guidance from physio, give me the exercises, etc. But I know how to recover. And, you know, my wife says to me, when you get something in your mind, you become obsessed with it. And so during lockdown, I became obsessed with walking with the dog. But that was part of my recovery. We were lucky we could do it, up in Richmond Park here. So, that sort of drive that comes from within without people telling you what to do. In fact, the opposite, I’m sort of like, yeah, okay. Okay, got it. I’ll go and do this over here.
Al Fawcett 1:02:30
That’s a really interesting one with regards to that. Many people will ask the question of what would you tell a 16 year old Michael Lynagh? If you had the chance to go back and talk to Michael Lynagh at 16, 17, what would you tell him? But I’m more interested in the other side of that. If you were 16, and a senior Michael Lynagh came to you at that age and started to give you the advice that you would suggest that you would portray to that, the 16 year old, how would you at 16 take it? Would you sit there and go, yeah, no, brilliant, I’m glad you’ve told me that, I will set myself on that path. Or would you turn around and say, you don’t know anything old man.
Michael Lynagh 1:03:06
You know, I think at 16 I was probably listening to too many people. I think deciding and through trial and error almost, you know, who you should be listening to, who’s the people you should be listening to. That for a young kid is the toughest thing, I think, you know, and sometimes you have coaches that aren’t great. And other times you have coaches that are wonderful. I was very lucky that most of my coaches from sort of the age of 14, 15 were pretty good, actually very good, some of Australia’s best coaches. So, very lucky in that regard, but listening to them, and learning from them and being supported by them. And not being a problem, I wasn’t a problem at all, you know, they knew I was doing stuff, you know, they knew they could trust me. And that sort of, I’m not a coach killer, I guess. That’s important, because you get the trust of the coach, coach knows you’re doing stuff, he doesn’t have to worry about you, there’s other people, and that’s a bit with work as well. And the same thing at work, you know, my seniors, if they know and trust me, they let me go and do stuff without me having to write them 10 emails a day telling them what I did, you know, or phoning them and you know, just for the sake of it, that sort of trust is so important, I think. And I guess, you know, I guess I’m in the position now when you talk about 16 year old me, I’ve got boys that are in a similar position. And I guess…actually my son yesterday, we were talking about…my 17 year old was talking about goalkicking and he was told that he should be talking to this particular coach about goal kicking. Tom said to me, why do I have to do that when I’ve got you sitting beside me? And I went, because you never listen to me. Actually, he doesn’t need any coaching, he just needs encouragement, he’s a beautiful kicker but he did say that which I thought well, that’s nice.
Al Fawcett 1:05:00
What a compliment, especially as you know, like you said, a lot of the times the last person they want to get advice from is dad, but that’s brilliant. And what you just said there again, to me is the essence of coaching, where you said he doesn’t need coaching, he needs encouragement. Well, that is coaching. You know, it’s a knowing what to apply. Sometimes it is absolutely skill drills, it’s like, let’s break down the technique. Other times it is the mindset, it’s the, follow the process, you know what to do. Let’s get your head right, let’s do those sort of bits and pieces. And I think that’s key.
Michael Lynagh 1:05:32
That’s absolutely right. And it’s interesting, because when we were recently on holidays, my 13 year old and 17 year old would go kicking together and the 13 year olds just started, so I spent a lot of time with him getting his technique right, but after a while, it’s just like, okay, off you go, and he can see the results were different, hecould say that, that it was working. And…whereas my 17 year old, he’s fine, just let him kick. There’s nothing much I can do with him. But other than when he gets disappointed when he misses one is to actually say, Tom, you know, you know what you did wrong there, so just fix it up and you know, work on that, making it the same all the time.
Al Fawcett 1:06:08
No, that’s brilliant. In order to summarise all of what we’ve just talked about, it strikes me as whether you are playing the game, or within business now, the role that you play, correct me if I’m wrong on this, was you were a safe pair of hands. You were that reliable, reliant person who wasn’t gonna make a song and dance about things. But you were always there for those around you. You’ve used the word trust, you’ve used the word, you know, team, you’ve used the words in relation to your business, the powers that be, understanding what your role is and how you’re going about doing it. So it feels to me like I say, that safe pair of hands means that people know, we can rely on you. And that’s, that’s got to be a key.
Michael Lynagh 1:06:53
Yeah. Well, that’s a nice, nice trait to have. And I guess, you know, you get asked if you can go and do this, you just know it’s going to get done, rather than having to follow it up. And so that’s…I guess, on the opposite side of that, you know, I’m not…none of us like, or some people do, but I don’t like confrontation. But I’ll do it if I have to. But I tend to go quiet, as opposed to doing that. And history shows me, and it happens all the time, that actually rather than going quiet, you just go and talk about it and confront it straight away rather than stewing for about a week. So that would be one of my work ons, I guess, I need to work better at, if there’s a problem, just deal with it and get it done. Sometimes I do and it works fine. And other times, it’s just really…I get upset and just sort of retreat, and wait for the other person to realise, oh what’s wrong? What’s wrong? Well, let me tell you. So but you know, that safe pair of hands? I would that was that’s a pretty good description, you know, you asked me to do something, and sometimes, if it’s something I enjoy doing, it’ll get done very quickly and very well. And other times, it might take a little longer, but it’ll get done, you know, it’ll happen. A good description, I would think, I’d hope.
Al Fawcett 1:08:08
Fantastic. And listen, all that’s left for me to say is thank you ever so much for today. I’ve really enjoyed this. And there are lots of little lessons that I think that many people can take from it and apply.
Michael Lynagh 1:08:17
Ah, no, thanks, Alan, I’ve really enjoyed it. Thank you very much. Any time.
Al Fawcett 1:08:22
Well, I really enjoyed that. It gave a great new insight into how to achieve high performance and the challenges that you’ll have to face to stay there. The talk of having natural talent, but making sure that you don’t waste it was brilliant. A what about all that practice, preparation and putting in the extra work and what you learn from it, rather than just going through the motions. And then there was the perspective of wanting to deliver for the team and teammates and the expectations that that can bring. And then of course, there was a talk about how Michael sees himself in a business environment. And even the sense that he’s not satisfied yet. No doubt based on the stance that he sets for himself. But rather than putting on an act, it’s about knowing yourself and being true to yourself. I took a lot from the conversation and could have explored many of these topics further. So maybe I’ll have to get Michael back on and we can explore one of two of them in more detail. Okay. So as I said at the start, I really do appreciate that you’ve taken the time to listen to this conversation and hope you’ve got as much from it as I did. If you did enjoy it, it’d be fantastic if you shared it with someone else who may benefit from it. We have some more great guests lined up in the coming weeks, so make sure you subscribe wherever you get your podcasts so you can check them out. I’d love to know what you think, so you can leave a rating review on Apple podcasts or you can always reach out and get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. It’d be great to hear your thoughts and experience, who you’d love to hear on the show, and of course, let me know if I may be able to do anything to help. Thanks for listening. Now go and do stuff that matters and have a great one.