Even if you know nothing about Rugby you are sure to know the All Blacks – the national team of New Zealand. There are some sporting teams that transcend their sport, like the New York Yankees or FC Barcelona and come to be a symbol of much more. For anyone who has ever visited New Zealand, or spent even a few moments with someone from there, will know how seriously they take their Rugby. The sport for them embodies a large part of their culture, especially the idea of their past and the native islanders, seen through the famous Haka they perform at the start of each match. Each man who pulls on the shirt carries this weight of expectation on their shoulders and knows that there is so much more to their job than simply throwing around a misshapen ball.
For everyone involved in New Zealand Rugby it is really important they understand this and fully ‘get’ what it means to be an All Black. To do this they have come up with 15 principles that encapsulates, protects and continues this legacy.
1. Sweep the Sheds Never be too big to do the small things that need to be done.
2. Go for the Gap When you’re on top of your game, change your game.
3. Play with Purpose Ask ‘Why?’
4. Pass the Ball Leaders create leaders.
5. Create a Learning Environment Leaders are teachers
6. No Obnoxiousness Follow the spearhead.
7. Embrace Expectations Aim for the highest cloud.
8. Train to Win Practice under pressure.
9. Keep a Blue Head Control your attention.
10. Know Thyself Keep it real.
11. Sacrifice Find something you would die for and give your life to it.
12. Invent your own language Sing your world into existence.
13. Ritualise to Actualise Create a culture.
14. Be a Good Ancestor Plant trees you’ll never see.
15. Write Your Legacy This is your time.
When I read these, I was struck at how many could be applied to what we are trying to create at King’s and with the Senior Team we have been creating our own set of principles (although I have stolen a few) which will guide our work, especially as the school grows which could put our culture at risk. Each blog for the next few weeks will be focused around one of these ‘mantras’ explaining more about how we can embody them.
It is important to say, however, that culture is not formed through nice posters or even these blogs. It is formed by repeated practice, using every minute of every day to build good habits, think Aristotle! The King’s Bolton Principles are designed to encapsulate our existing culture to maintain it for future generations of King’s staff and students.