The All Blacks are the greatest sporting team in the world. They have the best record of any professional sports team of the last 100 years of any code. Yet for most of my life they had a reputation for choking at the last hurdle, World Cups. Legacy is the story of what the All Blacks changed, and didn’t. How they refocused after a humiliating defeat and how we can all use those lessons to be better at what we do.
The subtitle of Legacy is 15 Lessons in Leadership. Each lesson has a maori proverb, the translation and how it applies to a virtue that the All Blacks promote.The writing style is clear and sharp with a simple format the encourages re-reading.
The author spent time embedded with the team in 2010 before they broke the World Cup drought in 2011. The book starts with the All Blacks after a game, a victory. Before they leave three players grab brooms and give the place a tidy. They all do it, no one is too big for the little things. Kerr explains the importance of humility in Maori culture and how that is a key belief of the team.
Waiho ma te tangata e mihi – Let someone else praise your virtues – SWEEP THE SHEDS
The All Blacks place in New Zealand culture is clear but also the importance of the culture on the team. Maoritanga and its influence is a strong feature and promoted throughout. According to the governing board, the NZRFU, the role of the All Blacks is to unite and inspire New Zealand.
It’s not just Maori culture. The different Pacific Islands and their traditions are also a focus. Even the small club sides they all first played for get respected.
Kerr talks about the dark days of the team bottoming out, when they realised it was the team culture that wasn’t working. Along with a few others, the coaches and captains gathered in Wellington. They spent days working on who they wanted the All Blacks to be. This group included Brian Lochore. A former All Black Captain, Coach and Manager, Brian is a man of great mana. He came up with the phrase, ‘Better People make Better All Blacks.’
Language and Ritual get their own chapters. Stories are important as are rituals, create them for yourself or your team. The Respect chapter explains the ‘No Dickheads’ policy they borrowed from the Sydney Swans. Expectations talks of using the desolate feeling after a loss to never go there again.
It’s not just tales of the All Blacks, there are other examples. Much like Ryan Holiday he uses Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh and other greats of American sport.
Legacy goes into the Harder To Destroy Hall of Fame.The book floors me, the lessons and examples he uses resonate on many levels. When he talks of old All Blacks, I remember their careers and those moments and how the country felt. But it’s not just for All Blacks fans. If you are in business or run a team of people, train athletes or just want to get more out of yourself, this is an exceptional book. I’ve read it twice and plan on coming back to it again.