To achieve you must first, believe. Belief can do amazing things. It can create razor-sharp focus on a vision, create an iron will, build resilience to the toughest challenges, and unleash your maximum potential. Belief can form a major foundation of a great and successful workplace culture too.
In episode 18 of the Sticky From The Inside podcast, host, Andy Goram goes solo for a change and uses the remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of the Premiership Rugby team, Harlequins, to illustrate the incredible power culture can play in extracting the maximum personal and team benefits of aligning purpose, authentic identity and belief.
Below is a full transcript of the episode.
00:00:00 Andy Goram
Hello, and welcome to sticky from the inside. The Employee Engagement podcast that looks at how to build stickier competition, smashing consistently successful organisations from the inside out. I'm your host Andy Goram and I'm on a mission to help more businesses turn their lights on behind the eyes of their employees, light the fires within them and create tons more success for everyone.
This podcast is for all those who believe that's something worth going after and would like a little help and guidance in achieving that. Each episode we dive into the topics that can help create what I call stickier businesses, the sort of businesses where people thrive and love to work and where more customers stay with you and recommend you to others because they love what you do and why you do it.
So, if you want to take the tricky out of being sticky, listen on.
00:01:10 Andy Goram
Right then welcome to another episode of Sticky from the Inside and this one is going to be just a little bit different.
Maybe it was inevitable, based on what we've all been dealing with at the moment, or I don't know, maybe I've just been lucky to this point, but illness has finally put a crack in my guest pipeline. My guest, my backup guest and my backup backup have all been unable to join me in Sticky Studios for one reason or another and so today, it's just me. So I'm going to take the opportunity to pontificate on a topic that I love talking about and coaching, and mentoring people on, and that is belief. It's something that plays such a huge role in driving great performance, but also plays a massive part in purpose and culture and I want to bring that to life a little bit in this episode if I may.
00:02:00 Andy Goram
And of course, to do that, I want to start with talking about rugby. Not our usual topic, granted. But one that, funnily enough, is linked to my original guest who was due to record this episode with me and who will do so when they're better. So, look out for that, but please bear with me. This podcast hasn't suddenly become a sports pod. It's still very much focused on creating stickier places to work, and it all relates back to belief. So please stay with me. No, it's because of what happened a couple of weekends ago in the Gallagher Premiership final.
00:02:35 Andy Goram
I'm a huge Harlequins fan and rest assured this isn't a gloating episode either, but their unlikely victory in the final, a full nine years since our last, and the manner of that win and the incredible turnaround that's taken place within the team since January, all sits nicely, I think, alongside the topics of culture, purpose, and belief, that I love to talk about and help businesses with.
00:03:02 Andy Goram
So back in January, Quins were languishing around mid-table, going nowhere., after two previous seasons of well, let's just call it consolidating. When out of the blue and seemingly hurriedly, they parted company with the head coach, a guy called Paul Gustard. At first it was reported that he'd been sacked due to results. Later it was reported that he'd had contract disagreements and had been given a better offer to coach in Italy. But one line of reporting seemed to concentrate on a clash of culture and identity between the coach, the club and the players.
00:03:42 Andy Goram
The coach had a pedigree as a defensive thought leader and had been in England Head Coach, Eddie Jones’s, coaching set-up before moving to Quins three years earlier. His focus at Quins had been on discipline and organisation. But recently, it looks as though this was grating on a team who had previously been known for being adventurous. Granted, we hadn't actually won anything for years, but something was clearly jarring. Something somewhere wasn't right about the identity of the club. But even though Gustard’s focus had been on defence, this had been a real weakness throughout the season.
00:04:26 Andy Goram
So, reading between the lines, this conflict of styles and what it was doing to team performance and morale was plain to see on the pitch. The side had always looked tired and devoid of ideas and creativity. They were unable to keep hold of any leads they built and belief was clearly suffering. So, to me at least, it looks like the parting had come down to the club wanting to re-establish its identity and the coach not matching up to that. You might call it an issue of cultural fit, which I know in some circles is seen as a bit of a dirty phrase. But whether you agree with the move or the manner in which it was done is one thing. But the call to part ways because of wanting to get back the club’s soul, its identity for me, is a brave one. And of course, for someone like me who's fully invested in and a strong advocate of pursuing common purpose and cultural alignment, it looks like the right choice. And this is not just about the fact that we won the title, but for me, it's the spirit they've displayed and the words and the actions that are evidence of the positive changes that have taken place since January.
00:05:47 Andy Goram
One man at Quins typifies what's happened in the team, and that is Joe Marler. If you don't know who Joe Marler is, we really don't have time to get too deep into trying to understand the enigma and explain who Joe Marler is. And I'm not even sure if that's possible, but suffice to say he's a character and a Talisman for the club. He's also recently been in the news after publicly speaking up around his issues in dealing with mental health and the need for these things to be spoken more about and for a greater level of support to be given to people suffering with such things.
00:06:27 Andy Goram
On the pitch, he's a divisive character. As a Quins fan, I absolutely love his personality, effort, heart, and commitment to the club. But in all that was going on with this game - the tackles flying in, the free-flowing running, the offloading, the teamwork, everything; I think one of the biggest and for me most powerful moments of the match could easily have been missed by many, and it featured Joe.
00:06:59 Andy Goram
With 10 minutes also to go, Harlequins are losing. Now we've already come back three times in the match so far, and that includes previously coming back from 28-0 down in the semi-final the week before, so you can forgive me for thinking that surely, we couldn't rise up against adversity yet again. But as I sat watching the TV, with Quins about to take a crucial lineout, the coverage honed in on Joe.
00:07:31 Andy Goram
And he was calmly and deliberately repeating one word to his teammates, “Believe.” I know I love this stuff and I'm susceptible more than most to it, but it felt like everything around me slowed down when I saw that happening. It wasn't a panicked plea. It wasn't a desperate, frustrated cry. It looked like a purposeful, strong, confident, deliberate, reassuring message. In the following ten incredible minutes, Quins scored two converted tries, and of course gave up a converted try with three minutes to go (It is Quins after all), and they secured the title. They had played with energy, imagination, confidence, resilience and ultimately with a strong sense of belief.
00:08:35 Andy Goram
In the post-match interview, the Man of the Match, Joan Marler gave, in his usual style of jokes and a humble appraisal of the game, was asked, “So what's changed since January, Joe?” His response says it all for me. He started by saying that so many things had changed and he didn't have time to go over all of it. Comments were made about the level of love and commitment between all the team. But the phrase that put it all into context for me was, “We started to believe in what we're about. In what we want to be.”
00:09:13 Andy Goram
For me, this example typifies the power of culture and the alignment between purpose, identity, and people. In business, you could use the word proposition instead of or alongside identity.
A team that clearly felt uneasy trying to be something they weren't and underperformed as a result, got back to really understanding what they wanted to be. They had a collective belief in that as a team and as individuals. Everyone knew their role and the part they played in delivering that on and off the field. This allowed them to play authentically with confidence and to the best of their ability. In my mind, that message of authenticity is one that we use constantly when helping people become better leaders. Because it's far easier to be something you naturally are than trying to be something you're not.
00:10:09 Andy Goram
Now you might say that that sounds obvious. And it is. But as we've said many times on this podcast, “Common sense doesn't make it common practice.” And I look at the transformation of that Quins side and I think they’re a great example of being true to your identity and playing on the strengths of that, not dwelling on protecting the possible weaknesses of it. The team was being drilled as a defensively tight and organised, disciplined unit. But something wasn't working, and it didn't feel right to the team.
Over the course of the games in the regular season, Quins gave up 77 tries. 77! They also shipped a further 10 in just 2 championship knockout games. Now that is hardly tight, is it?
00:10:58 Andy Goram
But whereas under the previous culture, the style of play and doctrine didn't effectively allow them to react to going behind, the reestablishment of a culture that brought back a swashbuckling spirit of adventure and creativity, clearly released the potential of the whole team and ignited a real sense of belief in the cause. The belief needed actions to ultimately lead them to realise their goals.
00:11:33 Andy Goram
However, it's belief that is the foundation for achieving great things. Belief is the thing that shapes our thoughts, which then defines our actions, which then leads us to our final outcome. And I think it's even more powerful than that. Your belief and conviction heavily influences others. And as leaders, you should never underestimate the impact your show of belief has on other people. That, coupled with your actions, is what starts movements, and those are the things you need when creating effective changes in culture. Just like we've seen with this Harlequins example.
00:12:16 Andy Goram
But it does cut both ways. Empowering beliefs propel your performance on, no doubt. But limiting beliefs will drag your performance down. And this can be particularly true in the face of challenge. The good news is, is that you do have a choice. When you're under pressure, you can rise to the level of your training. When you're under pressure, you can't get by on talent alone. Actually, you won't perform on just that physical training itself, either. You've got to be mentally on it. You've got to be mentally switched onto, in other words, “You must believe, to achieve.”
00:13:08 Andy Goram
Because the mind is what leads the body. To reach your highest level of performance, you first have to believe. Ask any top performers. Top performers win in their mind, first. Joe Marler reminding people to “believe”, is a great example. But believe in what? the team must have been something to believe in first. So let's dig into that a little bit.
00:13:39 Andy Goram
I said that belief provides a platform for great performance, and I believe that your culture provides an environment to cultivate that belief. Now when you do that, the power of belief manifests itself in four demonstrable ways, I think.
Firstly, belief creates a focused vision. It can generate an iron will. It creates and strengthens resilience. And finally, it allows you to free up your full potential.
When you think about that vision, belief can effectively see something that hasn't yet been achieved. It creates a powerful vision of what you want to achieve. Strong enough and it will also show you the work required to achieve that success. I really, really do believe that when you truly believe you can really see that work, too. You’ll picture yourself, doing it and moving forwards towards your vision.
00:14:43 Andy Goram
The clearer that vision is. The more focused believers will be. They won't get sidetracked by things or people that will take them away from following the path to their vision. Belief gives them proper focus. Belief in the vision creates an iron will, which helps you do three things. Number one, to do whatever it takes to do the things that need to be done to realise your vision. Number two to stay committed to doing those things for as long as it takes. And three, to remain resistant to doing those things that won't help you deliver your vision. To cast them aside.
00:15:27 Andy Goram
Will... Will is all about staying power. That's what belief breeds. The commitment to carry on when it gets tough. To not be swayed by yourself and others, and to keep reaffirming and reestablishing that commitment in the face of challenges. Its belief that does that.
00:15:45 Andy Goram
Now to continue the rugby metaphor, we're only at halftime with what belief could do for you, but just think for a second.... How amazing would your results be if you had razor-sharp focus on a vision and an iron will to keep doing whatever it takes to achieve it? Imagine if your whole team had that. What could you all achieve? Imagine if your whole company had that. What incredible things could you accomplish together? Imagine if your company culture did everything it could to enable those things to happen. How good would it feel to work in that sort of environment? I'm sitting here getting goosebumps just thinking about it. So, what else can belief do?
00:16:34 Andy Goram
Let's pop back to that semi-final where Quins were 28-0 down against the league leaders. I'd like to think that their belief in the vision, when up against such a challenge, only served to strengthen their will, resolve, and resilience. Not just cope with it, make it stronger. What was the conversation in that dressing room like at halftime? I would love to know that. Maybe one day I'll get a chance to get Joe on the podcast and find out for real. That would be wicked. But what I suspect happened, was a committed focus on belief. And using their resolve to focus on the things that they needed to do to get back in the game and realise their vision.
00:17:14 Andy Goram
There won't have been any blaming each other or complaining. A focus back on the belief will create a never give in, never give up attitude, no matter what they're facing. And I think that's what allowed them to respond to that. That's what real belief can bring to you.
When you have a mindset of belief, the bumps in the road don't knock you off it. They just make you more determined to stay on it. That goes the same for an individual or team.
00:17:42 Andy Goram
Whatever was said, they went from 28-0 down, to 36-43 winners. Another unbelievable performance built on belief. I'm certain of it. But as well as clarity of vision and iron will and resilience to distractions and uncertainty belief also liberates your full human potential. Belief is the key to your full complement of superpowers being accessible to you. Putting a mental limit on what you're capable of achieving will do just that. Limit your capability. It will limit the access you have to all the physical training, the technical training you've done, because that's what doubt does. It squeezes and inhibits your ability to dig deep into that kitbag. You need full access to your talent and your training and be mentally on it to fully liberate your potential.
00:18:40 Andy Goram
As I've said, probably too many times in this episode already. That's what belief does. For me it comes down to having a culture that is set up to support people to be their authentic best, that rallies them behind a common purpose and gives real clarity of vision and what it will take to get there. This will breed belief. Belief in yourself, your team, and the rest of the organisation.
When a team or organisation has that level of belief, I truly believe anything is possible, absolutely anything.
00:19:19 Andy Goram
So now it's probably time for me to take some of my own medicine and leave you with three sticky notes on the subject of building belief, that you can take away today, to get it going for yourself, your team, and your organisation. So here goes.
00:19:32 Andy Goram
My first sticky note is, well, first you have to have something to believe it. So, simply start with creating that compelling, future vision of success. But be brave and bold with it. Be careful not to limit what can be achieved as you set it.
00:19:48 Andy Goram
Secondly, keep training. Increasing your capability through continual learning, that's got a razor-sharp focus on that vision and the goal, will really build confidence and belief and increase your maximum potential.
00:20:05 Andy Goram
And thirdly, keep talking positively about that vision. Keep it alive. Discard negativity and distractions. Keep mentally switched on it and keep it alive through positive thought, conversation and actions.
00:20:21 Andy Goram
So, there you go, three sticky notes from me, which I hope you'll use to start building a stronger sense of belief in whatever dream, vision, or goal it is you want to achieve. Next time out, I'll be back with a guest to talk more about people, engagement, workplace culture and how to create stickier businesses. In the meantime, you can check out some of the things I've talked about in this episode in a bit more detail by digging into the show notes.
00:20:55 Andy Goram
So, that concludes today's episode. I hope you've enjoyed it, found it interesting and heard something, maybe that will help you become a stickier, more successful business from the inside going forwards.
If you have, please like comment, and subscribe, it really helps.
I'm Andy Goram and you've been listening to the sticky from the Inside podcast. Until next time, thanks for listening.