I know this will be divisive; come at me. I grew up in North Queensland with just 2 channels so my summers were about Countdown and cricket telecasts. My parents adored Rod Marsh; I admired Steve Waugh. Steve’s stalwart captaincy delivered some of the most compelling lessons in determination I’ve ever seen.
Steve only captained Australia from 1999 to 2004 but he was the most “capped” Test cricket player in history until 2010 and he demonstrated a lot of leadership traits. He’s one of only 12 players to score over 10,000 Test runs and he led Australia to 15 of 16 consecutive Test wins. He was named Australian of the Year in 2004 and is named one of 100 living treasures by the National Trust of Australia.
My abiding memory was watching him bat in the 1995 Test against the West Indies, who had not lost to Australia at home since 1973. Waugh went in to bat for 9 solid hours and was the last man out, after scoring a double century. It was ultimately a crushing victory to Australia and he was silent at its end. Apparently, according to team mates and commentators, he simply made up his mind to bat and so he did.
Fast forward years later to Shane Warne bagging Steve Waugh during a reality TV show, for being “selfish”, in Shane’s opinion. I don’t have enough time, space or care factor to deal with that but there is a big difference there in character and judgement – sporting proficiency is one thing and leadership is another.
Some leaders are charismatic, some are expert and some lead by doing. The starstruck kid I was only felt affirmed when I saw Steve Waugh speak and his advice stuck – “Don’t get bitter, get better” he said about refocusing on the lessons and not the competition; and that if you’re going to make it a mistake, be original – don’t repeat one that someone else has already made. Use your own judgement, go out on a limb and use your gut to decide what to risk. There was famously a behind the scenes team focus on hair looks in the Aussie team (you know who I’m talking about again, right) vs. the guys who got the job done – two camps, caring about gel or gelling. Guess who I’m backing.
Please feel welcome to reply to me in the comments, I love your feedback.