Start Again: The Richie McCaw approach to Continuous Professional Development

Richie McCaw. For those not in the know, he is about as close you will ever get to perfection in terms of his expertise (Rugby Union), consistently performing above and beyond expectations for one of the industries highest performing organisations (The New Zealand All Blacks). Truly, he can be said to be someone who has made people look at the same role they fill within their own team (Number 7/flanker/wing forward/all-round nuisance) and how they can apply what McCaw has taught them to reach a higher level of performance.

But how does he do it? Simples – he starts again.

English: Richie McCaw, New Zealand rugby union...
The name’s McCaw, Richie ‘Im a Rugby God’ McCaw (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To explain further, it was a recent interview that McCaw gave in the UK to the Guardian (the All Blacks are touring Europe at the moment) to promote his upcoming book and generally talk about this career that got me on to this.

McCaw talks about how each time before a game he would take out his notebook and write down ‘Start Again’ at the top of the page, then a few key points for him to implement over the course of the afternoon to get the results that he wanted.

He would then end it by adding ‘G.A.B’, standing for ‘Greatest All Blacks’ – a reminder of those who had come before him in the role and how they performed, as well as the company he wanted to be considered when he looked back on his career.

Notice the structure there? Lets take a closer look:

  • ‘Start Again’: Forget what has gone before, move forward from it. You are beginning a new journey.
  • Key points for the day: What is needed to affect the present; what challenges immediately lay ahead. Clear instructions to follow for the immediate future.
  • G.A.B: If any further motivation was needed, remember previous high performers and set out the challenge in your own mind. The rewards for me are vast should I continue performing at such a level, but remember who went before. I have very high standards to be aspire to.

It is a simple, clear approach which, most times in his career, has worked out for McCaw. Not many can say they have achieved what he has in his career (have to give a mention to this guy, who kinda has) and on such an enduring basis. Truly someone to tip your hat too – though I’m not sure if this takes artistic licence a bit too far in terms of compliments!

But never mind all-conquering international rugby stars – what about you? Organisations are always interested in continuous improvement and development, what are you doing to support this?

How can you, like Richie, start again?

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