The Irish rugby team is at the centre of a nation's attention at the moment and with good reason. While we'll obviously be cheering them on over the next few weeks, the World Cup also offers us the opportunity to reflect on the success of Joe Schmidt's side.
We decided to take a step back and look at the factors which have gotten Irish rugby to where they are today, and pick out the lessons that are useful in every walk of life.
Focus on the process
As Jamie Heaslip recently told Jarlath Regan on his An Irishman Abroad podcast, setting goals is obviously important but what's really essential is concentrating on the steps you're going to take to work towards those goals.
I never think of the outcome. Although I want to win, I never worry about the outcome. I worry more about the process.
You can't control the outcome. However I can control how I play. I can control how I effect the team.
Once you've done everything in your power to perfect those processes, then you can have the peace of mind of knowing you have fulfilled you potential.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
It's funny how it is taken as a given that a professional sports star needs to be coached, yet we don't expect the same in the conventional workplace or at home.
Listen, learn and take all feedback on board.
— Bord Gáis Energy (@BordGaisEnergy) September 24, 2015
Don't forget your values
The Connacht rugby team greet each other with a secret handshake which has five different moves to it. These moves represent the five counties of Connacht that they represent every time they step out on the pitch.
If you always keep the values you hold dear in the back of your mind then it will guide your actions in the right way.
You have to put in the hard yards
A couple of weeks ago, Alan Quinlan spoke to Off The Ball about the impact the likes of Donncha O'Callaghan made at Munster. Quinlan heaped praise on O'Callaghan and like-minded players in the set-up who were relentless in their drive for excellence.
He credits them with changing the mindset of every player, including 'old school' lads like himself. No stone was left unturned and nobody shied away from putting in the extra work.
You could have no game at the weekend and you'd get a text message off O'Connell or Wally for the Limerick based guys: 'Who wants to go in and do a bit of extra fitness training on Saturday morning?'
You'd think 'Ah Jesus. It's been a tough week. I want to relax and stay in bed.' But then you'd think 'OK I'm going to miss a trick here. The boys are going to be in doing it.'
And then suddenly you'd seven or eight guys down in UL on Saturday morning doing a hard session.
Drive for that one percent
Remember we talked about the perfecting the process? Rob Kearney is doing everything his can to perfect his process. So much so that he took part in a nine month leadership training programme called 'Be Your Best' earlier this year.
Why did he do it? He explained to the Irish Times' Róisín Ingle:
The margins at the moment between people at high levels in sport or high levels in business are just getting smaller and smaller and smaller. If I can improve myself even by that 1 per cent then I will improve my own performance . . . and then you are adding more to the team, which is the primary goal when you go out to play at the weekend.
Within the same great interview, Kearney revealed that the Irish players were being made practice mindfulness meditation. Again, that drive to perfect the process:
It was compulsory and very strongly advised and the uptake was very good. There were a lot of NFL teams doing it and they got very good results. It’s all about trying to get the edge on the competition.
The importance of play
A huge aspect that often gets overlooked, the Irish team seem well aware of the importance of switching off. It is essential to take the time away from everything. Not only does it give you a chance to refresh the batteries but it can also be beneficial in helping you think with a clear mind.