I’ve got AFL on TV and I’m immersed in a book detailing the seige of Malta in 1565. It’s an oddly palatable combination. Like salted caramel, or chilli chocolate.
Both are strong examples of the power of teamwork, elite athleticism, fanaticism, strategic leadership and faith.
I’m reading the book because I want to better understand the roots of the organisation for which I work.
I’m watching the footy because it’s finals. Port Power are playing and I can’t quite shake my South Australian, AFL-drenched childhood.
Where we’ve come from influences us.
I know enough about where my organisation has come from to want to know more. I want to understand the success and failures of our organisational ancestors. I want to learn from the voices of the past and apply those lessons to the now and the future.
I know enough about influence to know the black-and-white Port Adelaide supporting world of my childhood is etched in my psyche. I invested much of my 20s pretending AFL didn’t exist, so the emotional commitment only comes back when Port Power are winning.
The fundamentals of success and teamwork are always there though, and they are echoed in the actions of the besieged and besiegers in Malta in the sixteenth century.
Commitment to a cause isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it.
Teams are greater than the sum of their parts.
Teams need faithful, sometimes fanatical supporters.
Teams need a passionate commitment to their goal or cause, even in the face of certain defeat.
How a team celebrates victory is as important as how they accept defeat.
Finally – and this one is not mirrored in my history book – when children are consistently exposed to AFL, no matter how hard they try to shake it off as adults, they can never truly be free.
Which may not be such a bad thing after all.