It has been a tough week for all those who have known Dr. Ken Ravizza, a pioneer and legend in Sport Psychology and the mental game of baseball, as we said goodbye to our friend and colleague last week. UpsideDown Performance had a special relationship with Ken, as Angie was his graduate student and we all spent time learning from and utilizing Ken’s mental game methods. While we had originally planned to stick with a baseball and softball theme for the summer, we thought it more fitting instead to honor Ken and the legacy he left with his students, athletes, coaches, and honestly just about every person he came in contact with. With that said, for our next blog series, we are going to review the book Legacy: What the All Blacks can Teach us About the Business of Life by James Kerr. And, we would like to dedicate this blog series to Dr. Ken Ravizza, who left a legacy that will continue to influence his followers for years to come.
The All-Blacks are New Zealand’s national rugby team. After a winning match, after the post-game talks, after the team bonding in the shed (locker room), that is when you find out just what it means to be a New Zealand All Black. “This is when something happens that you might not expect. Two of the senior players – one an international player of the year, twice – each pick up a long-handled broom and start to sweep the sheds.” What makes the All Blacks different than most other teams across sport, level, and country? Their senior leaders and best players clean up after the games. Why on earth would the leaders hang back for such a mundane task, when the rookies could easily be ordered to do it? The All Blacks believe that culture is driven from within and their senior leaders must model the character they want to see exhibited by all members of the team. “Sweeping the sheds” has become an incredible example for any performer or leader in any field Be the person who models the character of championship performance all the time, even after the game when others are celebrating.
In his teaching and mentorship, Ken constantly focused on character over results. As a master’s student, Ken had me spend my entire first year of graduate school observing a team. I didn’t get to talk to any individuals or the team until I spent the time learning and understanding both the sport and the field of sport psychology. At the time, I was an eager student who wanted to do, not watch. But I also saw the lesson and the value in “putting my hay in the barn”, as Ken would say, to prepare me to be an effective consultant. One of the biggest lessons I learned was that ‘being around’ and learning during both good times and bad times was more important than ‘saying the right thing’. From a character perspective, finding value in observation helped me to prioritize what I can learn from others instead of what I know and can teach to them. Ultimately, I became a better consultant because of this.
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