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Winning by Sir Clive Woodward is as much a self-development book as it is autobiography, following the life of this incredibly driven focused individual from his youth through playing Rugby for England and being one of the only Poms to play in Australia through to the amazing England World Cup win in Australia, this book covers all of these focusing on what it took to achieve some amazing feats.
Sir Clive's style is very persuasive, as it must have been as a coach, he is methodical in explaining what he expected of the England players and how his own ideals clashed with the English methodology of the time, he spends chapters talking about motivation, positivity and strong team ethics, this book is effective and challenging, Woodward went to Israel to meet scientists who could help his team understand their personalities better, he personally organised sponsorship of the England team by a computer firm in exchange for laptops with development programs for each player, he really does everything he can to improve the team and it is exciting despite the management speak used.
Woodward talks about using business techniques to manage sportspeople and his success proves it can work, he is glowing in the praise of the players who played for him and scathing in his criticism of individuals who undermined the process. One thing I thoroughly enjoyed was the chapters about his life living and working in Australia, too often we are mentally cowed by our Antipodean cousins strong mentality and confidence and he pushes through all of this and takes them on at their own game, this is inspirational and must have inspired confidence in the players having a manager who wasn't afraid of the press or rivals but was prepared to take them on face to face.
The story of the World Cup tournament isn't long enough and the anecdotes don't come thick and fast, the winning moment does bring a proud tear to the eye of any England fan but overall this book is very much about achieving your goals through preparation and hard work rather than some whimsical, romantic underdog story.
Woodward comes across well, although I would have liked a section on his abject failure as Lions coach to discover what happened there, I would also liked to have read more about the team and players involved in the England squad that he managed, too often stories relate to people behind the scenes, but this in itself is interesting and shows the true team mentality of the squad.
Woodward admits a lot of his errors during the book which is very honest, at times it does feel as though he rides roughshod over others, but heck we have so few true winners in English sport, maybe we need a little bit more of that.
Overall this is a story of preparation and achieving your goals, it is inspirational on the sporting perspective but also as an analogy for business or life more generally, it is available on Amazon Marketplace for 1p (plus postage), I re-read this in under a day and while the early days are interesting, for me the story kicks into life from playing time in Australia through to the World Cup final, one particular highlight is the awesome Australian newspaper article printed fully, which had me laughing out loud.
Motivational, inspiring and easy to relate to, this is a superior book about management, inspired more by Vince Lombardi than Barry Fry, I would recommend it to all Rugby fans and anyone who needs a kick up the backside to follow their dreams.