England Rugby: Sir Clive Woodward's three 'non-negotiables'

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England rugby legend Sir Clive Woodward

As England look to defend their Six Nations crown, memories of the 2003 Rugby World Cup inevitably linger in the background. 

The Red and Whites may have a completely different squad and head coach to 18 years ago, but the triumph over fellow finalists Australia in their own back yard remains a high point for English rugby. 

Having transitioned England from their amateur days into world champions, Sir Clive Woodward remains widely regarded as the ultimate inspiration behind the glory down under - not that his achievements have been limited to the world of rugby. 

Indeed, Sir Clive also has a strong track record as a highly successful businessman and even turned his skills to football, working as a Performance Director and then the Director of Football at Southampton. 

An incredibly knowledgeable and well-rounded man then, and back in November 2020 Woodward willingly shared his wisdom with Jake Humphrey on the High Performance Podcast.

After running through the highs and lows of his career across the various industries he's worked in and explaining his belief in the transferability of many of the skills he acquired, the former Lions head coach also revealed his three non-negotiables. 

These are three qualities everybody he works with must possess or three rules they're all prepared to abide by, with no room for exceptions. Here, GIVEMESPORT takes a deeper look at Woodward's non-negotiables...

England rugby legend Sir Clive Woodward

1. Being teachable

An interesting quality that often gets overlooked. Sometimes it's not a question of how good your teacher is, but how equipped and ready you are to learn. 

Woodward places massive importance on constantly acquiring new knowledge and applying a process he calls 3D learning: Discover - obtaining information. Distil - reduce that information down to four or five key points. Do - put what you've learned into action. 

His first non-negotiable is being willing to follow that process with "relentless learning". 

2. Attitude

It may sound obvious but very few sportsmen would dispute that attitude is of equal if not superior importance to natural talent and ability, and Sir Clive places key emphasis on it as well. 

He breaks attitude down into ten specific areas and while the 65-year-old doesn't divulge into every single one of them, he gives punctuality as a key example. 

3. Handling pressure

Considering his England side won the World Cup by way of a Jonny Wilkinson drop goal in the last minute of extra time, it's hardly surprising that Woodward holds an ability to handle pressure in such high regard. 

But Woodward has a slightly different approach than simply insisting upon having nerves of steel - he defines pressure as looking ahead and essentially preparing for difficult situations on the horizon. 

He said: "Pressure is all about trying to work out what's going to happen in the future, because then if it happens you can deal with the pressure about it. So, it's actually thinking about the future and how we're doing things." 

Of course, following these three principles won't make you the next Sir Clive Woodward. But they're nonetheless important lessons that can be transitioned into your everyday and professional life, giving yourself the platform to achieve high performance in your desired field. 

For more incredibly insightful interviews with elite sportsmen, women and entrepreneurs, make sure you subscribe to the High Performance Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-high-performance-podcast/id1500444735

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