Do you want to read a true tale that shows you anything is possible? One that takes you on an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs and leaves you with goose bumps at the end? Then read on…
I was recently connected to Ben Ryan, a world renowned Rugby Sevens Coach who took a gamble from a tweet and coached Fiji’s Rugby Sevens Team to win two Sevens World Series titles and gold at the Rio Olympics 2016 – Fiji’s first Olympic medal. Ben also now has his face on the most wanted Fijian $7 notes and 50 cent coins!
I had not heard of Ben before I was connected with him, so I did what anyone else would do: I Googled. The more I dived in, the more intrigued and amazed I became by his skills, life’s journey and knowledge.
At the end of May 2018, Ben’s book ‘Sevens Heaven: The Beautiful Chaos of Fiji’s Olympic Dream‘ was released. I couldn’t wait and had already pre-ordered his book, so was very excited when it finally arrived in the post – just in time to read it on the aeroplane to New York for Discover Outdoor’s Women In The Outdoors Week.
I pretty much finished it on that 7 hour flight! Wow. Just wow. Not many non-fiction books get me hooked, I usually find it hard to put down books such as Harry Potter, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series, American Gods by Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman’s Book Of Dust. I have been known to read through the night, finish the book at 5 a.m. and then fall asleep.. oops.
However, I couldn’t put Ben’s book down. There were times when I had tears in my eyes and others when I couldn’t stop smiling. At the end, when the Fiji Sevens Team won gold and the President of Fiji gave his talk, goose bumps appeared up and down my arms.
Ben takes you with him on his whirlwind 3 year adventure with the Fiji’s Rugby Sevens Team. He talks to you as if you’re sitting across from him in a cafe in Soho, London enjoying a coffee together (something I’m looking forward to doing with him in July!).
In the story, Ben is vulnerable, from talking about his own fears, the strains placed on his marriage and how the break down of his friendship with his childhood best friend continues to impact him. I found this element of the story refreshing, incredibly inspiring to read and it really drew you in.
Ben balances this by showing you where his strengths lie, his empathy and compassion towards his team and Fiji, and how he gives his all into this beautiful Fijian sevens team and nation.
He weaves into the story, the background and culture of each of his team members, which enables you to root for them during their training and key matches, when they muck up and succeed, and during the tough selection of the Olympic team. Although you know they win gold, you’re still there at Rio in the stands cheering them on.
You feel humbled by their journey to success, as they’ve overcome so much adversity and empowered to change your mindset to the Fijian philosophy; if the gods have made it, then it will be. They let the things go they cannot control quickly and act on things that they can change with love, energy and positivity.
One of my favourite anecdotes Ben regales, which I believe represents the beauty of this Fijian team, is that during an emergency on their flight, the flight attendants were called to help a sick passenger and the Fiji Sevens rugby team keen to help out, served food and drinks to the other passengers. Read a snippet here.
If you’re interested in how to cultivate a high performing team, then this story is for you too! Ben gives you a glimpse into what great leadership involves and looks like. This story makes you start to think differently, you begin to question long held beliefs, you feel motivated to discover the right questions to uncover the next level of performance – in your life and in your team’s.
A book rarely takes me on an emotional journey such as Ben’s and although non- fiction is my preferred choice, few have the ability to be addictive like Ben’s.
If you’re still not convinced watch this amazing video by HSBC on the journey with his team and the nation.
Or if you’ve read the book and want to dive deeper into the story, you’re going to love this film!