The New Zealand All Blacks is the most successful rugby franchise of all time. They have a legacy that rivals the great teams in nearly every other sport, from the San Antonio Spurs to the New England Patriots to the US Women’s National Soccer Team. How have they done this?
By being tough, of course. By being extremely talented, obviously. But there is a lesser known and counter-intuitive element to their success as well: they clean up after themselves. James Kerr portrays the team tidying up the locker room after a game in his book, Legacy:
“Sweeping the sheds.
Doing it properly.
So no one else has to.
Because no one looks after the All Blacks.
The All Blacks look after themselves.”
It’s so easy to clean up after your kids—you’re older, smarter and better at it. It’s easy to make them do it—after all, you’re bigger, stronger, and have all the money. Both of these approaches miss the point. You don’t want it to be compulsory, you want it to be compelling.
The point is for them to look after themselves, and to find pride and satisfaction in that. Cleaning up after yourself isn’t just a chore. It’s a statement of priority. It’s an illustration of who you are. How we do anything is how we do everything, is the lesson parents have to pass along to their kids. Leaving a mess isn’t just a mess—it shows that you’re a mess.
Sweeping the sheds is important. Being neat and clean and responsible is essential. Don’t do it for them. Don’t bully them about it. Teach them why it matters.