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This time of year always makes me reminiscent. With all the holiday time spent with family and the New Year approaching, I like to look around at what I’ve accomplished. And look back at my life to think about how I got to where I am. Your next two issues will be special—one piece in two parts. I’ll discuss something near and dear to me; something that’s helped me to become not only the financial success that I am today, but the man I am as a whole.
This is one thing I’ve known for a long time…
Life is a team sport. School is not.
When I was in school, at test time, I always sat next to the smartest girl in class. I asked for help on tests. The problem is that asking for help in school is called “cheating.” Which is why I was often in the principal’s office. I kept asking for help.
My poor dad (my real dad) was the head of education for the State of Hawaii. When I was in elementary school, he showed me his Teacher’s Manual, to educate me on the definition of cheating. The manual’s definition was clear: “giving aid to someone on an individual assignment.” To me, giving someone aid sounded like a good thing. But my father explained that the purpose of tests was to test each student’s individual aptitude. And I still don’t understand the point. Why fail alone when you can succeed together? But one thing is obvious: in school, giving aid to someone who needs it is a bad thing.
My rich dad, my best friend’s father and a man who stopped going to school at 13 because his father died, “cheated” constantly. Rather than go to school, rich dad took over the family business, and “cheated” his was to success as an entrepreneur and a real estate investor. His education came from his family’s bookkeeper, accountant, attorney, banker, business managers, and employees. When faced with business problems, my rich dad learned to ask for help.
My poor dad, on the other hand, never asked for help, because—in his world—asking for help was cheating. That is why my dad died a poor man.
My rich dad taught his son and me to ask for help when solving life, business, and investment problems. That is why my rich dad died a very rich man, despite not attending school past the age of 13.
My poor dad, a government employee, had no need for bookkeepers, accountants, or attorneys. As a government employee, he was protected from the real world of business.
Rich dad, a true entrepreneur, learned early to count on his team from the real world of business. Rich dad’s real-life education came from his professional advisors, as well as his employees, who helped him take the “tests” of the real world.
Poor dad was not a team player. He did not have a team. He was the smartest person on his team.
Rich dad was a team player. He had a great team. And, most importantly, he was not the smartest person on his team.
Trying New Things
As a kid growing up in Hawaii, I played baseball, football, and surfed. I liked baseball and football, but I was passionate about surfing. So it isn’t surprising that I was a better surfer than I was a baseball or football player.
All through high school and college, I played baseball and football. I loved both games, I loved my teams, but I was not passionate about those sports.
In 1969, the Vietnam War was still being fought, so after graduation, I volunteered for the U.S. Marine Corps and was sent to Pensacola, Florida for Navy Flight School.
The Navy had a football team. It was nearly semi-pro. For example, the quarterback for the Navy team was Roger Staubach, who later became a Dallas Cowboys’ superstar.
My flight school roommate, Bruce, was a tight end from the Naval Academy. He had played with Roger at the Naval Academy. Bruce did not want to receive any passes from Roger. According to Bruce, Staubach threw the football so hard that he “put a hole in his chest.”
One day, after a particularly grueling practice, Bruce said to me, “Football is no longer fun. The players trying out for the Navy team are some of the best-of-the-best from colleges and universities all across America. We are out of our league.”
I had to agree with Bruce. Football was no longer fun. It seemed as though we were trying out for a professional football team.
One night after football practice, while we were having a beer, out of nowhere, Bruce said, “Let’s go play rugby.”
“What’s rugby?” I asked. The year was 1969, and rugby, an English game, was not well-known in America.
“I don’t know, sort of like football” said Bruce, “but I’ve heard rugby players drink a lot of beer.”
That was all I needed. I was in.
A few days later, Bruce and I wandered onto a vacant field and joined the Navy rugby team. Although I had never played the game, the moment I “packed down” in the “scrum,” I was at home. It was mystical. I knew—I knew—the game. It was as if I had played the game all my life.
Since that day in Florida, my passion for the game of rugby has carried me all over the world, playing all across America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and England. I have been a spectator at every Rugby World Cup and will attend the next World Cup in Japan in 2019.
I had found my game, a team sport that I was passionate about.
Why Rugby Players Are Different
Rugby football originated in 1895 at Rugby School, in Warwickshire, England. The genesis of rugby occurred when a soccer player, frustrated with the game of soccer, picked up the soccer ball and ran with it. Immediately, the opposing team ran after him and, when they tried to tackle him, the rule- breaking soccer player broke the rules again and passed the ball backwards, to a team member, who then also passed the ball backwards. Once tackled, a “loose ruck” or “maul” was formed over the ball, the ball came out, was passed backwards… and the game of rugby was born.
Rugby, soccer, and American football are all called football. These three football games all originated from soccer. There are also rugby league, Irish football, and Australian football, all similar yet very different and with different rules of play.
Soccer is the most popular of all football games. I’ve played soccer but did not like it as much as rugby. It did not make sense that in playing “football,” I was not allowed to tackle or hit other players.
For decades, there was an unspoken rule that rugby was played by rich, educated white “school boys,” boys who attended private boarding schools. Soccer, by contrast, was played by the masses.
Rugby Headed a Nation
In 1995 South Africa, a country still torn apart by apartheid, rugby was generally played by white men. Soccer played by black men.
In 1995, after being imprisoned for 27 years for his views on apartheid, Nelson Mandela emerged from prison and was elected President of South Africa. One year after being elected, Mandela united a country torn apart—black vs. white, rich vs. poor—using not the game of the oppressed, but of the oppressors. A rich white man’s game. The game of rugby.
In 1995, Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest world leaders in history, brought decades of horrific racial division together in hosting the 1995 Rugby World Cup. In my opinion, it was a dangerous, courageous and brilliant decision.
When the Springboks, South Africa’s now racially-integrated national team, beat the world’s greatest rugby teams for the championship—including New Zealand’s All Blacks, which is the team if you know anything about rugby—the world took notice and South Africa was transformed. Apartheid was officially over, and the process of uniting the country could begin.
The movie Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, tells the story of this world-transforming sport and sporting event.
In 1995, Mandela and rugby united the world. It makes me wonder where the next Nelson Mandela and rugby revolution is today? We need them.
In the information age, we’re seeing everything all at once and all the time. And when you have a president as polarizing as Trump, and he’s all that anyone’s ever talking about, it’s not a marvel that we feel like our country has never been more divided. I can only hope we have our own rugby revolution soon.
In tomorrow’s issue, I will get into more about how the understanding of my journey with rugby can inform yours. You need to find your game to find success. Sometimes that success comes as a tangent to a deeper understanding you get from something else. I would never have achieved the wealth and success I have in business without the transformational experience of rugby.
We’ll talk more tomorrow about how you can do the same.
Editor, Rich Dad Poor Dad Daily
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