9 Business Strategies We Can Learn From Hawthorn’s Grand Final Win (Sadly, #7 Is Rarely Done)

I got up at 4.24AM this morning.

I had to get to the MCG to get a seat to watch my beloved Aussie Rule’s team Hawthorn (Hawks) play in the Grand Final.

Whilst they’d finished on top of the Home and Away series, and had won the 2013 Grand Final, the critics had written them off.

“They can’t do it!” the majority hollered, backed up with a myriad of reasons (some plausible, others ridiculous).

Personally, whilst I love the Hawks, I too was a little nervous and started to believe the rhetoric.

Well, we won. By a record margin. Against a superstar team in the Sydney Swans.

But how was this possible?

And what can us motivated business owners learn from such an amazing victory?


Here’s my top nine business strategies we can learn from Hawthorn’s grand final win:

1. Ignore the doubters: In life and in business there will always be those who doubt your decisions. They have their reasons. More often than not, it’s about them, not you. So, listen to what they have to say, politely thank them, then stick to your guns. If Hawthorn had listened to their doubters, they may as well not shown up yesterday.

2. Play as at team: In a winning team, each individual knows exactly what their role is and they execute it with deft accuracy. Every time. If you find yourself doing other people’s work, promptly figure out why this is so, fix it and get back to what you’re there for.

3. Confuse the competition: Without getting all technical on you, the centre bounce of a football game is critical. Successfully clear the ball and you give yourself a great chance of kicking the next goal. Each centre bounce consists of four players from each team, and more often than not, it’s the same four players. But not with Hawthorn, each centre bounce, Hawthorn mixed it up, confusing the Swans so much that they had no idea how to retaliate.

4. Stir things up: I often say business is way too serious and that we need more smiles. In the heat of battle yesterday, Hawthorn’s captain Luke Hodge, kissed Swan’s million dollar man Buddy Franklin on the neck. Yep, kissed him! Why? To stir things up. To get his back up. To play mind games with him. It worked, and whilst it put a smile on the dial of everyone watching, it riled Buddy and put him ever so slightly off his game.

5. Stick to a plan: Hawthorn went in to the Grand Final with a very strict game plan. And were under strict instructions by their coach not to veer from it unless told otherwise. All the work put in to the game plan had been done in the week leading up, so come game day, it was time to simply execute. Not think. Execute.

6. Take no prisoners: The brutality of the football field is no place to make friends. And some would say that neither is the playing field of business. Whilst there’s a time and a place for socialising, the heat of battle isn’t one of them. What was great about yesterday’s game though (as hard fought as it was), once the final siren sounded, players from both sides shook hands, conversed, and I’ve no doubt will catch up in the months to come to reflect on an amazing game.

7. Acknowledge little wins: In business, we far too often forget to celebrate our victories, no matter how small. Instead, we choose to get sucked back in to the busy-ness of business. But in yesterdays’ game, whenever a Hawthorn player achieved even the smallest of wins, such as smothering an opponent’s kick, his team mates would come from everywhere and pat him on the back. When was the last time you stopped and celebrated a small win?

8. Remove emotion: Despite the massive lead up to yesterday’s game, and the fact that there were 99,554 screaming fans inside the MCG, Hawthorn kept a level head and stuck to their plan. When the Swans scored, they reset and went again. When they missed a tackle. Reset. Emotion can cloud our vision, and make us do things without due consideration. Whilst emotion is wonderful tool in marketing communications, in business, it can be deadly.

9. Be humble: Never beat your chest. It’s ugly and can hurt! Not just physically, but also your standing in the business community. Acknowledge and share your wins by all means, don’t be afraid to look and be successful, but do it with humility. People hate a show-off, and you’ll give them fuel and reason to stick the knife in.

Whilst I’ve drawn on Hawthorn’s Grand Final win to illustrate some business success strategies, really we can learn from any high-performing, successful team. Anywhere. In any code.

So, what strategy would you add to the above list? Go ahead and share it below.

4 thoughts on “9 Business Strategies We Can Learn From Hawthorn’s Grand Final Win (Sadly, #7 Is Rarely Done)”

  1. John longmore

    What a great article – very relevant, and great analogies.

    Well written Tim.

  2. Gary McMahon

    Nearly had a heart attack when i saw your comment John. I misread your surname as Longmire… Timbo, even he would agree with your analogies, very appropriate. Now to get onto my blog and start… btw, watch out for Freo next year! 😉

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