Heyneke Meyer was still at primary school when he told a teacher that he would one day become the Springbok head coach. Rather than encouraging the youngster, he was told this was a pipe dream.
This discouragement continued at university, but against advice to the contrary, he studied sports management, education, and, “just about everything I believed was necessary for me to realize my ultimate goal of coaching my country. When my time came, and it would, I had to be ready. But few people believed in me.”
Unknowingly, his coaching career would evolve along seven key principles of leadership, and these would only become apparent to him after experiencing the ebbs and flows of what is an extremely uncertain career choice.
In 1999, in his first “major” coaching job, he led the minnow SWD Eagles-side to their first Currie Cup Play-offs. In the same year, Nick Mallet appointed him as the Springboks’ forwards coach. He was 32 years old, and his dream was taking shape.
But by the time he turned 34, Meyer had twice been fired as the head coach of a Super Rugby side. However, with the support of only a handful of rugby administrators, he would not only go on the turn the struggling Blue Bulls around, winning four Currie Cupsin five years, but he also became the first coach to lead a South African Super Rugby side victory in 2007; the first of three titles in four years.
In Pretoria, Meyer built a dynasty, making the Bulls the envy of just about every other major rugby club and franchise in the world.
He was appointed Springbok head coach in 2012. This was his dream, but not yet the end goal. It was merely a departure. On this journey, he would experience incredible highs, but also lows. All the while, his belief in his now established seven principles of leadership remained.
In his own words: My coaching journey has been rewarding, but I’ve never taken the road of least resistance. I’ve had more adversaries than supporters in my life. In my career as head coach, I have come to believe in seven key principles of leadership that kept the ship on course in calm and stormy seas. These have led me into head-on confrontations with individuals, who doubted my methods and values, but for almost three decades, these seven principles have always served my teams well. This book is not about me. I don’t enjoy the limelight or talking about myself. This book is about the seven universal principles of leadership and life that I have been fortunate enough to experience along my own journey. If I achieve nothing else in life, these are the seven principles I would like to instill in my two sons. As it has done for me, 7 –My Notes on Leadership and Life, will serve as a map and compass for anyone seeking hope, direction and fulfillment in roles of leadership, be they corporate executives, SME business owners, public servants, teachers, coaches