Thought Leadership, Prince Harry and the Invictus Games
Are you the master of your fate? Are you the Captain of your soul?
As Small Business owners and thought leaders, it is easy to be tossed about on a choppy ocean of circumstance, rather than chart our course. But we do have a choice to really connect with our purpose, overcome obstacles and ask for help when needed.
We can be masters of our fate, in the words of William Ernest Henly who wrote the poem Invictus. It is no coincidence that this poem inspired Nelson Mandela in the dark 27 years of his imprisonment and that he chose to give it to the Captain of the South African rugby team, Francois Pienaar, as was famously captured in the movie of the same name.
This year, 130 years after the poem was written and more than two decades after Mandela gave Pienaar the poem, Invictus Games fever gripped Sydney, Australia and the world. The Games, Prince Harry’s brainchild, welcomed 500 ex-servicewomen and men (and their families) to Sydney. Each participant had been damaged in some way, emotionally or physically, and the games played a powerful part in their healing.
We learnt of stories of courage and determination, strength and tenacity, camaraderie and connection as the participants of the games overcame incredible barriers to compete. Whatever we think of wars and armies, every story was moving and thought-provoking, and left its mark.
I was fascinated by Prince Harry, this young man who showed such leadership and crafted his words at the Opening and Closing ceremonies with such care. His thought leadership is an inspiration. His vision of the Games has already been tried and tested in London, Orlando and Toronto, but his message becomes more honed each time. The impact of his words and the power of the Games themselves continue to grow.
I asked myself, “What can we learn as thought leaders and business owners?”
We can learn from Prince Harry about crafting messages, about integrity, and about delivery.
I listened to the opening and closing speeches through two lenses.
The first was through my philosophy of a Triple Win:
A Triple Win is a win for you, those around you and the world, with benefits for and contributions by all. Every piece of Prince Harry’s message was about the wins for the ex-servicemen and women, for their families, and for the rest of us. He used every opportunity to emphasise this.
The second was through what I call the Three Keys to Wisdom:The three keys to wisdom are clarity, confidence and commitment. They unlock our ability to connect with our Mentor Within, something I explain in my book, The Mentor Within:
- Clarity – Prince Harry was crystal clear about his message, with a call to action for each one of the competitors and the rest of us to become the captain of our souls.
- Confidence – Humble as he was, he was confident about the impact of this work. He instilled confidence in everyone – in the participants, in their families, and in each of us who were watching. By the end of his speeches, we were ready to act.
- Commitment – Prince Harry’s commitment to his vision is absolute. He called on the audience throughout Australia and the world to take responsibility for strengthening the message and making a commitment to the outcome.
If you listen carefully to price Harry’s opening and closing speeches, you will notice he was calling every one of us to action.
He invited the participants, the families, and the rest of us to be part of the ‘Invictus Generation’.
In his opening speech Prince Harry said:
“We have learned to reject pessimism and cynicism. We have allowed ourselves to be inspired. And we have shared in moments of hope, joy, and triumph that have served as an antidote to the narrative of division and despair we too often allow to define our era.
So when all of you compete over the next week, remember that you do so, not just for yourselves; not just for your families; not just for your nations.
You are competing with different flags on your chest, but you are competing together for one Invictus Generation.
You are the unconquered generation. You are the optimistic generation. You are the new generation of service, and you are the role models to us all.
And you are going to put on one hell of a show over the next week.
Now before I close, I want to say something directly to our hosts, the people of Australia …”
And then he called us to action:
“It’s your job to cheer them on and share their stories. It’s your privilege to watch in the stands or with your friends and families around the television. It’s your responsibility to make sure your children know how amazing these guys and girls really are.
Be inspired. Get excited. Allow the example of service and determination you will see, to change something big or small in your own lives.
Show the world what Game On, Down Under really means.”
A week later when Prince Harry closed the games, he embedded his message with these words:
“They are men and women who have confronted a challenge and overcome it. They are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. And with the help of their friends and families, they have exceeded every expectation.
That is something we can all aspire to. You do not have to be a veteran who has fought back from injury to be inspired by the Invictus example.
You can be a teacher or a doctor, a mum or a dad, a child or a grandparent, a farmer, a plumber, a lawyer, or a CEO. Or anything at all.
You can identify something in your own life that you want to change for the better. And you can let the men and women of the Invictus Games remind you that no challenge is too difficult to overcome.”
For those of us business owners who seek to inspire, let us remember these lessons.
And if we want to emulate this amazing young leader, consider how effectively he delivered his message. He was:
- Challenging, but from a place of humility.
- Clear, with actions you can choose to take.
- Easy to relate to, for everyone.
The Invictus invitation stands for each of us:
Be the master of my fate.
I am the captain of my soul.