Sweep the Sheds

Tuesday, February 06, 2018 - By: Bud Patel - Head of School

Like many of you, I receive countless “must read” articles that, for the most part, I peruse during intermittent quiet moments. Recently, one passed across my screen that held me for some time.

As I shared with the students at our most recent assembly, to put it kindly, I’m not a strong swimmer; in fact, I sink like a stone. The pinnacle of my aquatics career was earning my “Beginners Badge” in Grade 2 PE – I could tread water with the best of them! After that, though, things began to bottom out – literally.

Anyway, the article commented on the observations that a swimming coach had on the last 10 minutes of practice. He recognized that most of the team worked on mastering important techniques or pushed themselves to exhaustion. Others, however, hurriedly made their way to the hot tub or change room with comments like, “My Mom is waiting for me” or “I need to send this text.”

Part of the end of practice routine was to clean up the pool deck and bring in the lane ropes. Not fun tasks, but someone has to ensure things were tidied up for the next set of users. Guess which group volunteered without hesitation to perform these tasks – got it! This coach noted that performance – particularly, character-wise - of those that helped at the end was significantly better than those that headed for the exits.

In the article, he made reference to the famous New Zealand All Blacks – the three-time Rugby World Cup winners. With a test match winning percentage in the 80s, a consistent #1 world ranking, and an intimidating Haka, it is easy to be awestruck by this team.

The roots of their success, however, are simple. They have created a set of 15 principles that guide everything they do – both on and off the field. The first one is notable – Sweep the Sheds. These famous, wealthy, and revered professional athletes, one by one, take turns grabbing a broom and sweeping their change room clean after practice – not the custodian, coach or intern – the players do it. Their team has a flat hierarchy, a fierce sense of humility, and it stamps out any form of entitlement.

Successful teams, organizations, schools, and people understand that culture will always beat out talent and luck. At Brentwood, while not perfect, I’m proud to say that our culture is built on this one-for-all and all-for-one community mindset. From Head of School to Grade 8, we all have and take our responsibilities – however menial – seriously.


So if you want to win – Sweep the Sheds!

De Manu in Manum,

Bud Patel

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