Ollie Phillips | Sevens Rugby Legend

England Sevens Captain and renowned rugby speaker Ollie Phillips is the most successful Sevens Captain in recent British history, with a career covering more than a decade Phillips is known for his position as a winger or fullback. Ollie Phillips, who plays for both Stade Français and the England Sevens team, has competed in twenty World Series games and scored almost fifty tries for his country. He has worked as a rugby speaker for the England Sevens team since joining and more recently spent some time acting as a rugby speaker for Gloucester Rugby after spending six months with the club between January and July 2012.

As a rugby speaker and player Ollie Phillips is known for his leadership and ability to inspire, his tenure as Captain is one of the most successful to have ever been enjoyed by an England Sevens Captain. With Phillips at the helm the England team have participated in numerous World Sevens Series and Sevens World Cups and boast three Series victories and six Series finals.

Outside his work as an England player and rugby speaker Ollie Phillips has played for four different domestic clubs, including the infamous Harlequins and the Newcastle Falcons. As a domestic player, Ollie has enjoyed success with all four of his previous teams, participating in 3 Heineken Cups and a European Cup Final. Phillips was also voted 2011’s Best Overseas Player and has worked prolifically around the world as a rugby speaker and sports advocate.

Ollie Phillips

What does success mean to me and has my definition changed over the years? | The answer to the second part of that question – 100%. Makes you think, when I played for England at rugby, or when I was trying to play rugby, that winning was the only thing that mattered. And now I’ve sort of gotten a bit older, greyer, long in the tooth, and done a few more things. You know, I think that definition of success is not limited solely to winning at all costs. Knowing that, I think I enjoy now much more the experience of the process and I’m ultimately less worried about the outcome. Obviously, I’m a competitive being. I want to go out and achieve things and set world records et cetera, et cetera. But it’s not necessarily about that now. All of the challenges I’ve done post rugby, all of the world records that I’ve set post rugby, have all been set with people with teams. And the focus and the memories, if you like, for me have been much more around the experience and the memory of what we did as a collective rather than the shiny certificate or the outcome. So it’s all about, for me, the experience, the people, the journey, if you like, that makes things so special and that’s ultimately what success means to me.

What drives me? | I love the thought of discovering new things all the time. I just get bored if I’m doing the same thing over and over and over again. So I love the opportunity of finding something new, learning something new, exploring somewhere new, meeting somebody new. That really excites me because the world is such a big, broad, diverse, and different place. I think on a personal level now is my family, my wife, my two children. They have redefined my purpose in life. But I think I love the thought that you’re here for a good time not for a long time so you might as well go out there and really give it everything, and hopefully the legacy you leave, leaves the world a better place than when you came into it.

What is my life mission in one sentence? | Leave the world in a better place than when I found it. Coupled with, the opportunity of a lifetime only exists in the lifetime of the opportunity so let’s go and make hay while the sun shines.

What is one talent or strength of yours, which has been critical to your success? | I would say that it’s been the fact that I love making and fostering new relationships. I have got a network of people that are all over the world and wherever I go I just try and make sure that I try and help people achieve what they want, achieve their goals, et cetera. And normally that comes back tenfold after that because just the sheer notion of listening to people, understanding what their problems are, understanding how I might be able to help them, and then connecting the dots normally results in amazing things for them and equally amazing things for me and a massive sense of fulfillment and achievement for both people.

What is my biggest weakness? | My biggest weakness is also probably my biggest strength, I would say, in that I probably, well not probably, I definitely take on way too much and try to do too much. So I ultimately try spin far too many plates and therefore occasionally drop the odd one or two. Equally I would say it’s also one of my biggest strengths because I get lots of stuff done and I really enjoy the variety of life but sometimes it can come and bite me in the ass. So that is my biggest weakness, definitely. I try and do too much.

What are the most important lessons you have learnt so far, in your career or life journey? | Biggest lessons I’ve learnt so far in my life have been invest time in the people around you. The network and the brain power of those that you’re involved with in your network is so important. So really spend time understanding what makes them move and tuning into their reasons for being, and then having a full appreciation of what you’re about. Having a great level of self-awareness as to what matters to you because then if you understand what is important to you and then you spend time and invest time in recognizing and understanding what’s important to others the two are a very potent combination. Because once you really understand what you want and you can articulate it to others, they’re very grateful for all of the help that you’ve helped provide them in achieving their goals, their dreams. So there’s nothing more powerful and more potent than you being equipped, fully cognizant of what you need and want in life and having a network, an army, behind you that can help deliver that.

How do you deal with self-doubt, fear or negativity? | I kind of deal with it the moment where I doubted myself and faced up to them. I think probably becoming a professional rugby player. I came from a backdrop of a lot of success at school and at university. Always sort of being  the big fish in a little pond and then stepping out into the big, bad world of professional rugby surrounded by players that were arguably all of them better than me and then trying to make my mark in there. That was quite a daunting experience. There were moments, definitely in the early stages of my career, where I would sort of doubt my talent and build up negative images in my mind. What helped me overcome that was talking to coaches, talking to specific people, working with people who were really close to me that I trusted to better understand my value and my skillset. And the really working on reinforcing them all the time. So just recognizing and understanding what my key strengths were and then making sure that I just practiced them over and over and over again so that they became massive points of difference for me on a rugby field. And as a result of that my career then blossomed and went the way that I wanted it to go. That would definitely be a key moment for me.

What’s the best advice I’ve ever received? | That came from a chap called Steve Black, our fitness coach at the Newcastle Falcons, and he told me two things. He said, maximize your strengths, manage your weaknesses because that is your point of difference. So just spend all your time, invest all your time, in the things that you’re really good at. Don’t worry too much about sweating time over the stuff that you’re not so good at. A great quote that stayed with me that’s a bit of a mouthful was, “the opportunity of a lifetime only exists within the lifetime of the opportunity.” So a bit of Carpe Dieme, seize the day.

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