5 minutes with... New Zealand National Rugby Union team captain Sam Cane

19 May 2021

To those with even a passing interested in the game of rugby, Sam Cane won't need an introduction. For anyone else, we took 5 minutes with the captain of New Zealand National Union team about developing mental muscle to achieve astounding feats.

We have one brain and it's always with us, so it needs to be looked after

What drew you to working with Unmind?

Screenshot 2021-04-29 at 16.43 1I loved the concept and goal of making a positive impact in the mental health space. We hear more and more about how important mental health is, but a lot of people don’t understand how to achieve this – Unmind gives people the skills and tools to actually do it.

What does the statement "We all have mental health, all of the time" mean to you? What is your experience with your own mental health?

Screenshot 2021-04-29 at 16.43 1To me, it means that we have one brain and it's always with us, so it needs to be looked after – not just sometimes, all the time. We must treat it like any other muscle and if we want it to be strong we must work at it.

I feel very fortunate to have had access to mental skills coaches right across my rugby career. I have lent on them during tough times both personally and also to help control my mind when it comes to performance under pressure. I am continually picking up new mental skills and improving.

What is one way that you take care of your own mental health every day? Why is this habit so important for you?

Screenshot 2021-04-29 at 16.43 1I make a very concise effort to be grateful and express gratitude. It helps me appreciate what I have and how fortunate I am.

I also try to bring positive energy with me wherever I go – you want to be that person people enjoy having around and who is uplifting.

What book would you say has had the biggest positive impact on your life? Why?

Screenshot 2021-04-29 at 16.43 1Atomic Habits by James Clear. It's a really powerful book around forming good habits and how the impact of small but consistent changes can have such a positive (or negative) effect on your quality of life and what you want to achieve.

If you could encapsulate the key piece of wisdom you've acquired over your life in regards to your own mental wellbeing, what would that be?

Screenshot 2021-04-29 at 16.43 1Tough question... there are so many.

To be resilient you must practise resilience, life isn’t always fair and sport is the same, when things don’t go your way you must pick yourself up, find the positives or silver linings from the tough times, learn from them and move forward.

The other one I find extremely helpful is talking. Sharing my problems or thoughts with people I trust and respect to help clear my mind and move forward.

Thanks, Sam. It's been a pleasure.

Unmind members can hear more from Sam by taking our new Series, Building Mental Strength, here. The 5-part L&D programme focuses on overcoming adversity and building mental strength. Inside, Sam tells the story of how he came back from a broken neck to captain his National rugby team.

Sam and mental skills coach, Aaron Walsh, go on to explore techniques on how to build mental strength in ways that we can all practise in everyday life, to overcome challenges and thrive under pressure.

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