How winners refuel their hunger for repeat success

Played four, won four.South Africa’s faultless record in Rugby World Cup finals was extended in Paris on Saturday as they became the first country to win the championship four times. They turn up when it matters. A nerve-shredding 12-11 victory over the All Blacks also gave them back-to-back wins. After their readmission to international rugby post-apartheid, the Springboks made their World Cup debut as hosts in 1995 and have won four of the eight tournaments they have contested.

It was a helter-skelter game. With the Stade de France ringing to the sound of a full-throttle haka, the teams tore into each other from the off. The physicality never dropped. Scrums were full-on gladiatorial confrontations. The breakdowns were intense scraps. The line-out was full of squirming, flailing limbs. The midfield was cratered with wild abandon big hits. The All Blacks flung everything they had at the Boks. Their defence creaked but stayed intact.

The Springboks seemed to have control when, with Handre Pollard’s dead-eyed goalkicking having already given them a 9-3 lead, Sam Cane caught Jesse Kriel high in the 27th minute. The All Blacks’ captain was shown a red card on review and another Pollard penalty left the All Blacks a man down, nine points behind and in trouble.

But the Kiwis dragged themselves back into the game. Richie Mo’unga kicked a penalty before the break and Beauden Barrett scooped up a loose ball and slid in after the interval to cut South Africa’s lead to 12-11. Both teams pushed for a decisive score in an enthralling final quarter, but neither found one. Jordie Barrett missing a long-range 73rd-minute penalty and the Springboks held on for a third successive one-point victory in the knockout stages.

Fourteen of the 23 South Africa players that featured in the 2023 final were also involved in the 2019 success against England. After squeezing past hosts France 29-28 in their quarter-final and then narrowly beating England 16-15 in the semis, it was another one-point margin of victory for the Boks.

The All Blacks had the better of territory (53%) and ball possession (60%) despite having Cane sent off in the first half. The Springboks needed their defence to step up and they did, making 209 tackles, their highest tally in a match at the 2023 tournament (the All Blacks made 93). Player of the match Pieter-Steph du Toit led the way for the Boks with 28 tackles. He played more minutes at the World Cup than any other South African forward – 386 out of a possible 560.

Meanwhile, the ever-reliable boot of Pollard pushed the Springboks just beyond the All-Blacks’ reach. He appeared in South Africa’s final four matches and had a 100% record from the tee, registering points with all thirteen attempts at goal. All twelve of Pollard’s points in the final came in the first 34 minutes, while the All Blacks were left to rue missed efforts from difficult positions in the second half by Richie Mo’unga and Jordie Barrett.

To get out of a difficult pool, which included Ireland and Scotland, and then defeat hosts France in the quarter-final, England in the semi-final and the All Blacks in the final, is some achievement. They have won the World Cup by beating the best nations and it was truly remarkable. It’s their unwavering desire to push the boundaries and do whatever it takes to win.

I think a lot of teams have gone into the mode of ‘we have loads of caps’ and ‘our families are very proud of us’ and ‘we love playing for our country’. But the Springboks have that steely, selfish attitude that is needed to succeed at the very highest level. Maybe some of those traits are not widely admired but they don’t seem to care about that. They do they want to win.

The final was a family affair for the All Blacks and the Barrett brothers. Lock Scott, centre Jordie and full-back Beauden became the first trio of siblings to play in a final. Beauden won the World Cup in 2015 and won his 123rd cap. Middle brother Scott, 29, and youngest Jordie, 26, played in their first final – you can imagine the scramble for tickets by their family!

South Africa showed their resolve, where their 2019 champions’ success was a platform for winning again. It was impressive, there is a world of difference in being successful and staying hungry for success. There are plenty of examples of people who really could not keep up their drive for success when it mattered, and they ended up from being success stories to one-off wonders.

So, how do you stay hungry for success when you’re running a startup? Enjoying progress and hitting milestones should be celebrated, but your mindset has to be we go again.

1. Don’t let success go to your head This is how one can easily get derailed from the track of success. It’s okay to celebrate what you have achieved, but at the same time you must remember that it’s just the first step. Getting success is the second hardest thing, staying hungry for it after succeeding is the hardest. Even after hitting milestones, stay hungry by finding inspiration in what still lies ahead.

2. Be a little selfish Selfish is a harsh word regarding behaviours, but I couldn’t find a better word to describe this situation. To keep yourself hungry for success you need to become a little selfish. You need to leave the emotions aside while taking decisions to help you grow. This might mean that sometimes you have to ignore sentiment and step on the toes of others, but all in good spirit.

3. Stay grateful for everything To balance the above, humility is a personal trait that will keep your vigour for success up. When you are humble you take success as a journey not as a destination. It is for those who think of success as destination, that remaining hungry once they have reached that destination becomes difficult. Stay hungry, stay foolish said Jobs, and he was right.

4. Success comes to those who want it the most Hunger fuels determination and resilience. This passion is what separates the best from the great. Never settle for mediocrity or play small. Keep yearning for more, stoking your appetite to accomplish big things. By developing the desire, you position yourself to thrive. You need to have an insatiable hunger for success.

5. Fire up your intrinsic motivation  Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with tangible rewards – the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake, that’s extrinsic reward for extrinsic motivation. I lean much more into Dan Pink’s perspective, who asserts that the key to high performance and success is the human need to direct our own lives and to do better by ourselves for ourselves.  He identified three elements of true motivation – autonomy, mastery, and purpose:

  • Autonomy Our self-direction is a natural inclination. We’re all built with inner drive, some folks are just in a higher gear than others. I’ve never been passive and inert; I’ve always gone hell-for-leather and go the extra mile as standard. Apparently, this is because I have ‘autonomy driven motivation’. I’m curious about what I can achieve as a challenge to myself.
  • Mastery We want to get better at something that matters to us. Firstly, it is a mindset, in that we believe we can get better. Second, mastery is a pain, in that it involves not only working harder but working longer at the same thing. Finally, mastery is an asymptote, or a straight line that you may come close to but never reach.
  • Purpose People who find purpose in their life unlock the highest level of the motivation. Purpose is what gets you out of bed in the morning and into work without groaning and grumbling – something that you just can’t fake. Purpose provides a context for autonomy and mastery. It addresses the situation that even when we get what we want, it is not what we need. It’s connected to the drive to be different.

Never let your hunger for self-improvement fade. It should be part of your identity. Whenever you feel complacency creeping in, use it as a red flag, a sign to push even harder. It will transform you from average to elite.

6. Work harder than anyone else It takes relentless effort over time to make dreams a reality. Nourish your vision by sweating the small stuff daily. Outwork those aiming for the same goals. Pour your whole heart and soul into it. Half-hearted efforts lead to lacklustre results. The greats in any field are ravenous – unsatisfied with anything less than their absolute best.

7. Turn adversity into motivation – and reward yourself for small wins When you face setbacks, use failure to fuel a comeback. Let adversity nourish your efforts moving forward. The hungriest learn valuable lessons from difficult experiences that propel new growth. Persist through obstacles and disappointments.

When the going it tough, it’s important to celebrate success. Give yourself a reward for doing something extraordinary. Going above and beyond anything you’ve ever done before deserves a reward. Don’t confuse this with doing what you’re expected to do. The reward should come as a result of achieving things much greater than you could have imagined. Set yourself a target and when you go beyond this target, reward yourself. 

8. Choose your mindset – step outside your comfort zone Mindset makes the difference, it determines your level of drive and attitude to succeed. A fixed mindset leads to complacency – feeling you’ve already peaked, but a growth mindset fuels hunger, understanding you can continually improve. Stay famished by focusing on growth over external measures of success. A hungry mindset prevents famine. How badly do you want to win? Are you willing to make certain sacrifices that success demands? The greats are. They withstand pain, criticism, and fatigue in the relentless pursuit of success.

9. Have an open mind – don’t settle for second Mediocrity results from a lack of hunger. Don’t settle for scraps when you could have a feast. Rise above your own complacency. Stop playing small and set your sights on the very best. Refuse to settle for less than you want. Have an open mind. By having an open mind, you can start to think of a multitude of possibilities to challenge assumptions, renew perspectives, and formulate enhanced solutions.

10. Dream big – and set stretch goals Everyone benefits from being visionary, seeing a target that you have not yet conceptualised into any detail creates a forward path from the ‘as is’ to the ‘to be’.  Being a visionary will always have a positive outcome, whether that be actually obtaining the goal in mind or learning to adjust so you can get it the next time. Drive can never do you wrong.

People who spend their lives taking just enough action create normal lives that satisfy themselves, but never do enough to create big success. But you’ll never reach true success by being less than extraordinary. Put your big ideas out there and work to make them a reality, even if they are sometimes not fully detailed and appear risky.


Cultivating an unwavering hunger is indispensable for reaching your highest potential and dreams first time round. When you want a second helping of success like South Africa achieved, this requires tapping into deep sources of passion, motivation, and grit. They refused to settle for anything less than the absolute pinnacle of achievement. Again. If you continually stoke the flames of hunger, your appetite for success will take you to remarkable heights.

The key is not the will to win, everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important. The hardest part is always getting started. Want it more than others. Find the motivation to get started. Start small. The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.  Be tenacious – or sheer bloody mindedness in my case – come up with a new mantra in an effort to achieve even greater success and have fulfilling moments in life – both in rugby and in your startup.

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