What I learnt from Clyde Rathbone
Clyde Rathbone at 36 has already lived quite the life both on and off the field. Born in South Africa, Clyde was a super talented youngster and led his country of birth to victory at the 2002 under 21’s World Cup. He would choose to move to Australia and eventually represent Australia, the country where his Grandmother was from.
His career would take two paths from early dominance & the highs in both the ACT Brumbies and Wallabies journey to a career cut short by multiple injuries to then launching a stunning comeback to leave the game on the high.
Clyde battled through many triumphs and downfalls through his professional playing days. Clyde’s story shows his ability to rebound from the setbacks and build back to a life of achievement and purpose.
Post career along-side his brother Dayne they have launch Karma. Karma is a platform to share human stories of positivity and gratitude. Thousands of letters have been posted to the site which allows people to express gratitude to the lives of others through letters and connection stories. It is an opportunity for the writer to say thank you and there is a range of situations on the sites from birthdays, weddings, public speaking, teaching, someone may be battling an illness or a tribute to someone who has passed.
It’s funny how we all chase our dreams so early on in life. For many professional athletes they settle on their purpose being their sport but it is great to see people like Clyde find a passion and purpose outside of sport because life is bigger than sport can ever be.
I had the honour of hosting Clyde on the podcast and it was a pleasure to hear his story. Here are my key takeaways from Clyde that I feel will help you in your own journey. Through his life he was exposed to some great people and saw first-hand some game changing habits to have helped shape the man he is today.
Listen to the entire episode on the player below or continue for my key takeaways from the powerful chat.
INFLUENCE OF HIS PARENTS & POWER OF KARMA
"Dayne and I grew up in South African and my folks both had outstanding reputations in our small coastal hometown where my dad is a bit of mad scientist style crazy. It was about 40km’s south of Durban and my mother was always involved in local communities, various social causes and one of the conversations that Dayne and I had was about my parents when they when left South Africa which they did it in their late fifties and when they arrived in a new country where nobody knew them and no one knew who they were so. If there was a way for a record of the impact they created on other people to have been mobilised in a way they could have taken with them when they migrated it would have been to tremendously valuable. So a teacher might leave Canberra and go to out of a New York or London and take a reference from headmaster but imagine how much more powerful that reference would be if it included hundreds of letters from the students whose lives they affected and this is just so much more an authentic insight into the impact someone’s had on the world and it’s why this mission we are on is really personal to us"
FINDING PURPOSE WITH KARMA
That's what makes it so exciting and rewarding but also kind of terrifying because you never quite know where the pipe is going any given moment. Being a founder is not for everyone if you feel like stability, surety and certainty this is not the game you want to be in. But what makes it super rewarding is to discover things along the way. Early on we didn’t have the language to properly describe what were building and I think your better off holding back then going out into the world and talking about what you're doing so that was interesting experience going out and talking about Karma but not doing a great job of it. But then you know we manage to get funding from some Sydney investors to help us continue the journey because that’s the other thing, you're constantly in this cash crisis where because you're not having you producing revenue, you need to be able to demonstrate to potential investors that you can eventually be able to find it and ethical ways to monetize the business. The whole journey has been twist and turns ups and downs and but it's been incredibly rewarding to see it the kinds of experiences that I've been created every day. Through the lens of the positive impact that we’ve created and it's why I am getting up every morning and getting stuck into this, because it is so exciting and rewarding.
"My only advice I have for people on their journey trying to work out what do with their time is you should run lots of experiments, try and not commit to anything before you really have cast the net wide and when you know you'll know, that's definitely been my experience"
"The one things I am really grateful for is his parenting. They didn't get everything right but no parents can be expected to. They never really cared what I did as long as I was happy to be doing that thing. Especially in South African rugby is so deeply embedded there's a lot of parents putting undue pressure on kids. My folks were very proud of what I have achieved but there was zero expectations on me to pursue any career that wasn't directly related to my passions. My dad was somewhat of a centric man we didn’t have many conversations about sport I think it's one of the reasons to why I've managed to leave that environment and do something totally different. I was very conscious of not wanting to be trapped by the definition of myself that was entirely married to rugby/ When I left there was all these traditional pathways you can go into coaching, commentary and stay in the bubble of sport. That might be the right way for a lot of people and I’m not criticizing but I was conscious of really wanting to go and see what else was out there and do something totally different"
"My contact was actually from the Australian rugby union and I could have gone to any of those teams and I just happened that I landed in Canberra first and was blown away by the setup. Yeah but it was an interesting time because it was actually fortuitous that weekend I injured my shoulder, had a few weeks off got on a plane and came to Australia and if I didn’t have that week in Canberra I don’t think I could of taken the plunge. I had spoken to a few of my team mates in South Africa and they said it was a one horse town and I had taken that to heart not realising as far as cities goes it’s not the biggest but has everything you need. I love Canberra, I grew up on the coast so I always thought when Rugby wrapped up I’d head back to the beach. It’s one of those places that I think gets a bad wrap from people who don’t really know what it’s like to live here. I can emphasize with people who come through and think there's not that much there. But it all depends on what you enjoy, I love being able to walk out the front door and in 10 minutes I can be in a direction of a park. I love getting out into nature, it’s an easy place to live and grow a company, there are two big universities here, my family live here so it’s very much become home"
THE BRUMBIES DYNASTY
"I was pretty lucky to come into a unique team at that point so in hindsight you realise what a special bunch of players and people we're at the Brumbies when I arrived there. They formed part of the Brumbies Dynasty of the late 90s and early 2000 with the majority of that team part of the 1999 Rugby World Cup winning team so was it was a pretty unique group of people but one of the things that was special about that group is that most of those guys had started playing rugby before it went professional and then had transitioned into the professional ranks so they all had degrees or went to uni or had work experience and that's quite a rare setup now"
"Joe Roff recognising that I was a fish out of water and in a new city, with a strange accent went out of his way to include me in things and invite me to things. That really counts for lot, the small gestures that when you first arrive at a place it’s all a big unknown you don't forget, Joe’s one of those guys who would go out of his way to help people"
THE BRUMBIES ADVANTAGE
"I think it was a unique set up especially in those days where you got a bunch of guys coming together, with a shared goal and living in each others pockets. I remember speaking to Matty Rogers and he lived in Cronulla and he would only ever see his Waratahs team mates at training and on game day. At the Brumbies we were going for long lunches and catching up for coffee and going to see movies and I think it just fostered this real family environment that every team aims for but I think Canberra as a city was really cohesive to that and a reason why the Brumbies were able to be a successful as they were"
THE TEST DEBUT
"In my case it was an unusual one because I played my first test at inside centre. Sterling Mortlock had injured himself and didn’t play the last few games of the Super Rugby season. I’d grown-up in South Africa as a centre and but hadn’t played any games for the Brumbies and here I was making my test in that position. So here I was so it worked out in a strange way but exciting and Matty Bourke was an idol of mine as a youngster and it was between me and him to replace Sterling and it was a surreal experience. I just remember saying to myself in the hotel room I’ve just replaced Matt Burke and it didn’t seem to make any sense"
CHOOSING TO SING ONLY THE AUSTRALIAN ANTHEM
"I didn't sing the South African Anthem, we played in Durban where I grew up down the road and the whole place was vibrating. The anthem in South Africa is sung in a few different languages, it starts in Zulu, transitions to English and ends in Africans, South Africa went through so much transition I grew up as a child singing Descend which is the old anthem, but when South Africa went through this transition to a functioning democracy the anthem was redone so it was never something I connected with like people who were born and raised with the anthem did. There were parts of the song which were disappointing. You’d be in the stands or in my case on the field waiting to play and when the Zulu part played 10% of the crowd would be singing and the African or English bit the whole crowd would get behind it. It wasn't hard for me not to sing the Anthem and now I'm not one for Nationalism or aggressive patriotism. It’s not something I found particularly attractive so I sang the Australian anthem. It was a complex of emotions standing there hearing the South African anthem just thinking how you set out on these paths and never quite know how you’re going to end up and I could of never have predicated I was going to be playing in Kings Park, which is where I went to watch all my childhood heroes play and I’d be signing the Australian National Anthem"
DRIVING PAST THE HIS HIGH SCHOOL IN THE AUSTRALIAN TEAM BUS
“The strangest moment was when the Australian team landed in Durban and we got on a bus and drove down the South Coast where we were doing the preparation for the test and we drove past my high school. I remember sitting on the bus and thinking if someone could go back in time and grab me while I was running around in those fields and say one day you will be driving past on a bus with the Australian team it would have been like saying you’re going to land on Mars, it would have been that absurd”
THE POWER OF CONVERSATION
"It's amazing how powerful something so simple can be and it doesn't seem as though a conversation can have a profound effect on you but I've learnt that I really can and it's why I have them all the time now. I built momentum from there and having those conversations was the first step. Then it was really just trying to regain some level of control over my life so things like starting to eat well again, concentrating on quality sleep, getting out into the sun and nature, exercising. Going back and playing again for two seasons for the Brumbies started with a walk around the block, which then turned into a very slow shuffle around the block and then hills sprints, then you’re back in the gym. You can build on those processes one step at a time"
This was truly one of my favourite podcasts and I’ve done over 230 podcasts. I love the comeback story, the ability to rise back on one’s feet when they have been knocked down. I also admire the pursuit of passion and purpose. When those two align something very powerful happens and I can see that forming in Karma and the positivity it brings to the world.
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