Adam Goodes on building resilience

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Categories: Empowering you

Adam Goodes won two Brownlow medals, two premierships, and was inducted into the Sydney Swans Hall of Fame but this decorated career also tested his resilience. Goodes shared his experiences at a CommSec Adviser Services lunch in August 2019

A former Australian of the Year's rollercoaster AFL career that reached the pinnacle of the sport’s success and yet ended in racial vilification would seem to offer few parallels with the world most financial advisers inhabit.

And yet Goodes feels the advice his mother gave him when he was first making his way in the world rings true across our common humanity.

For Goodes, the common thread for advisers and professional athletes is their need to know the rules of the game, achieve a level of skill at what they do and set targets and goals.

“We both have external factors at play: competition, clients, the landscapes, the grounds. And we both have public opinion to contend with; they love to weigh in on whether we’re right or wrong,” he said.

“Most of all, both industries rely on the strength and resilience of ourselves when we’re in play. I have learnt many times over that we can’t always control the things around us but we do have a choice.”


Goodes admits that he wasn’t a natural leader and that it didn’t come to him as easily to him as some people think. The craft had to be learned and he credits the Swans’ team culture early in his career as central to his development and later success.

“After 2003 we made a commitment to giving 100% effort 100% of the time and there were no exceptions,” he said. “At a team level, we honoured these behaviours almost more than the skill level of any one player.”

Goodes acknowledged that you can’t create a winning team just by signing up the most highly skilled players you can afford. Instead, you must bind talented individuals together with a set of easily identifiable behaviours that underpin team culture.

“As a leadership group we had the philosophy that if the behaviours and mindset were right then we could work with a player on anything,” he said. “We had a motto that you could act your way into or out of our culture.”


Goodes said it was inevitable across industry sectors and professions to find people who will be supportive and those who either disagree or who work towards undermining the efforts of others.

For the Swans legend this meant getting himself out of an environment that was potentially toxic to his mental health. And that could only be done by retiring from football.

“I know that building solid internal foundations provides the best resilience and, for me, that was knowing my purpose and having a passion for what I was doing … utilising the support and team around me and believing in myself and my values,” he said.

“It was about identifying and then focusing on the actions and behaviours that are required right in front of me and letting that work its magic. You’re only as good as your last game or last action and it’s consistency that makes premiership behaviours.”

Important: This article has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial or taxation situation or needs of any particular individual. Before acting on the information, you should consider its appropriateness to your circumstances and if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice. Any information used in this article is for illustrative purposes only. Adam Goodes is external and not a member of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Group of Companies (the Group) and the content or any view expressed by Goodes does not represent an endorsement, recommendation, guarantee or advice in regard to any matter. CBA, nor members of the Group accept any liability for losses or damage arising from any reliance on external parties, their products, services and materials. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.