LEADER -- When teamwork really matters

Former rugby union star Brendan Cannon experienced every parent’s worst nightmare but learnt more about the importance of a team than he did during his entire sporting career.

IN A single moment, former Wallaby Brendan Cannon’s perspective on life changed forever.

Just over two years ago, Mr Cannon was slowly backing his family four-wheel drive out of the driveway, preparing to head off to the shops.

He had packed his two older children into the car and as far as he knew, his little boy, 18 month-old Sam, was with his mother Fiona, playing in his eldest sister’s dollhouse and going up and down the slide.

Mr Cannon could hear Sam’s giggles as he started the car.

HIS WORST NIGHTMARE

What he didn’t then realise was that in between his starting the car and reversing out of the driveway, Sam had made his way around the rear of the vehicle, into its blind spot.

“I walked to the back of the car and came round and poor little Sam was basically down between ... just in front of the back tyre,” Mr Cannon told Channel 9’s 60 Minutes in an interview just two weeks after the incident.

“He was sort of propped up a little bit on his elbows, but obviously crying, incredibly distressed, in a lot of pain and looking, looking at me as if to say, ‘Dad! Help! Help!’”

Ms Cannon immediately phoned the ambulance, as her little boy began to turn pale and then blue. The two loving parents feared the worst.

It wasn’t as though Mr Cannon – who played 42 tests for the Wallabies and 106 games in the Super 12/14 competitions – hasn’t faced adversity in the past.

He was in a serious car accident of his own when he was 20, and it was the injuries sustained in this crash that forced his premature departure from rugby union in mid-2007 due to concerns about his spinal cord.

But nothing compared to the ten long minutes that passed until help arrived in the form of Dr Steve Rashford and his team of paramedics from the Queensland Ambulance Service.

“There was someone looking after us and looking after Sam that day to get that team of people there at that right moment in time for us,” he recalls, “because there is no doubt in my mind that it would have been a different outcome, it really would have.

“Thankfully for us, the team that worked with Sam was one of the best that Queensland could have offered,” he told a hushed audience at last month’s Young Professionals in Real Estate (YPIRE) conference.

“All the planets aligned that morning; they were the most amazing team I have ever seen.”

Sam’s injuries were extensive. The car, weighing almost 150 times more than the toddler, broke his upper left femur and the middle of his right femur. It also crushed his torso, causing internal bleeding and severe damage to his liver.

“Sam is now three and a half years old and still doesn’t comprehend fear or recognise danger,” Mr Cannon says, “but he is a fantastic little guy and he is here with us, healthy and happy – and for a reason. That team of doctors worked what I consider to be a miracle.

“In essence, what I am really here to say is that a solid, well-trained team can make things happen.

“On that morning, they were the most amazing team I have ever seen. The fireman, the ambulance guys, the police all new exactly what to do, all knew the roles they had to play because they had systems, procedures and they maintained control.”

TEAMS MAKE THINGS HAPPEN

Mr Cannon’s message was moving and inspirational.

But it was more than that. It was also a reminder to agents to rethink the way they handle their team situations, whether at home, with family and friends or at the office.

“Team is so important, so make sure you utilise all aspects of your team,” he said. “Get all your procedures together, make sure your systems are in place.

“Look at the people in your office who have already been successful, look at them closely and see what they do differently from everyone else.

“Even look closely at the people who aren’t successful but can’t quite figure out why. Use your team to your advantage and to the advantage of your client.”

Little Sam has made a full recovery and with the accident now behind him, Mr Cannon believes his story needs to be told.

According to the rugby union great, accidents like the one that would have devastated the Cannon family are not isolated incidents, with one family every week experiencing this same trauma.

One of the most important things Mr Cannon has learnt from the accident is to never take anything as a given.

“Make sure you never take anything for granted,” he told a room packed with Gen Y agents, “because the moment you start taking things for granted is the moment life will pass you by.

“When you sit back and you are content, and you become complacent and satisfied, the rug will get pulled out from underneath you.

 “Someone will always be hungrier in your office, somebody will always be trying to challenge you and redefine how they do things to get in front of you.

“Don’t let that person be the one sitting behind you or next to you; make it be you.”

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