, How The Haka Can Change Your Life

How The Haka Can Change Your Life

July 17th, 2012 Posted by Life Coaching, Performance Coaching

How is it, that from an island nation of circa 4 million people, New Zealand produces such an outstanding rugby team year after year, without fail?  In a lot of cases other rugby teams are just as talented and just as prepared.  So what is it and how can you tap into it to perform at your very best on a consistent basis and produce outstanding results in your career, your relationships and your life?  I believe the answer lies in our psychology; the vast majority of the things we do in our life stem from our psychology, the rest is simply mechanics.

Let me ask you a question…  Have you ever dragged yourself out of bed feeling exhausted?  Rubbing the sleep out of your eyes as you stumble about the place, dragging your feet into the bathroom yawning so hard you think your jaw might snap?  What are your energy levels like?  What are you saying to yourself?  Perhaps, “Not another bloody day at work, I wish I could stay in bed!”  What do you focus on?  Is it on the fight you had with your partner the night before?  Is it dreading another day working for a boss you really can’t stand?  And now the big question…what kind of day do you think awaits a person in this frame of mind?

Could you imagine the All Blacks going out to play a test match in this condition?  You don’t need to be a genius to predict the result.  What about our friend who manages to get himself to work, just in time?  I can imagine his work will be less than productive, his communication style will be unresourceful and the outputs he produces will be marginal at best.

So how can we perform at our very best every day, day in and day out?  We need to perform our own personal Haka to help put us in a state of absolute frenetic physical, emotional and mental energy.

The Empowerment Triangle

There are three things that govern our state at any one time, and these are:

  1. The language we use and what we say to ourselves;
  2. What we focus our attention on; and
  3. How we move our body.




Everyone has mental chatter going on.  Mine just happens to be with an Irish accent!  There are even some people out there reading this now thinking to themselves, “This guy’s crazy!  Talk to myself?  I don’t talk to myself!”  Whether we’re aware of it or not, we are constantly indulging in a private dialogue with ourselves.  Unfortunately, most of us say things that are unhelpful and negative which brings us to places that we don’t want to be.  Imagine for a moment Richie McCaw doing the Haka thinking to himself, “Jeez, that’s a pretty big opposing team, they look pretty fired up.  I don’t think we’re going to be able to break through that defence.  I hope I don’t drop the ball or give away a penalty under the posts.” How well do you think his game is going to go?

Words have meaning, they generate thoughts and associations, and therefore changing our language will change the emotions we experience.  Here’s a simple formula to remember:

Thought -> Emotion -> Action -> Outcome

If you want better outcomes in your life, choose your language (and your thoughts) very carefully.



It’s known that depressed people tend to focus on past failures or past experiences that were painful to them at the time.  They hold onto these painful experiences, relive them and create scripts or stories as to why they can’t move forward, why they’re not good enough or worthy enough to have a happy life.

Living life like this would be like driving a car by only looking in the rear-view mirror.

Recently I did a firewalk but walking bare foot across burning hot coals wasn’t the big “take away” for me.  What really stood out in my mind was the powerful metaphor that the firewalk represented.  Firstly, if walking on hot coals without getting burned is impossible, then with the right focus, anything is possible.  But there’s more!  The most important thing for me was this lesson:  In life it’s vital to focus on the end result and not the obstacle that lays before you.  If your focus turns to the smell of burning flesh, you will never take the first step.  The only way to get across the burning pit is to focus, solely, on the celebrating you will do when you get to the other side and walk, very deliberately, in that direction.  What outcomes can you focus on in your life to help you overcome the burning coals (fears) that lay in your path?


Physical Movement

Changing how we move our bodies has a direct influence on our emotional states.  For example, the physiology of a depressed person is far different from that of a person who has just won the lotto!  Slumping our shoulders, lowering our head, breathing shallower and allowing the muscles in our face to slump literally “triggers” the emotions associated with depression! Conversely, standing tall, holding our head up high, breathing deeply and moving in a positive and empowering way will fire off the emotions to move us into a state of empowerment where you feel you can conquer any challenge…and this can be done in an instant!

For me, the Haka is the perfect metaphor for getting yourself into a peak state.  It is the perfect ritual for changing our mental chatter for the positive, for changing our focus on what’s ahead of us and for changing our physiology to prepare for action…major action!


If you’d like to know more about how you can embed this powerful principle into your life, or if you’d like to learn a little more about what coaching can offer you, please contact us at any time for a free consultation.