From spending most of his first 12 years in an orphanage, to becoming mental skills coach and manager to one of the most successful sporting teams in the world, Gilbert Enoka has come a long way.

He shared what he had learned about creating and maintaining a high performance environment as a keynote speaker at the South Island Dairy Event in Invercargill last week.

He has spent 19 years with the All Blacks, working with them for more than 200 tests and World Cup games, and he calls his time with them a privilege.

He has also worked with the Black Caps, Silver Ferns, and other elite sports players.


Enoka talked about his childhood in the orphanage.

He left it at age 12 to be with his mother and siblings, but had to deal with an alcoholic step-father.

At 16 he moved to Christchurch to study sports and then taught physical education.

''If I was going to do something with my life, I would have to do it myself,'' he said.

He said his experience in the orphanage meant he thought ''the world was made up of normal people, and me''.

''Who would have thought I would become the manager of the most successful sporting team of all time?''

Enoka listed many of the things he had learned in his life.

''Your vision must energise and excite you.


''There is no silver bullet or magic solutions, no 'spray and walk away' [to life's problems].

''Your past does not equal your future.

''There are three bones required to be successful: the wishbone; the backbone and the funny bone - so don't grow a wishbone when you need to grow a backbone.

''Schedule time and opportunity to disconnect from devices.

''The game is ours to take, not ours to lose.

''Don't whinge sideways, whinge up.

''Do activities that fill your tank.

''Give people a sense of belonging and connectedness.''