It was Richmond’s coach Damien Harwick and captain Trent Cotchin who first became interested in the work of best-selling US author Brené Brown.
- University of Houston research professor Brené Brown has written five New York Times bestsellers
- Richmond Football Club is embracing her philosophy of “walking through vulnerability to get to courage”
- Key Richmond defender Dylan Grimes says adopting her approach has helped him lead a more balanced life
The research and professor’s study into the benefits of expressing vulnerability and her subsequent books were behind what Tigers defender Dylan Grimes describes as a “movement” at Richmond following a disappointing 2016 season.
In round 20 this year, Professor Brown herself turned up to watch Richmond play Melbourne at the MCG.
“To have her at a game was phenomenal and to be honest, it’s one of the few times in my life that I was really starstruck and sort of fumbled around my words when I met her,” Grimes said.
“The work she’s done is incredible, she’s changed so many lives and particularly around Richmond.”
Her work inspired Grimes to open up to teammates when he was struggling with the responsibility of his new role in the absence of injured team mate Alex Rance.
“I was struggling with the challenges I was facing, and I had an all new respect for the work that Rancey had done because, up until that point, I sort of knew what his role was, but I didn’t realise how challenging it was.”
Grimes’ decision to embrace Professor Brown’s philosophy and confide in his teammates was a turning point in his season.
“It sounds simple, but in an environment where you’re so heavily scrutinised and the spotlight is really on you, to have the courage to really embrace who you are and the imperfections of who you are is a challenge.”
Grimes has since added an ‘All Australian’ to a CV that already boasts a 2017 Premiership.
But he says his life away from the club has played just as big a part in his success as what he does when he’s there.
The 28-year-old owns Mount Macedon Winery with his fiancee Elisha and relishes the isolation provided by doing manual work around the vineyard and farm.
“Working in nature I think is a really healthy thing for a footballer to do because you know you’re not looking at your phone, you’re not attached to any media stream or anything like that.
“You are completely at peace, I guess, that’s what I find here.”
“I am lucky in the sense that when the games get more intense at this time of year, I’m able to have a focus away from football and something that I’m am passionate about so it’s like active mindfulness.”
Grimes loves to have his teammates at the property to visit and it has led to some interesting outdoor adventures.
None more so than at his engagement party last year.
“Rancey noticed a couple of horses in the paddock and in typical Rancey style, he hopped bareback straight on one and was riding around at the engagement party.
“Dimmer [Damien Hardwick] was just shaking his head in the background.”
One of Grimes’ younger teammates also gained valuable experience with the great outdoors.
“I remember one time we had a small bonfire with a few of the guys and some quiet beers here. We went to training a couple of days later and Jack Higgins comes up to me and he says, ‘How did you do that, how did you get a fire going?’ I was like ‘what do you mean?’ and I realised he’d never lit a fire before in his entire life. He’d grown up with ducted heating,” Grimes laughs.
Between bonding sessions in the countryside and Richmond’s decision to embrace vulnerability, Grimes says the playing group has never been closer.
“We are a really, really tight group and that makes the hard times better, but it also makes the good times better as well,” he said.
“I think the more you promote players being themselves, the more they enjoy being there and the less masks they have on and the more vulnerable they are prepared to be.”