By Paul Roos
I WENT with Swans co-captain Brett Kirk to hear the Dalai Lama speak last weekend.
To see Kirky introduce the spiritual leader of Tibet was a very special moment for us and the club.
I know you are thinking what, if anything, does this have to do with footy, especially leading into tomorrow night's blockbuster against Collingwood at Telstra Stadium.
But stay with me on this one.
The messages the Dalai Lama delivered were very simple and very applicable to what's happening in today's society.
One of the key messages was that every action you take in life has a reaction, whether you like it or not.
And it's been a big year in football for actions and reactions, starting with the Ben Cousins illicit drugs saga during the pre-season.
This week we witnessed another example of an action and its reaction, with Fremantle's Chris Tarrant involved in a nightclub incident in Darwin.
And it's not just AFL, with NRL stars Sonny Bill Williams and Ben Roberts this week finding their actions off the field causing negative reactions.
Even though I use these as examples, I don't know enough about these incidents to comment specifically.
The Dalai Lama spoke about how, if you can have a positive influence on people through love and happiness, then it will be reciprocated.
I'm more a spiritual person than a religious person but the thing that I found with the Dalai Lama's talk was that it was as much about common sense as it was about Buddhism or religion.
It is interesting how we are always talking about common sense but in today's society common sense doesn't appear to be all that common.
Common sense tells us that taking illicit drugs is bad and too much alcohol and nightclubs generally don't mix well – especially late in the night.
But every week we seem to read about another footy player's actions causing a bad reaction.
The problem is, too many times we don't stop and think about our actions enough and how they are going to impact on ourselves and others.
If it's going to impact positively then I'll go ahead with this action.
But if it is going to impact negatively, then think twice about continuing on that path.
The essence of what the Dalai Lama's message wasn't about finding salvation, but about giving people some tools for life.
We live in a commercial world, we do need things and we do want for things, and that's why there's a lot of pressure on people, especially the younger generation, today.
The difficulty we have is not allowing ourselves to be consumed by those wants and needs and let it turn to greed.
Footballers in particular are exposed to those pressures more often than others because it's almost impossible to escape the spotlight.
That's why there is an enormous responsibility on clubs to help give players the right tools for life.
It's not always that easy in the win-at-all-costs environment that football is.
That's why we can never place enough importance on the role of the leadership group at every club.
If it is functioning properly, a leadership group should be an extension of every player's family.
It's not about just providing a sense of belonging, it's also setting down rules and guidelines.
Another one of the things the Dalai Lama spoke about was hope, which is what life is all about. At the Swans we want to give our fans hope each week and joy and happiness – and not just through winning.
What's important to us at the Swans is how we go about playing our style of footy, being accountable to ourselves and our teammates on the field.
If we stick to those core principles, we will give ourselves a genuine chance of winning each week and that's all our fans and members hope for. It will be no different tomorrow night when we take on Collingwood.