Our focus in the month of January for Community of Competitors Newsletter is to set up 2016 for success by focus on our response. As many of you that have heard me speak know, my first mantra of success is as follows: We have no control over what goes on around us, and we have total control over how we respond.
When the Seahawks took on the Panthers on Sunday, you saw a perfect example of responding. The first half of the game was plagued with errors and mistakes by the Seahawks that resulted in a half time score of 31-0. Many people stepped away from this game because they felt the game was over and the score was lopsided. I decided to continue to watch for one reason, to see how the Seahawks responded. You see, the Seattle Seahawks and Coach Pete Carroll are one of the most open organizations about their inner workings and approach to player and team sports psychology. In turn, they are one of the most studied organizations.
It is fascinating to boil down to the deepest levels of sports psychology that Pete Carroll is able to implement within his team. This past week, there was an article published by ESPN.com outlining the Seahawks “culture of grit.” (Culture of Grit Article.) Grit is a term coined and subsequently studied by professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and MacArthur Fellow, Dr. Angela Duckworth. (You can see her TED Talk here The Key to Success? Grit .) Basically, “grit” is our ability to pursue long-term goals and is broken down into passion and perseverance.
The Seahawks select players that have passion, not just in the draft, but also in their undrafted free agent signings. At one point in the 2015-16 season, the Seahawks had more undrafted free agents on their roster (24) than any other team in the NFL. Sure, everyone wants to hear about Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman, but the Seahawks are engineered to have and develop passion and perseverance within their players and throughout their organization.
Here is a quote from Pete Carroll that outlines why they trend toward those players that were not as highly touted as others, “They know they’ve got something to prove. This game isn’t all about talent. So much of it is about your heart and how hard you’re willing to work and how you fight through all of it and the passion that your bring. Those guys, we really appreciate those kind of guys.”
For you, the members of the Community of Competitors, I feel the same way. You have something to prove. Your success in life is not always about the talent that you have in your chosen area, but how you choose to respond with perseverance and compete with passion. In this Community of Competitors, we have business people, teachers, athletes, and coaches and members of all ages and our execution of excellence will determine our success. The challenge for you is to live everyday with passion and perseverance. Passion and Perseverance are part of your RESPONSE to what is occurring around you. As a member of the Community of Competitors you are expected to RESPOND with the Heart of a Competitor. This is the reason you open this message on a weekly basis and the reason you are being challenged this week to share this message with five people. (Next week’s message will detail why we focus on five people.)
Let me finish by saying this, developing grit, RESPONDING with the Heart of a Competitor does not mean that you are guaranteed to “win” on the scoreboard. The Seahawks did not win their game yesterday and they did not win in the Super Bowl last year, however in the Seahawks world these experiences are all based on developing the perseverance and passion that will allow them to pursue improvement over a long-term. If you do not believe me, just check out how Russell Wilson handles his post-game press conference. (Russell Wilson post-game press conference on NFL.com.)
Live this week with the Heart of a Competitor.
Our focus on Leadership in the month of November continues. In our first week, we focused on Leaders being eagles, soaring high with courage, being present and prepared when adversity arises. (Eagles as Leaders Message.) Last week, we learned about Nelson Mandela’s message on leadership and his view as true leaders being shepherds and facilitating the movement forward of the flock, supporting others in the process of becoming a leader. (Mandela on Leadership.) This week, we turn our focus to leading yourself.
Many times Leadership is focused on what we are doing outwardly and leading others, but true leadership begins with leading ourselves. This is not a selfish leadership it is about preparing ourselves to be leaders. Leaders are always learning, trying to make the great even better and it begins with leading themselves. Personally, when I have lost this focus, I have been a poor leader. If you lead yourself and what is close to you, you will lead others to allow them to perform at a higher level than they currently are. (This is Leadership!)
Self-Leadership must include a plan for growth and learning. True leaders are developing themselves. This development does not need to be a great epiphany, but a commitment to becoming and may include reading on a consistent basis, some form of professional development, and a close, small knit group of people who will provide honest (positive and negative) feedback on your journey.
In the area of reading, committing to read for 10 minutes a day or 10 pages a day will allow you to read a minimum of a book a month. You can learn a lot from 12 books in a year. A book that I just completed is a newly released piece by John Brubaker entitled, Seeds of Success. It took me a mere five days to read Seeds of Success. Once I picked it up, I could not put it down. The small “seeds” that are included in this book are genuine and great reminders to appreciate the relationships we enjoy in our lives. It is important to let you know that I appreciate and enjoy the relationship we have through the Community of Competitors weekly newsletter. Seeds of Success is the perfect blend of lessons woven into a story. Check out Seeds of Success by clicking here: Seeds of Success Book.
Engaging in professional development opens the doors to hearing how other successful people are learning and growing. You will also hear of the mistakes they made, what they learned from them, and implement the lessons they learned into your life. One great form of professional development for coaches is to attend a coaches clinic or convention. For the Baseball and Softball Coaches out there, we would love to have you join us at the Be the Best Coaches Convention in Atlantic City, NJ. Check out the speakers’ page and other information using the following link: Be the Best Coaches Convention. This event includes a first class line-up of speakers and I am honored to be playing a small part in serving the coaches that come to this event.
Continue to lead yourself to new and great opportunities that are all around us.
“A leader… is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”
– Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa (1994-1999)
Leadership can take on many different forms. Does the situation require an in your face leader motivating them to work harder and push further? Does the situation require the leader to be in front, making individual decisions for the group? Does the situation require facilitation by the leader so a group decision can be made?
As a leader, the Heart of the Competitor must have a pulse on the situation and of those the competitor has been called to lead.
Leadership may look like an eagle, soaring above, out in front all alone with the courage to handle the situation for those that fall under their stead. This view of leadership is probably the first one to come to the mind when asked to describe what leadership looks like.
Nelson Mandela provides another view of leadership. His view of leadership is based around a shepherd. His description of the shepherd, staying behind the flock is perfect to focus on the need to develop the strengths within the group you lead. Leadership develops those strengths and does not just allow, but encourages and facilitates the growth of those strengths. The support and encouragement the Heart of the Competitor provides to others allows them to forge ahead and accomplish great things, while leading from behind. Mandela uses this description of a shepherd because a shepherd is merely facilitating the movement and control of the flock and if he moves to fast, he will lose his flock and need to use time hunting and bringing them back into the fold.
The Heart of the Competitor evaluates each situation and places systems in place for success to be a byproduct of the process. Leadership can be like an eagle soaring above, with courage to forge ahead or it can look like a shepherd encouraging and facilitating others to achieve with support and direction from behind.
Question of the Day:
How will you lead like shepherd, facilitating and pushing the flock ahead while supporting others from behind?
For many the Memorial Day weekend signifies the beginning of summer. The community swimming pools open, school year’s wind down, and family gatherings abound. Memorial Day is steeped in the tradition of recognizing the sacrifices that so many people have given to provide the freedoms that we enjoy in America today. The traditions and rituals of honoring and caring for those that have given the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty is a powerful reminder of the teamwork and commitment to each other that is a part of a soldier’s service to the American people.
The United States military branches are well known for “never leaving an American behind.” This is true for the fallen American Soldier as well. A fallen soldier is accompanied by another soldier on the flight home to Dover Air Force base and remains with them until they are returned to the family. We must continue to recognize those that have given their lives to support our freedoms. It is what Memorial Day is built on.
(Yochi Dreazen and Gary Fields wrote a powerful piece on the returning home of the American Soldier. The article entitled, “How We Bury the War Dead” appeared in the Wall Street Journal on May 29, 2010.)
Creating teams with the Heart of a Competitor can learn two lessons from the way United States Soldiers are treated:
- Each member of the team is valued.
Regardless of race, ethnicity, or rank, each soldier is treated with dignity and respect. Their service to the country is honored and recognized.
- The struggle within your own team can change the way you treat each other.
The Civil War was a major reason the treatment of the fallen soldier was changed. Congress decided that those soldiers that fought for the country deserved to be recognized for their sacrifice and set up the national cemeteries that we have today.
Know that the struggles you face as an individual, a team, or an organization will change you. These changes we undergo are essential to becoming the people, team, or organization we are destined to become.
Pride permeates through every aspect of the competitor’s life. Pride in every effort and every endeavor the competitor undertakes, no matter how small it may seem at the time. Pride is doing the best that you can do to become the best that you can become. Imagine placing a sign on the front of your jersey that says the Heart of a Competitor is behind this jersey. That is what you are doing everyday. (Watch this Nick Saban Press Conference and you will understand the Jersey reference.)
“There are two kinds of pride, both good and bad. ‘Good pride’ represents dignity and self-respect. ‘Bad pride’ is the deadly sin of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance.”
– John Maxwell, Writer and Leadership Consultant
To accomplish a goal and to demonstrate excellence in any field a competitor must have pride in their work and pride in their heart. For a competitor, pride can take on many forms, but best-selling author and speaker, John Maxwell, mentions the most important part of pride above there must be dignity and self-respect. The Heart of the Competitor has the dignity and self-respect inwardly that forces them to pay attention to every small and seemingly inconsequential detail. Pride is the reason the baseball team hustles on and off the field. Pride is the reason the football team hands the ball back to the official, so preparation for the next play can occur. Pride is the reason the team walks together in lines of two coming off the bus to the field.
On the other side of the pride coin is the bad pride that seemingly seeps into some competitor’s lives. This is the “bad pride” that is evident when certain competitors walk like they have never done anything wrong. It is not the confident or successful strut, it is the “arrogant” and “I am too good for that” attitude that radiates from their body. The arrogant individual that never helps pick-up equipment or the individual that jogs to the next station. This has no part in the Heart of the Competitor, for the Heart of the Competitor is always asking what else they can do to help themselves and help the team.
Coaches and players that have experienced success at a young age must fight the “bad pride.” Those that experience success in the form of wins and losses at a young age have a tendency to develop the “show up and win” attitude that reeks of conceit and arrogance. The players that have to work at the craft develop the Heart of the Competitor because they have always had to fight and prove their will can defeat an opponent’s skill.
How have you evidenced “good pride”? How will you evidence “good pride”? (What have you done to show self-respect and dignity toward your craft?)
“Here is one of life’s central realities: everyone, regardless of financial status, physical condition, athletic ability or education, can be a person of character – and nothing is more important to personal happiness and social health than good character.”
– Michael Josephson Founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics
There is no substitute for a person or teammate of good character, a teammate that will be honest no matter what the situation. While the quote above from Michael Josephson relates quality character to personal happiness and social health, it applies directly to a team. Regardless of a player’s ability or standing in the pecking order on the team, they can be a person of good character. It takes no talent to show up on time, support your teammates, and be true to your word.
Establishing and maintaining high quality character is important to the team’s happiness and health. Your guard against poor character decisions can never be left down because one poor decision can lead to the erosion of a team’s happiness and health.
Question of the Day:
What can you do to commit to building your and your team’s character?
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“A man of character finds a special attractiveness in difficulty, since it is only by coming to grips with difficulty that he can realize his potentialities.”
– Charles de Gaulle French President and WW II Resistance Leader
Just as the baby develops confidence in their walking by experiencing failure, we can develop and grow by experiencing difficulty. People of true character, someone to stand with side by side in battle, enjoy the difficulties. They search out difficulties because they know their true self is rooted in the development of skills they would have never reached without the problems and adversity they are experiencing.
This brings to mind a quote by Vernon Law, “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.” Whether we want to or not, we are always learning, learning is not just for a classroom; it is for the world, for the world is a classroom.
A person of true character, a person who does what they say they will do, follows through, even if it is difficult. This difficulty, the adversity we face, allows for the realization of our potential.
Questions of the Day:
- What difficulty or adversity have you encountered in the last week?
- What did you learn from this difficulty that you could apply in the future?