“Extreme teamwork developed when they transitioned from depending on plays for confidence to depending on one another.”
– John Eliot in his book, Help the Helper
The Heart of the Competitor realizes the importance of selflessness and understands that selflessness is truly self-sacrifice, the giving up of things for others.
For a team of individuals to reach the pinnacle of performance as a unit, there must be self-sacrifice. When the words sacrifice is brought into the equation, it conjures up images of losing something. The true competitor realizes that selflessness and teamwork are actually giving everything that we have to developing into a better person on a daily basis. This giving is a total commitment to the team’s goals, a confidence in teammates, and a realization that a team will accomplish exponentially more than individual.
This is the basis for Mr. Eliot’s quote from his book Help the Helper. This quote was found in his book when he was describing a basketball team. With a change in ownership, the Portland Trailblazers of the NBA began to focus their mindset on giving to others rather always taking. Each NBA team has sound plays they believe will allow them to be successful with their athletic ability. In the Trailblazers case, their extreme and unbeatable teamwork developed when they depended on each other, rather than depending on the play that was designed.
This further evidences that true success if not about the play that is called, it is about the players confidently executing the play that is called. The Heart of the Competitor is called to connect with their teammates and share the energy that connects them together.
This is the compounding of energy. Relating this to basketball, the feeling that five are stronger than one, when five play as one. Regardless of your sport or business, you are stronger together than you are individually.
Question of the Day:
Knowing that giving develops confidence and extreme teamwork, what can you do today to give to one of your teammates?
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.
This past weekend, I shared a short time with members of the 2005 Franklin and Marshall Baseball team as they celebrated the 10-year anniversary of our conference championship. I have had a number of opportunities to be on coaching staffs of teams that have been successful, but the group of players on this team always sticks out as an example of what it takes to function as a unit. The members of this team have moved on to successful careers in medicine, law, investments, and real estate, to name a few. This close-knit group had success on the baseball field and enjoyed many memories off the field as well and I asked them to reflect on their experience ten years later, by pondering this question:
Did the winning lead to the relationships or did the relationships lead to winning?
The discussion around these questions ended up being a circular argument, with no definitive answer. However there was agreement from the players that their relationships were strong and the success they achieved as a group provided relationships that have lasted.
Strong relationships of trust among a team are essential because so many things happen over the course of a game, a season, and a career that are out of our control and the strength of a team’s relationships provides the needed support system to achieve the wins and championships. In sports and life, there are many factors that influence winning, which leaves much of it out of our control. The one thing we control is our self and our relationships on a team. Building the relationships on the team will produce a strong environment for individuals and the team to thrive.
The discussions that took place this weekend among the members of the 2005 Franklin and Marshall College Baseball Team were all focused on their experiences as a member of a team. Their memories were based on the experiences they shared and the relationships they built, rarely mentioning single wins or achievements of an individual. If this is what is remembered 10 years later, then as a coach, we called to create an environment where these relationships are paramount.
For those players reading this, build relationships based on trust throughout your team and great memories will be made.