Tag Archives: Team

There’s no “I” in team, but there is a “ME” #2

“There’s no “I” in team, but there sure as heck is a “ME”.”

Of all the stupid coach-things I ever said, this was one of my favorites and maybe the wisest stupid thing I’ve ever said. It kind of goes against the grain against the popular “No ‘I’ in team” sayings we are so familiar with.

A good team is not a group of harmoniously tuned clones; a good team is a collection of individuals, from diverse backgrounds and personalities, who work well together toward achieving a goal.

I did not care where you came from.
I did not care who your friends were or what interests you had.
I did not care who your parents were.
I did not care where you came from.

What I cared about was how you contributed to the team. What I cared about was this. When you stepped across the white line and onto the field, you put the blinders on and committed to working toward making the team better.

Every minute, every hour, every day.

There is some intriguing research being down on the team concept in education, business, etc. Po Bronson, co-author of TOP DOG: THE SCIENCE OF WINNING AND LOSING, has some interesting ideas about the team.

One very important find from the research identifies the 60/30/10 Rule as a formula for a team, whether business, sports, education, etc.

60% of a team’s success is directly related to who is on the team. This means talent. Talented teams succeed. Building a team and/or acquiring talent matters in a big way. The talent level matters more than most people ever realize (or wish to admit). Coaches/leaders are important, but not nearly for the reasons most of us believe.

30% of the success is in the setup of the team. The setup of a team includes the program’s philosophy, goals, and the road map plan to get there. The single most important thing a leader can do to give a team the best chance to succeed is to clarify the roles on the team. Every member of the team should have a role and understand this role.

10% has to do with leadership. The leader’s job, once the team’s goals and roles are established, is to keep the team on course. Don’t micromanage a team.

So what the research is saying is that coaches are not the wizards most people perceive them to be. Coach K, Bill Self, or Bill Snyder are all exceptional in their set up of a team by implementing their goals, philosophies, and role clarification. Where these coaches excel at is acquiring talent and getting those players onto the field with the program’s goals, philosophies and specific roles fully ingrained.

They set and keep the course, not micromanage.

There’s a misconception about a team that everyone must get along. This is crap. Seriously. Harmony and chemistry are two very different things. Harmony means a peaceful, constant state. Harmony does not equate to team, though. Harmony kills progress with complacency. Sure you need some team harmony; you can’t be a team that goes for each other’s throats at every turn, that’s dysfunctional.

One of my biggest coaching pet peeves was the deal making kids would do. The
‘I’ll go easy and scratch your back if you’ll go easy and scratch mine” of the #1’s on the depth chart vs the #2’s and #3’s on the depth chart during drills and scrimmages. I want competition, I want fire. I want an environment the #2 is out to beat the #1 and the #3 is out to put the #2 and the #1 on the edge.

A little skirmish every now and then is not a bad thing for a team. Just don’t allow these little skirmishes to develop into team rifts. Players should challenge each to get better, not beat down each other. Serious issues need to be addressed and resolved early prior to becoming team rifts.

Chemistry is a mix of team member’s personality and skills which move the team forward and drive every member to get better. The players in the mix don’t have to be homogenous. They can be as different as can be. The only thing that matters is the team moves toward its goals.

A team needs someone to rock the boat and be a catalyst to trigger improvement. A team needs someone to point out the deficiencies in the team AND (this AND is very, very important) work to find solutions to improve.

Don’t underestimate the power of the individual to a group or team. As a coach, boss, or team leader, make an effort to understand the 60/30/10 Rule. Assemble the best talent you can, define and assign roles, and let people do their jobs.

Individuals matter.

Don’t allow ego to get in the way of progress.

There’s is no “I” in team, but there is a “ME”.

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Leap Of Faith, Trust Your Cape

Being a part of a marriage, a family, or any sort of a team requires the players to take a leap of faith to achieve success. To build this type of faith, there needs to be built a trust between all involved. Faith and trust that the other members of the team unit will take care of their role and do the thing, or things, they are supposed to do. It is a simple concept of a team unit. Everyone has a job and needs to focus on accomplishing that job.
It’s not easy, though. It is not easy to trust that someone else will hold their own, especially when you know their faults and their weaknesses. It’s easy to lack faith in each other and try to perform all the parts yourself. This doesn’t work very well, believe me.
Trust doesn’t come prepackaged and FedEx’d overnight at our convenience. This type of trust and faith needs to be pounded into shape with consistency and time and repetition. Perform adequately. Every time. Over time. The harder the challenge, the more faith and trust is built; a baptism by fire, as I like to say.
When you trust those around you, it’s like wearing the superhero’s cape. Your cape gives you powers beyond just yourself, it makes you stronger, and it makes you a better individual. With a team, a family, or a marriage, the more intertwined the individuals are, the stronger the unit becomes. We need to help those around us build with their own capes by being faithful and trustworthy teammates.

Young Super Hero Standing on Laundry Machines
So, be a true and faithful teammate, wear your capes proudly, and live life as Guy Clark wrote in his song, The Cape:

“Yeah, he’s one of those who knows that life is just a leap of faith.  Spread your                            arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape.”

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The Rule

The Mrs. Hays recently brought up the subject of her need to develop a set of rules for her new classroom. I suggested, “Mrs. Hays is the Queen of this Classroom; diligently follow every word that flows from her mouth.”

She said that my suggestion was not really a classroom rule, it actually is a universal law. What she needed, she said, was a simple set of rules like the set of “No” rules you find at the swimming pool. No running, no rough-housing, no sitting on shoulders, no diving, etc. and so on. My train of thought and immediate interest in the subject waned with the memories of the hours upon hours of the young me sitting on hot pool decks kept prisoner from my friends and the refreshing, cool water by over-zealous lifeguards and their “No” rules.

With my husbandly duty of suggesting rules to the wife successfully completed, my mind drifted away to behavior rules I’ve run across or used in coaching sports. One of my favorites from my personal stable of behavior rules is this concise, to-the-point, original Coach Hays rule:

“Nothing you do on the field of play can make up for acting like a piece of crap off the field.”

Another one I like, which may or may not be a Coach Dail Smith-ism, is this one on keeping a well-ordered locker room or team bus:

“Your mother is not here, so pick up after your own self.”

But my all-time favorite rule on behavior came from the late Coach Melvin Cales. I lived with Melvin’s son, Monty, in college. As luck would have it, the college happened to reside in the same town as Monty’s grandmother. Melvin and his wife would often drive down and visit his mother on Sundays and then stop by our place on the way out of town. After the visit, Melvin would stop at the door and say to Monty. “Behave yourself.” Then he’d add the one line on behavior which I have repeated hundreds of times over the years to my own self, to athletes and most importantly, to my own children:

“Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read about in the paper.”

So there you have it Mrs. Hays, a rule for your students and, indeed, a great rule for life. Smart, sage, and simple advice from a smart, sage, and simple man.

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There’s No “I” In Team, But There Is a “ME”

Teams are built through shared purpose. Teams are built under a common goal. Team members may be from every race, creed, religion, and socio-economic status. Heck, they can even despise one another, but when they step across the white line, it’s all business. Across that line it becomes all about the common goal.
Teams are formed through challenge and hardship. The team members relish the small victories while continuing toward the common goal.

Teams are forged in the fire of the challenge, fire in the blood, fire in the mind and the burning flame inside the heart. Teams are built on trust. Trust in each other earned through survival of the challenge fire. Each member knows what everyone has sacrificed to be part of the collective. Everyone knows each member has earned their ticket to compete. Everyone trusts everyone else to be prepared physically, mentally, and emotionally to do their job. Trust.

Teams don’t just happen. Teams aren’t built on talk, T-shirts, team pictures, selling candy, having sleepovers or sitting around the campfire singing Kumbaya.
Building a team and building trust takes hard work and sacrifice. Every man, every day. Teams are built by hard work and trust. Team is built by every member taking care of business. A team is built when all the “ME’s” work to become a “WE”.

There is no “I” in team, but there is a “ME”. A whole lot of “ME’s”, in fact, stepping inside the white line to take care of business and achieve the ONE GOAL.

Hard work is the magic.

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Puzzle Pieces and Patience

After the first few weeks of the 2011 fall sports season, I imagine some are in panic mode about their favorite teams, whether  it’s a grade school,  middle school, high school, college or professional team. Maybe a poor start or some ugliness on the field/court, but it has not been the start of the season coaches, players and fans dreamed of during the preseason. If this sounds like familiar territory, here is one word of advice: PATIENCE.  Give the coaches and the players a chance to find themselves. Give them a chance to establish their footing in the whirlwind disappointing start to the season.

Building a team is a little like making a homemade puzzle.  The coach envisions the team he wants to build from the players he has available. He creates the best picture he can using all the players on the team.  The vision is done and it looks promising. Now it’s time to take the jigsaw to it and cut it into pieces.  A very talented, very experienced team cuts into big easy-to-fit pieces, like a Mickey Mouse preschool board puzzle.  As the raw talent and experience level decreases, though, the pieces become increasingly complex in shape and number.

But, this is not going to be a calm, relaxing Sunday afternoon leisurely putting the puzzle back together. Practice starts and all the puzzle pieces are placed on one of those electric football fields from the kick butt sports game of the 1970’s. The switch is turned on, the board vibrates and all the pieces move around the field.  The team cut into the big, easy-to-fit pieces slides into its place in the big picture easier and faster to make the complete team everyone envisioned.  A team ready to roll. The other teams, the ones with complex shapes and many pieces take more time to aggregate into that team everyone dreams about. They need to put in the work and focus harder on coming together. Unfortunately, sometimes it never really comes together into a picture full of grace and beauty.
If your team puzzle picture never really comes together, don’t be discouraged, don’t raise Cain, don’t fly off the handle, just stay patient and enjoy the parts which are good. Never forget, that although the team did not have the season people dreamed of, those are still some pretty damn important player pieces out there working their tails off.

Finally, remember that in sports, as in life, it is not how you start, but how you finish and compete that is important.

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