Team Ball

It is March Madness. We are in the middle of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The best team will become the National Champion. There are a lot of great individual players, but it is the team that plays the best together, as one, that will win.

This week’s life and leadership strategy is Team Ball. You can’t control how everyone else on your team, in your organization, or in your company plays. You can decide how you are going to play. You can decide to be on the team.

1.      Decide to be on the team. Make the decision from the beginning that you are going to be a team member. Commit to the group you are part of, or don’t be part of it.

2.      Sit up front. If there’s a team meeting, sit in the front third. If there is a gathering, don’t hang out in the back. Be present to the group you’ve committed to.

3.      Engage. Take notes at the meeting. The people upfront see if you are checked in or not, and so will your teammates. You’re committed to it, you are present, so engage.

4.      Take out the trash. There are always jobs on every team that no one likes doing. Be the one that is willing to do them from time to time. Take out the trash, clean up the towels, and make the coffee. Not every job on the team is glamorous, but every job is important. Do your part, from the bottom to the top.

5.      Be positive. Complaining is contagious, but so is positivity. Be the teammate that helps others to see what is good and right. You will perform better, your teammates will perform better, and your team will get better.

6.      Do your job with drive and energy. Showing up isn’t everything. The best teammates are the ones that give it everything they’ve got. Months before the championship game, the champions are hustling and so should we.

Being a member of a team doesn’t always mean you are the leader. But being the best team ball player you can be puts you on a trajectory towards leadership. But that shouldn’t be the primary goal.

Being the best team ball player you can be is how we learn all the skills we need to be the best leaders and people we can be.

If you are the one taking out the trash and cleaning up the towels, don’t long for the days when that stuff is behind you. Learn to appreciate the opportunity to contribute to something bigger than yourself. So when you are the one calling the shots, you don’t forget to be grateful for the opportunity to contribute to something bigger than yourself.

Show the people watching (there are always people watching) what it looks like to play team ball.

Westbound Freight

A fully loaded freight train can weigh between 18,000 and 40,000 tons. These trains run at speeds between 40 and 70 mph. The average (29,000 tons moving at 55 mph) would have 467,900,000 pound feet per second or 1/19th of the force of the space shuttle launch.  

This life and leadership strategy is about change, and when the time for change has come. Change happens. Change is life, whether we like it, want it or not.

This can apply to change that you cannot control; in your work place, in your community, and in relationships you are in. This can also apply to changes you know you need to make and control but haven’t committed to yet, but believe you should.

When the majority of people in an organization or group have decided it is time for change, just like a loaded freight train on straight tracks heading west gets up to full speed, there is little or nothing that will stop it.

If there is change coming in your organization/relationship/team/community and the majority is behind it and emotionally committed you really only have three choices.

1.      Get on board. There are times we need to move with the whole even if the direction is not the one we’d choose.

2.      Get out of the way and keep our mouth shut. There are times we need to accept the group is taking a direction we don’t want to go and it’s okay to let it.

3.      Lay on the tracks and try to stop it. This should only be done when there is a moral issue. Emotion and sentiment are not moral issues. This also usually ends in the same manner as if you were to actually lay on the tracks and try to stop some westbound freight.

The personal application, when you know there is a change you want or need to make in your own life is in the power of commitment. We know we need to do something but are afraid of failure so we don’t start. If we were to really commit to the change we have to make and allow the momentum of the commitment to grow, before long the force becomes unstoppable. We are the catalyst to this growth in our own physical, mental and spiritual lives.

If I know I need to be healthier and I fully commit to going to the gym, the momentum of my resolve will keep me from failing. If I know I need to be a better parent or partner and I fully commit to putting the time in, the momentum of my resolve will keep me from failing. If I know my heart and habits are out of balance and it is time to seek that which is greater than me to restore that balance, the momentum of my resolve will keep me from failing.

We cannot stop a change whose time has come.

We can decide when it’s our time to change.

Self-Image and Potential

We all have potential that is greater than we usually assume and experience. We settle for less than we are actually capable of because we don’t realize what we are capable of. At moments, we come close and exceed our own expectations. We surprise ourselves but call it luck.

We don’t see the reality of our potential because we are blinded by our self-image. For some, the ceiling of self-image is much lower than our true potential. For others, it is closer. Our hope is to get those lines as close as possible but it takes some honesty and work.

A low self-image stands in the way of building confidence, reaching our potential and being the best leader, laborer, team-member, partner, parent and community member we can be.

Here are some ways to raise the ceiling of self-image.

1. Spend time with people that have a higher self-image. If we are around negative people we will develop a negative world view and view of ourselves. People with a higher and healthy self-image show us how to be honest and self-aware. We were made for relationships. The relationships we have should make us better.

2. Say and hear things that affirm your potential. It’s more than seeing other people living with a higher self-image, do what they do. Practice self-forgiveness and self-compassion. Let yourself off the hook when stuff doesn’t work out the way you want. Remind yourself (out-loud) that you don’t control everything, but you do control how you choose to see it. When you succeed, congratulate yourself for being the kind of person that does the stuff you do. Stop telling yourself what you aren’t and what you can’t do and start telling yourself who you are and what you can do.

3. Remember and remind yourself of your accomplishments. It is too easy to dwell on failure. Build a mental trophy case to remind yourself that you win too. Failure may happen, but don’t let it define you.

4. Dream about what could be and visualize what will be. If you aim low you miss the target. Just like you need to remind yourself of who you really are, tell yourself what you want to see happen.

5. Have faith you’re more than you’ve seen. We made in the image and likeness of a perfect God. He makes good things, and He made you perfect for the life He’s planned for you. Andrew Carnegie said, “Immense power is acquired by assuring yourself in your secret reveries that you were born to control affairs.”

You might not believe your potential is so much higher than your current self-image, but what we believe and what is true isn’t always the same thing. Our family, friends, neighbors and coworkers need someone to show them what happens when we overcome our self-image, live in and live out of our true potential. Be that person for them. Be that person for you.