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.