The car door slammed shut and my son’s fourth grade body leapt into the back seat of my car. His football pads rattled back and forth as he slid into his seat and his tiny, smiling face looked at me through the gigantic helmet consuming his head.
“How did practice go today, buddy?” I asked with a very inquisitive tone.
You see, this was his second year playing youth football and his team was not off to the best of starts. My son was playing quarterback and lets just say that the offensive line had not quite “gelled” yet. The team was 0-3 and most of the offensive plays consisted of my son getting the snap and immediately getting mobbed in the backfield.
My wife and I kept watching his response in each game. We kept imagining that it must be a frustrating experience for all of them, especially our son. So, we were very interested in learning how he was doing with the experience.
“So how do you think the season is going so far?” I probed from the driver seat as we began our drive home.
“Okay, I think,” my son responded with a somewhat upbeat tone.
“Are you having fun?” I continued.
“Yes,” he responded quickly.
“What has been your favorite thing so far this season?” I probed further.
…and then a big smile stretched across his face as I glanced in the rearview mirror.
“Our team,” he said with excitement and conviction. “I think we have a really good team.”
Their record sure didn’t tell that story. His bumps and bruises from being tackled each play in the backfield pointed to a different diagnosis on the “success” of this team. In fact, almost every metric — yards gained, points scored, wins, etc. did not point to a “good” team.
Still, his comment and spirit reminded me of 3 things about The Irrefutable Power of Teams that we all know, but might be a few inspirational thoughts that we need to be reminded of:
- Belief — Our mindset and attitude is powerful. How we think creates the reality we experience. If we don’t believe in our teammates, our mission, or the experience we are trying to create, then we’ve already lost.
- Progress — Development is not a drive-thru experience, it’s a process. This is extremely difficult to remember in an instantaneous-gratification culture we live in today. Progress is possible when our belief carries over into practice, patience, and intentional coaching to improve our performance.
- Best 11, Not 11 Best — Legendary coach, Vince Lombardi, was right when he said the truly successful teams were the ones who figured out that the process wasn’t about discovering who your 11 best players were and putting them on the field, but rather about identifying the best 11 players that played well together. It’s not about individuals, it’s about the team.
The power in the experience is in learning what it means to be a part of a team. That is true in little league and it’s true in our families, friendships, and absolutely with our teams at work or the organizations we care most deeply about. The best teams on the planet make success possible by first buying into what it means to be a part of a team.
With the teams and organizations I’m privileged to get to serve and support, the ones who are committed to developing leaders, team culture, and clarity around their mission, vision and values, are the best. Hands down. The Best.
Oh, and for you keeping score at home and wondering about how my son’s season ended up — they ended up winning their final 3 games. Something clicked. Players who hadn’t made plays all year began shocking everyone. Momentum shifted and progress happened.
My son was right, they “had a really good team.”
Good luck with the process of strengthening the teams in your life and work!
Jason Barger is a globally celebrated author, keynote speaker, and leadership consultant. More importantly, he’s striving to be an above average father, husband, and friend.
Follow on Twitter @JasonVBarger and learn more at JasonVBarger.com