The first thing you need to accept when reading this is that you can make a difference. The world can be changed a country; a country can be replaced by a region, a region can be changed by a city, a city can be changed by a town, a town can be altered by a neighborhood and a neighborhood can be replaced by one person. One person can make all the difference in this world. Your team will never be celebrated with a losing team mindset, and you need to be the one person to come in and change that.
Think With The Long Run in Mind
I learned about long-term thinking from learning from massive companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook. When you have a long-term mindset, you rarely are phased by the short-term concerns that the rest of the world focuses on.
The long-term mindset means that your team does not unravel with a loss, an injury, or when someone who does not buy in quits. When a team is focused on the short term, it loses focus often because of short-term issues. When short-term problems are magnified all things fall apart.
The long-term is connected to the vision. For your team, this means winning a championship. That is always the goal, and it is up to you to bring up the long-term vision often and what it will take to get there. Long-term thinking is the reason that you are putting to work every day. Anytime a team loses focused on the long-term goal; the short term problems become the focus.
Getting people to buy into a long-term vision may be difficult, but it is needed for change. It has to start with one person buying in before others will do the same.
Realistic Thinking Day to Day
Now in contrast to the long-term thinking is being very practical day to day. What that means is realizing that you want to be champions, but since you had a losing season last year your team has a long way to go to get there. It means that day to day you still suck. Day to day you all need to:
- Eat better
- Build character
- Lead better
- Be more accountable
- Work your tails off
- Listen to your coaches
- Execute on plans
- Do well in the classroom
- Be respectful
- Study film
- Be on time for everything
- Follow through on commitments
The list above could go on for days. Day to day thinking must come from a realistic place because your day to day choices need to be excellent. Think about this for a second. If you focus on the long run day to day, some people will act as if the long-term vision is going to come alive merely because they want it to and they focus on it.
The long-term vision is the why, and it gives you a reason to get up in the morning. It gives you an idea to push harder in practice, but it just serves as a reminder. Day to day you still have a lot of work to do.
Almost every losing team is filled with people looking for a quick way to succeed. If you want to be the change on your side, you need to start pushing a culture that does not tolerate shortcuts.
When I was in college, we used to have these Sunday shake out practices sometimes. The reason our coach gave us them is that we had tough practices Saturday and he knew a lot of people would go out later. The Sunday practice served as recovery to make sure we were ready for Monday.
From the teams’ point of view, it was coaching running the one day off of the week. Most people on the team did not do this. I did not join them in their views. Grabbed my roommate and went out to the dew covered field and hid that workout nice and early. I did not want to, but I understood that the shortcut culture had to change or we would always suck.
Look at your team, and look at your own life and eliminate any areas where shortcuts are being taken. You can’t be great taking the easy route. Being the best is hard and to get there is going to require challenge and difficulty.
Have Player Led Practices
Both in high school and college, I encouraged my coaches to give me the responsibility of training on my own. Oddly to me, some kids only can train hard when their coach is watching. I like to make sure I work even hard when he is not. When my coach is sometimes watching I want to impress him, but even more critical when I am alone, I want to impress myself. That should matter to you.
When players lead, it gives the opportunity for leaders to step up. Having leaders on the team is vital to a successful coach. There needs to be someone on the team who continues to push what coach is saying.
If the coach is always talking about making great choices off the field, then the leaders make sure they roam parties to make sure their teammates are doing just that. That type of leadership is priceless.
Coaches tend to be control freaks. It takes a leader to go up to them and say that they don’t need to be there. The team will take care of things and get everything done. These words are gold to a coach because it means people are buying in and they understand how to operate this program.
There is no way to get around the importance of ownership. Great teams operate with an understanding that blame does absolutely nothing. You have to own your role and your own mistakes to be successful.
When you blame someone else for anything in life what it does is take away your power. It means that you can do nothing to control the outcome but the other person can. If you get a terrible grade for example, and you blame the teacher instead of yourself you miss way to get better.
If you blame the teacher:
- She must change
- You will wait for her to do so
If you blame yourself:
- You could have studied longer
- You could have been more focused
- should have gotten extra help
- You should have gotten a tutor
You see the difference there? The blame on yourself means that you can come up with an action plan quickly and put it into play. When you blame others, you just hope and wait for someone else to make a change that they are not likely to make.
100% ownership means that in every way you are looking for how you can improve. Even when you have every right to be upset, and every right to the point that finger, you take the high road. Like Michelle Obama said, when they go low, we go high right?
All In as One Unit
The second part of taking ownership is also realizing that once you get better, you are still only as good as your weakest link. The weak link will eventually break you meaning that everyone on the team needs to be all in.
All in as one unit means that when one person messes up the whole group is going to feel the pain for it. When one person wins, the entire team is going to celebrate.
Marriage is an excellent example of this when you get married two people become one. If my wife is hurting, I have to hurt her. If she gets a new job and is excited, then I have to come along side her and be happy.
Being all in together means you win and lose together. If one succeeds and another loses then you both lose. Most people see this as being a coaches job, but it is not. It is the responsibility of the team leaders. If they don’t buy into work to bring everyone together, the team will never come together.