Book Notes

The Hard Hat: 21 Ways to Be a Great Teammate

Book cover for The Hard Hat: 21 Ways to Be a Great Teammate
Jon Gordon

The book is built on George Boiar­di, a col­lege lacrosse play­er who died after tak­ing a hit to the chest from a ball dur­ing a game. His char­ac­ter inspired the 21 ways out­lined in this book. (More info about George is avail­able on Vimeo​.com.

The first half of the book is all sto­ries about George’s spir­it, char­ac­ter, habits, etc. He def­i­nite­ly seems like a per­son we’d all be bet­ter for know­ing. Lit­tle lessons are sprin­kled into this sec­tion of the book, but it’s most­ly set­ting the stage for the 21 ways” in the sec­ond half.

Nat­u­ral­ly, with a theme cen­tered around lacrosse, much of the book has a slant on the con­text of team which leans towards sports. While some of the phras­ing is spe­cif­ic to sports, the core lessons can be applied to being on any type of team.

This is a quick read, like all of Gordon’s books, and has some good things to think about. There isn’t a lot of sub­stance, but some­times that’s the point. Sim­ple ideas are still worth read­ing and re-read­ing and I think this book fits into that mold.

These are the 21 ways to be a great team­mate. The book chunks them up into a title, an exam­ple from George’s life, and the les­son” to be learned. I’ve select­ed a hand full of the 21 ways and have includ­ed the descrip­tion from the book. If you’d like to read all of them, I’d encour­age you to grab a copy of the book.

1. Sweat More

A team mem­ber, one of the things you con­trol every day is your effort. When you work hard­er and sweat more, you bring out the best in your­self and your team.

2. Remem­ber WDWS

There’s noth­ing wrong with words. Some­times we need an inspir­ing mes­sage. Some­times we need to be chal­lenged and encour­aged. Even George occa­sion­al­ly told the team to”pick it up” when he felt they weren’t giv­ing their best effort. But remem­ber that, as a team­mate, you speak most pow­er­ful­ly through your actions. Well said (WS) is impor­tant, but well done (WD) is always bet­ter, hence: WD > WS. Set the exam­ple in all that you do, so when you speak, peo­ple will lis­ten because you have earned their respect by what you have com­mu­ni­cat­ed with your actions.

3. Choose to Be Hum­ble and Hungry

4. Pur­sue Excellence 

Each day, it’s impor­tant to wake up and strive to be bet­ter today than you were yes­ter­day. Iden­ti­fy what you need to work on to get bet­ter and focus on improv­ing each day. Don’t set­tle for aver­age. Instead, chase great­ness. Real­ize that every­one wants to do what the great ones do but few are will­ing to do what they did to become great. Be will­ing. Be hum­ble and hun­gry. Pur­sue excel­lence. To help your­self and your team, imple­ment the 1 per­cent rule, which says that a lit­tle more time, ener­gy, effort, prac­tice, focus, and care can bring big results. If you can push your­self to give just 1 per­cent more dur­ing each prac­tice, each game, each film ses­sion, each class, each home­work assign­ment, and each project, over time you will see big results.

5. Share Pos­i­tive Con­ta­gious Energy

As a team mem­ber, you not only con­trol your effort but you also con­trol your atti­tude. One of the most pow­er­ful things you can do to be a great team­mate is to stay pos­i­tive and share your pos­i­tive ener­gy with oth­ers. Research shows atti­tudes and emo­tions are con­ta­gious, and each day you can either infuse your team with pos­i­tive ener­gy or infect them with neg­a­tive ener­gy. You can be a germ or a big dose of vit­a­min C. When you share pos­i­tive ener­gy, you enhance the mood, morale, and per­for­mance of your team.

6. Don’t Complain

There are times when things don’t go our way. There are sit­u­a­tions that seem unfair. There are moments when we feel like we have a right to com­plain. But com­plain­ing caus­es us to focus on every­thing but being our best. When you work hard, stay pos­i­tive, and do what the team needs, things always seem to work out. To be a great team­mate, don’t com­plain. Stay pos­i­tive. You can’t always con­trol the events that hap­pen to you, but you can con­trol how you respond and, so often, this deter­mines the outcome.

7. Do It for Your Team, Not for Applause

8. Show You Are Committed

9. Nev­er Take a Play Off

10. Hold Your­self and Your Team Accountable

George’s exam­ple is a sim­ple and pow­er­ful one. To hold your team account­able, you first have to hold your­self account­able. When you expect the best of your­self, you can expect the best from your team, and when you expect the best from your team, they will rise up to meet your expec­ta­tions. To be a great team­mate, you must hold your team­mates account­able to the high stan­dards of excel­lence your cul­ture expects and demands.

11. Treat Every­one with Respect and Expect Every­one to Do the Same

To be a great team­mate, it’s impor­tant to respect and val­ue each per­son for who they are, not what they do. When you respect every­one, as George did, every­one will respect you.

12. Give All and Take Nothing

13. Com­mu­ni­cate

To be a great team­mate, it’s essen­tial to com­mu­ni­cate with your team mem­bers col­lec­tive­ly and indi­vid­u­al­ly. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion builds trust. Trust gen­er­ates com­mit­ment. Com­mit­ment fos­ters team­work, and team­work deliv­ers results. With­out com­mu­ni­ca­tion, you can’t build the trust and rela­tion­ships nec­es­sary for great team­work. Talk­ing in team meet­ings and giv­ing team speech­es isn’t enough. Great com­mu­ni­ca­tion requires one-on-one con­ver­sa­tion that help build rela­tion­ships. In this spir­it, I want to encour­age you to make time to com­mu­ni­cate with your team­mates. Talk on the bus. Talk in the lock­er room. Each with dif­fer­ent team mem­bers each week. Don’t just talk about the work at hand. Talk about your con­cerns and chal­lenges, goals, and dreams. When you are busy and stressed it’s the last thing you want to do, but it’s the most impor­tant thing you can do to build the kind of rela­tion­ships that build great teams.

14. Con­nect

15. Become a Come with Me” Teammate

If you want to be good, focus on mak­ing your­self bet­ter. If you want to be great, focus on mak­ing your­self and your team bet­ter. When you are with your team, iden­ti­fy who would ben­e­fit from your lead­er­ship, help, encour­age­ment, and time and invite them to do some­thing pos­i­tive with you. Do this often, and over time you’ll leave an incred­i­ble legacy.

16. Prac­tice Self­less Compassion

17. Show You Care

18. Be a Loy­al Friend

19. Love Your Team

Love tru­ly is the great­est lead­er­ship prin­ci­ple and team-build­ing strat­e­gy on the plan­et and if you don’t have it, you can’t share it. The truth is, if you don’t love your team, you can nev­er be a great team­mate. Don’t wait for your team to love you; first com­mit to lov­ing them. I learned this les­son in my mar­riage and real­ized that the more I love my wife, the more I love my life. I’m not talk­ing about the pop­u­lar phrase hap­py wife, hap­py life. I’m talk­ing about the fact that the more I focus on lov­ing my wife with­out expect­ing any­thing in return, the more I love my life. It’s not about what she does. It’s about the love I give. As you focus on becom­ing a great team­mate, learn from George and focus on lov­ing your team. While many aver­age play­ers want their team­mates to love them, you can become a great team­mate by lov­ing your team in spir­it and action.

20. Sac­ri­fice

21. Leave the Place Bet­ter than You Found It

All excerpts © 2015 by The Jon Gordon Companies

Thoughts on Business and Life

I occasionally share thoughts on business and life via a newsletter. Sign up here so you don't have to check back to the site for the latest writings.

© 2021 Erik Reagan unless otherwise noted

Some of the links on my site are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. It's basically peanuts, but every little bit will help as I work on self-publishing my first book.