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 WD > WS
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
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.
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.
21. Leave the Place Better than You Found It
All excerpts © 2015 by The Jon Gordon Companies
© 2021 Erik Reagan unless otherwise noted
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