This newsletter comes to you from the balcony of my condo in the Florida Keys. After a busy week of teambuilding with a client last week, I’m pausing this week to take a “mini retirement” in Islamorada. It is a working vacation of sorts because several of my most important clients are here. It is only fitting that after a week of teambuilding Islamorada is my destination and this newsletter is about teambuilding. Islamorada’s motto is, a village of islands, sounds paradoxical doesn’t it? It strikes me that every family workplace and team is a village of islands. I believe we are each islands within a larger village. Alone the island can be weak and is isolated yet together they are strong and unified. Each of us truly needs all of us in order to be successful.
During my morning run I saw some sights that reinforced this village of islands teamwork theme:
- Seven geese flying in their famous V formation above the water. Demonstrating that collective efficiency helps each individual on the team work more effectively.
- A lone purple bougainvillea flower growing amidst a thorn bush. Proof that an individual CAN flourish even in the most adverse or toxic environments.
- A cinderblock wall which had one crushed block at the center of it yet the wall stood strong. Reinforcing again that each of us needs all of us to stand tall.
When we arrived yesterday, our family sat down to watch the NFL divisional championship games. It was a teachable moment. Our daughters are very competitive with one another and I wanted them to see that the coaches from the two winning teams are siblings who will compete against each other in the Super Bowl in two weeks. San Francisco Forty Niners coach Jim Harbaugh and his older brother John coach of the Baltimore Ravens are in the spotlight at the pinnacle of their profession. But my favorite Harbaugh has always been their father Jack who toiled away in relative obscurity on a 43 year college coaching career. Why? Simply because of the way he has raised his children. It reminds me of a village of islands.
There are four lessons we can take from Jack Harbaugh’s parental coaching and apply directly to our personal and professional lives.
1. Attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. This is the advice Jack Harbaugh gave his sons each morning when he dropped them off at elementary school. These turned out to be words to live by for both sons. It is advice we can all benefit from. The attitude you take is a decision you make. And each day you can choose to be positive or choose to be negative. You can see things through a set of eyes that sees the good or a set that sees the bad. The choice is yours and enthusiasm is a force multiplier in any endeavor.
How big of an impact did this have? Both Jim and John use this same mantra with their teams. Jim was even quoted as saying this at his introductory press conference when he took the Forty Niners job.
Coaching Point: How are you reminding yourself and your people to look at the day with a positive set of eyes.
2. Don’t engage in comparisons. It ultimately devalues one of the two parties involved. The media is always searching for some drama to add flavor to a story. Before the Harbaugh’s teams met during the 2011 regular season on Thanksgiving Day, Jack advised the two of them not to comment in the media on comparisons reporters make between the two of them. Why? Because ultimately comparisons only end up devaluing one of the two individuals.
How big of an impact did this have? The brothers are hyper competitive yet they have made this a shared policy which will continue through the Super Bowl media hype.
Coaching Point: Consider creating a no comparison policy between employees or between you and the competition. Focus your village of islands on what you can control” doing great work.
3. “Who’s got it better than us? NOBODY!” This is the Harbaugh family motto as instilled in them by parents Jack and Jackie. It is a question Jack and Jackie would ask their three children as a reminder to be grateful that they are fortunate to have all that they do. Instead of focusing on what you or your people don’t have, focus on what you do have and maximize its value. I like this attitude of gratitude so much it has become my mantra with my children to remind them of the blessings we enjoy each day.
How big of an impact did this have? The San Francisco Forty Niners break every huddle and end every team meeting by shout this phrase together. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcXOU6NZZAw
Coaching Point: What’s your team’s rally cry going to be? Give them something inspirational that they can get behind and it will become positively contagious.
4. “Get ahead” “Stay ahead.” When each of his sons asked his advice headed into the division championship game, he gave fatherly advice not “coach-speak.” In other words he knew that his grown children at the pinnacle of their profession could figure it out themselves. He simply told them “get ahead stay ahead.” When asked why he explained, I’ve allowed them with the wisdom and knowledge that they have to come upon that for themselves. This is what great parents leaders coaches and mentors do. They guide by creating a framework where their people can figure it out for themselves. How are you building a similar framework for people you work with?
How big of an impact did this have? Some may say none, because both teams fell behind early in their games. However by not comparing themselves to the opposition focusing on what they can control and attacking the day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind they each came back and won their respective games. This is proof that it’s not how you start it’s how you finish. Finish STRONG!
Coaching Point: How can you or your team get ahead and stay ahead in your role? Huddle up and brainstorm what getting ahead and staying ahead would look like, sound like, and feel like in your industry. Then go do it!