Sunday, December 12, 2010

"It's Not About You" - Maybe the Most Important Idea Players Need to Understand

This statement is one we've been using a lot with our team this year - it's one we repeat many times a practice. Coach Liesener and I have read Tony Dungy's book on mentor leadership and it's something that's been a great resource for us this year. One of the biggest things I have found in that book is the idea that it's not about me. It's about helping everyone else. This team isn't about me or my feelings, desires, or career plan. This team is about me serving everyone else, doing my best to make everyone else a better player, coach, and person. I think that is a mentality that has been lost, or at least over looked, in our "what have you done for me lately" and "I love me some me" society. It's a lot easier to focus on the stats, the playing time, the wins and the losses.

However the idea of "it's not about me" hasn't been completely lost. Look at many of the sports teams that have sustained success over the last number of years and you can see this idea at work. Look at the LA Lakers over the last couple of years. Kobe didn't start winning titles on his own until it stopped being all about him and started being all about the team. They have gotten guys like Lamar Odom and Ron Artest to take complimentary roles because they have bought into the fact that everyone else is more important, that the team is more important than they are. Look at the Patriots, everyone's darling when it comes to this sort of thing. Why do you think they are great year after year, no matter who they lose. I mean they lost Tom Brady for an entire year and still were able to keep things rolling with unknown Matt Cassel at the helm. Why? Because they mentor each other, they help each other to get ready. Matt Cassel was ready because all of his teammates were making him better every day. It's the positive mentor vibe of the organization that keeps everyone going. They are also willing to part with a player when they are not fitting the tone that the organization wants - no matter how talented that player is. On teams like the Patriots and Lakers you never hear about a player unhappy with their role, because, for the most part, the players understand that it's not about them. It's about everyone else.

I think the bottom line is, as a coach, you have to get your players to understand that it's not about you, it's about everyone else. Once you can get the servant/mentor leadership mentality built into your program, you have come a long way. You will find that players really do start worrying only about making the team/program better. They worry the most about each other and the team. Stats matter less, and even the wins and losses are a little less important. Yes, you still worry about them, but you focus more on the process of achieving the sole goal - making everyone around you better.

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