We’ve moved on from football to basketball. Last night we were at my son’s tournament championship game. They had won all three of their games. The air was charged. School friends and cheerleaders were in attendance; there was announcing of the players and the singing of the National Anthem. Watching the previous girl’s game wrap up, I saw the runner-up team receive a trophy and the championship team receive a trophy and individual medals. Each girl was called by name as her coach presented her with the medal.
Our game began evenly matched – or so it seemed. It was fast-paced and physical. The other team was unstoppable, however. They maneuvered the ball well and sunk nearly all of their shots. They were amazing! Our team received the tournament runner-up trophy and the champions were crowned. When it came time for the coach to hand out the medals, he was was reminded to present them to the members of the team. Instead, he held up the group of medals in his hand and said, “We are the Cougars. We are a team. There are no individuals.”
I was really impressed by the coach’s words. I believe that a strong team is just that – a team working together. As I watch the Cleveland Cavaliers, they appear to be a team now. With LeBron James, who was no denying a superstar and very fun to watch, the team seems to rely on each other more and play as a team.
I believe it is possible to have superstars on a team, but I also believe a successful team requires leadership. How does one inspire excellence and success? I believe there is a physical component but, mostly, psychological component. A coach like Lou Holtz, for example, who demonstrated success as a coach, could motivate his players.
How about Ernest Shackleton? He must have been a leader to get people to respond to this ad:
“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”
Endurance is one of my favorite books. I’m amazed at the ability of Shackleton to assemble a group of men willing to go on an antarctic mission, to lead them into it and successfully lead them out of their ordeal of being trapped in pack ice. It’s an amazing story of survival – and leadership. (The photographs of this expedition are equally amazing.)