My team recently won the Indy South side indoor soccer championship. This meant a lot to me because this was the third time we tried for this championship after coming short the past 2 seasons. Let me tell you how we got here. My previous team was dissolved by the leader who decided to join another team in search of greener pastures. I tried playing in teams with lesser talent but as we lost game after game, I realized I needed to employ one of my life philosophies, that you need a good team around you to win. And so I set about to create this new team. I invited players I knew were talented, but it was a challenge to get them to play partly because my new team had no name recognition. Slowly, but surely, we started to build a core team. My vision of winning was embraced by all, in fact we had team members that wanted to win more than I did… but we failed. The first season, we got to the finals and fell short. The second season, we could not even play a single game as we were rocked with injuries from the first season. The third time, we won a resounding victory. Here are lessons I learned on what it takes to build a championship team.
1.) It takes Time: Winning a championship does not always happen overnight. Sometimes, you have to fail to succeed. Sometimes, you have to take a step backward to move forward. Sometimes, you have to wait your turn. In all remember that delay is not denial – stay the course.
2.) It takes Communication: Everyone in the team needs to understand that they have a right to speak up and that their opinion will be valued. It may not be adhered to but it will be valued. They need to be encouraged to air their views in a respective and constructive fashion. We turned the corner from a bunch of losing talented individuals to a winning team when a member spoke up and said were working too hard individually, that we needed to share responsibility as a team.
3.) It takes Failing: Mostly learning from the failures. We had to fail, get beat up physically in order to learn to succeed. Our failures reminded us of how badly we disliked failing. Our failing kindled the fire in us to succeed – and succeed we did!
4.) It takes Tenacity: This is somewhat different from persistence, in that it takes the ability to figure out new ways to solve the same old losing problem. It does not just mean to keep trying again season after season, it also means mining NEW strategies learned from mistakes and failure, and applying these to the next season or the next game.
5.) It takes Trust: We started winning when we started to trust each other. When we agreed that each member of the team is good at what he does and so we must trust him to carry the ball. We trust his judgement, that he will do something of value with the ball. We trust him not to waste the opportunities we create.
6.) It takes Shared Responsibility and Shared Credit: We learned to move the ball amongst ourselves. To share it. This strategy has multiple advantages. It helped us conserve energy. It depleted the energy of the opponent as they found themselves chasing the ball most of the game. It boosted our confidence and gave us the opportunity to dictate the terms of the game. At the end of the game, we shared the credit. Everyone got applauded for their effort. It was no individual genius that made winning possible, it was a team effort.
7.) It takes Kindness to Opponents: I noticed that when we started befriending opponents and cheering them on in the games where they did not play against us, they started to open up to us and we started to do well. I don’t know if it is a psychological thing but I know that we stopped playing them out of spite, anger or disdain. We played them competitively out of respect for them as individuals, wanting and knowing we will win.
8.) It takes Calling People Out (Accountability): One of the methods we imbibed, as hard as it is, was calling ourselves out publicly. We gave each other permission to call us out when we were irresponsible with the ball. I knew that if I was careless with the ball, I will get called out and so I made sure to make each possession count. This did not stifle our creativity or decision making, in that we were at liberty to do what we felt was best for the team at any particular moment – just not to be careless with the ball.
9.) It takes a Reserve Bench: The first 2 seasons, we played very thinly because we did not have enough staff. The starting team played every minute of the game, from start to finish. While we started games well, we started to get fatigued as the game wore on and got into tired stretches which allowed opposing teams open big leads on us. In the 3rd season however, we had 2 players in our reserve bench and this made a huge difference. This allowed us take a breather, to rest, recover and come back more refreshed. It also accorded us the opportunity to us see the action from the outside, from another perspective, and then strategize real time how we could make a difference when we got back in.
I’ve shared with you, these 9 practical tips that helped me and will help you build a winning team in your organization, church, school or whatever endeavor of life you may find yourself. Now go and build your winning team!