I appreciate you.
As the assistant to the assistant basketball coach for my son’s Basketball Team, I was getting frustrated. Our single "A” boys’ basketball team has talent. We’re winning games. For the first time in years, we have more wins than losses, and we have three seniors who are tall, athletic, and can play ball. My frustration was that they weren’t playing as a team. We could be much more effective and have more fun … if we were more of a team.
Sure, there have been moments, but a sustained collaborative effort was not happening. When a guy would make a mistake or get pulled from the game, they would sit on the bench and pout. When a player was having a personal good game, they would get to the bench and talk about how many shots they made. The guys on the bench weren’t supporting the players. Someone would make a great pass and rarely was there a point-out or high five.
The guys were getting frustrated with themselves and the others. Then one dude would take it upon himself to try to win the game all by himself. We don’t have a “LeBron”, so it doesn’t happen. (Nor does it with LeBron, without help from others)
I see the exact scenario being played out in many of the groups I’ve worked with over the years. Businesses, government agencies, school districts – all can get bogged down with lack of pure teamwork.
So last week the Head Coach gave me a whole practice with the team. We didn’t touch a basketball all afternoon.
We did a bunch of experiential exercises; we worked through resentment, and talked … heart to heart.
The most profound exercise was the simplest.
In the last exercise we all sat in a circle. I turned to the player on my right and said, “What do you appreciate about Cal?”, and one by one his teammates would tell him what they appreciated. We went around the circle and everyone had a chance to hear what the others on the team appreciated about them. By the end, a bunch of these boys were in tears and everyone felt better.
What was great is two days later the transformation on and off the court was amazing. Boys passing the ball, high five-ing, diving for balls, helping each other off the floor, the bench on their feet, no complaining when they were pulled off the floor … they were playing as a team. The parents could see it. The players could feel it. And yes we had a win; but more importantly, the boys starting seeing the potential of really playing like a team.
We are always greater together than we are individually. And it starts with appreciation.