Patrick Sallee, on how the surprising KC Royals are showing us how to do it the John Wooden way.
“It’s amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.” – Coach John Wooden
I played basketball at a small college in Oklahoma. Every day I walked in the locker room I saw that quote from legendary UCLA men’s basketball coach, John Wooden painted on the wall above the row of lockers where I sat. I had been aware of this quote, but seeing it every day and experiencing what it really means, changed my perspective.
Today, this quote crosses my mind at least once a week, if not more often. It is relevant to everything we do. Recently, I have been reminded of this on a more regular basis as I watch the Kansas City Royals’ magical run to the World Series. Their words are backed up by their actions and their success is right there for all to see.
Like many fans in KC, on Wednesday after they finished off the sweep of the Orioles, I couldn’t get enough of the TV coverage. Without fail, each and every player, coach, front office staff, even ownership, did two things when asked for their thoughts. First, they mentioned someone else on the team or in the organization who did something special to make this happen. Many times it was specific by name. Lorenzo Cain talking about Alex Gordon; Gordon talking about Mike Moustakas; Moustakas talking about Eric Hosmer…on and on it went. Second, they all mentioned the fans and how much this city and these fans deserve this.
The thing that makes this team so special right now is that they mean it. They genuinely play the game with so passion, energy and commitment and without a care for who has the game winning RBI…because it doesn’t matter…winning matters.
The attitude they represent can be used in our approach to daily life and everything we do that involves a team…which is almost everything: work, parenting, marriage, friendship, church, volunteer work. Following are three of their most impactful practices that we can adopt in our lives.
1. Genuine excitement for each other
Recognizing it takes everyone involved to get to a good outcome, genuine excitement for others’ success goes a long way to reaching our goals. Every time they show the Royals bench on television the guys are clapping, cheering and encouraging their teammates.
Often work environments can be internally competitive, whether over sales goals, promotions, or opportunities. While this can be a challenge to overcome, a team that is truly successfully is filled with people who care more about team success. Winners are excited for the wins of others, because they know it improves the outcome for all involved.
2. Intense – and steady – focus on the goal
One of the things that is so fun to watch is watching teams that play with a palpable intensity, as they strive for the goal they are trying to reach. They do not allow anything to get in the way or distract them from that outcome, whether those obstacles and distractions come externally or internally.
The Royals play an intense brand of baseball. They also demonstrate this quality through their commitment to their manager, Ned Yost. Despite of plenty of reasons to question, the team seems to have never wavered, understanding the goal and not allowing any outside opinions to get in the way.
You often see people and teams distracted by the next shiny thing, a new opportunity or the desire to keep up with your neighbors and friends. But an intense focus on the real goal you are striving gives you a greater chance at success.
3. Unwavering confidence
No matter what the score, or game situation, the Royals have been carrying themselves in these playoffs with a confidence you often don’t see. There is absolutely no doubt in their minds they will find a way to win…and they keep doing it! Whether it was when they were down by four runs late in the wild card game to Oakland or giving up leads on the road to both Anaheim and Baltimore, you never saw their confidence shaken.
What is it you or your team is trying to accomplish? Getting there requires an unwavering belief that you will find a way. It may not be the direct line you planned or the easiest way, but in order to get there, you will find a way.
There is a reason people from all over the country have enjoyed watching the Royals play. They are a great team. They are not necessarily a great baseball club, but by being a great TEAM they are proving that amazing things can be accomplished.
Here’s hoping they take The Crown.
Photo Credit: Associated Press/Jeff Roberson