I have been thinking quite a bit lately about teams & organizations. What makes them click? What makes them tick? What makes teams more successful than others? Why are their teams that make winning look so easy?
On the surface it will appear I am talking about sports teams, but deep down I am discussing more than just that. I want to dig down to the fundamentals of not only teams but businesses and organizations and what does it take exactly for X amount of people to be able to cooperate, communicate and coexist with one another...putting the team first and the individual second? Let’s get to it!
I watch football occasionally, so I am not going to claim that I am a fan by any means, but the Detroit Lions suck right now. Its humiliating...I bet a college football team could beat them. So, wherein lies the issue? Is it a lack of talent? Did firing Matt Millen, the team president cause any drastic changes? Are they calling the wrong plays? What will it take for the Detroit Lions to win a super bowl or to win a single game!? Should they just quit playing for the rest of the season? Why should they even keep trying? Are they learning anything from this terrible season?
I read a great article about one month ago in Men’s Journal titled, Brotherhood of the Offensive Lineman of the New York Giants, the reigning super bowl champions-take a look. (I bolded what really stood out to me. )
No other unit in any sport must function as symbiotically as an offensive line. Baseball infielders work in sync, but only sporadically. Basketball players are all over the place. Soccer players too. Rowers work together, but their mission is too simple to count. Defensive linemen — usually a threesome or a quartet — run coordinated stunts, but basically they’re lone assassins. The offensive line, however, fanning out from the center, who is always drawn on blackboards as a circle with an “x” through it while the others are simply circles, must correctly choose their targets, hold their blocks simultaneously and in cohesion, and remain engaged to the end, or else the dam is breached, the wall torn asunder. And they do it in near obscurity.
"Playing O-line you have to take your ego, put it in your back pocket, and zip it up," says Jim Covert, the former Pro Bowl left tackle for the Chicago Bears during their Walter Payton/Jim McMahon heyday. "When you win, you had nothing to do with it. Lose, it’s all your fault. You play against first- and second-down defensive linemen, third-down rushers, specialists coming in and out — 70 or so plays, and if you’re successful 68 times, with two plays being a sack and a tackle-for-loss, you failed."
It takes a tight line to be effective. And it’s hard to find a tighter group than these Giants. Seubert has described them as operating like five fingers of the same hand (making sure to point out that O’Hara is the middle finger). They’ve been together for four years, an eternity in pro football. They eat together at team dinners, barbecue together, and last spring they were at Seubert’s Celebrity Trap Shoot charity event together in Wisconsin. Fifteen-hundred-plus pounds of meat and loaded weapons?
Their durability is a big part of their success. Snee has started 48 straight regular-season games. McKenzie and Seubert started every game last year, including the four play-off games. O’Hara missed only the wild-card game at Tampa Bay with a knee injury. Diehl has started every game (86) the Giants have played since he was drafted out of the University of Illinois in 2003. And, of course, they all played like seasoned vets in the Giants’ 17-14 Super Bowl win over the Patriots.
"They’re such a close-knit group of guys in the first place," Manning says. "Then to have the same five guys for four years? That’s rare."
They spend so much time with one another that, as O’Hara puts it, "by the end of the season, we’re finishing each other’s sentences."
"It’s like ESP," says McKenzie. "It gets to be scary at times."
Which leads to the most transcendent of athletic quests: performing hard things in cohesion without even speaking, the ephemeral realm where the whole becomes far greater than the sum of its parts. It is an offensive lineman’s vision of perfection. "You’ll be on the road where it’s loud and hostile, and all five guys are on the same page, and you play nonverbally," says Diehl. "To not even talk? To go off of looks? Unless you’re an offensive lineman, you don’t know."
Isn't that an incredible article? This just about sums it up for me. The individuals of the team really need to ditch the ego and do what is best for the team always.
Now the big question at hand...do the Detroit Lions deserve a bailout just as GM, Chrysler & Ford are begging? Do the Lions need a financial bailout or an attitude bailout? Don't mind the details on what type of bailout it will be...but what will they learn from a bailout and how will they grow from it?
My point is this, they aren't going to learn a darn thing. If the Feds bailout the Big Three, what are we teaching the Big Three and what are we teaching the American people? I understand that the Big 3 are claiming that by not bailing them out the economy will be effected even worse-I get it. And yes I don't want more people to lose their jobs...but what the economy of the United States is experiencing is much more than just a temporary cold. Being injected with millions of dollars won't solve the problem.
The problem lies within the people of the organization. If we bailout the Big 3 are they even going to change their business model? Times like these cause people to change, grow and adapt. And after the bailout are people going to all of the sudden start buying cars? I don't think so.
What separates the good from the great are people who can take ownership of their failure, digest it, learn from it and become more successful for experiencing that failure. I don't know how much the Detroit Lions are being paid to lose this season. But in the world in which I play business...if I lose I don't make any money, I actually lose money for failing. Risk vs. Reward. This is what the American people are all about, when you trip and fall, you get back up, don't you ever quit-that is what everybody else does. How many of the Detroit Lions team players have quit? How many of them have walked, threw in the towel and said, "I'm done playing football"?
Achieving success can be hard. But guess what, you can do hard things. Never give up!