What is the key in achieving great things? I have been thinking about this since the Seahawks’ championship win against the Packers that has had everyone up here in the Pacific Northwest walking around in a glorious euphoria.
In case you missed it here is a quote from QB Russell Wilson’s post game interview that will fill you in on how it shook out.
“These guys on the team are unbelievable–the fight, the relentless fight, over and over again. People used to doubt man… I’m just excited to be on this team. Excited to play with the guys. I mean with four minutes left in the game… three minutes… four interceptions, and we just keep playing and the guys just keep believing in me man. You gotta give credit to the Packers; they had an unbelievable season. And I’m just honored, just honored and blessed to be on this team.”
It kinda sounds like he’s happy to be playing football with his team. This makes me wonder, what is at the heart of teamwork? If I break it down to the most basic level I would have to say that belief in a common goal and belief in the people who are working toward it with you are key. If you believe in what you are doing, and you believe that the people you are working with are capable of achieving great things, you will probably persist until you do.
When the interviewer asked Wilson how the team was able to stay patient and stay with it in the face of such a challenging first half, his answer was simply, “Just keep making the plays; keep believing.” This is teamwork and perseverance in action. He concluded his interview with the statement, “I’m going to the Super Bowl again!” This is the great achievement–the common goal that he and his team have been working towards–Going to the Super Bowl. It is the penultimate season high, second only to winning the Super Bowl.
But if we look back at how they got there, it’s the same process involved in anyone getting anywhere. You start by looking at where you are and deciding where you want to go. You form a personal ideal and find others who share your common vision. Next you and your peeps identify your mission and set objectives that will help you reach your goal. If you want to be SMART about it you set out objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound. Then, you identify a strategy and action plan for getting to where you want to be, you monitor and evaluate your performance in order to identify your weaknesses and you keep getting better. Finally, you look at the impacts and benefits of your efforts.
This process helps in keeping the faith. If everyone can clearly see the goal and the path to getting there it becomes much more real and therefore, much easier to invest belief in. Without the belief that you will prevail, you have no reason to try.
In football it might look like this:
Current Conditions: We are beginning a new season and these are the guys we are working with.
Vision: We have all decided that we want to go to the Super Bowl.
Mission: To be a great, game-winning team.
Objectives: Win the next game… (Is it Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound? Yep.)
Strategy and activities: These are carried out on a game-by-game basis. It reminds me of a piece of advice my high school math teacher always used to give me when I was overwhelmed by a complicated problem. She would ask, “How do you eat a pizza?… One bite at a time.” Cheesy, right? But also totally true. No matter how great or small the achievement, it is accomplished through a series of specific actions. The strategy and activities must be unique to the situation in order to be carried out for maximum effect. You can’t eat a pizza if you are eating a cheeseburger. A big key to getting it right is accurately assessing each situation and responding appropriately. This can be a very demanding process that requires a lot of close attention and involves situations that can only be handled intuitively.
Monitor and evaluate performance: Okay, now this one reminds me of a tired old joke, but I’ll tell it anyway, “Excuse me sir? How do you get to Carnegie Hall?…” Practice, practice, practice. (I know… it’s terrible. I’m sorry.) Artists, Buddhists, athletes, anyone who does anything well will tell you that the key to success is showing up everyday, doing your absolute best, and loving it as much as possible.
If you all believe in the goal and each other, and you and your team have taken the steps to make a clear path, then all you have to do is “Just keep making the plays; keep believing,” and together you will achieve great things!