You can put the most talented players on your team every year. They have head knowledge, they have athleticism. If they don’t perform or if they move on you can replace them with another talented kid. You can cherry pick the best of the best skills at tryouts. You can drill them until they are exhausted. And your team can still fail to meet their expectation. There’s something else you need.
If you don’t grow the culture, build relationships, build value, a mission, then you’ve left out the most powerful part of a team. The human element that can overcome statical impossibilities, that can problem solve in new ways, adapt. If they lose the love of the game or the drive to be a part of something, respect and care for their teammates and coaches, then they won’t be able to tap into and access their full athletic potential.
Players have to have, and feel, a value beyond their physical and technical knowledge and ability. Even the most competitive athletes don’t really compete for a trophy, but for the feeling that comes from the journey to success.
From Jon Gordon’s 14 thoughts about building a great culture, “If you focus on the fruit of the tree (outcomes and numbers) and ignore the root (culture) your tree will die. But if you focus on and nourish the root you always have a great supply of fruit.” (http://www.jongordon.com/positivetip/building-a-great-culture.html)
It’s the same with our players. If we focus on their heart and their purpose, (the root of the individual person on the inside), then the fruit, (their talents and abilities), will grow and produce to their full potential. We can unlock the potential of our teams, break through slumps, blast through ceilings when our team has strong roots. When their internal motivation is switched on because they believe through the transfer of belief from a great coach, supportive teammates, and a clear vision, that they can find greatness.
Coach the heart, lead their minds to seek solutions, build relationships, challenge them, believe in them and see how far your players can go.