|Barbara Mintzer's Newsletter
The Power of a Vision... a Leader's Journey
October was one exciting month for me! I do not watch baseball the rest of the year, but when October rolls around, I am glued to the League Championship Series and the World Series. I certainly was not disappointed this year. While I am a former New Yorker and a Yankees fan at heart, I had to give it to the Boston Red Sox. They fought for each and every game they played, and they deserve to be called the Champions. As I watched the Red Sox come from behind to win four straight games from the Yankees and then go on to win the World Series in four straight games from the St. Louis Cardinals, I looked for lessons we could all learn from this remarkable "comeback" team. Let's take a look at what this team taught us that we can apply to our own lives and our own careers.
1. They were down, but they were not out: Even when the Red Sox were three games down against the Yankees, they didn't give up. Another team might have said "why bother, one more loss and we're finished anyway" but the Red Sox didn't. They played their hearts out each and every game...one pitch at a time...one game at a time...and they came back. They refused to allow themselves to be intimidated. This is such a terrific lesson for us to learn. We all have our share of disappointments and setbacks, both personally and professionally. The trick is to look at these disappointments and setbacks, learn from them, and MOVE ON . We cannot let the problems in our lives define who we are. If we do, we will never be able to move beyond them to reach our full potential and enjoy life to the fullest. As many of you know, I have a t-shirt which I am wearing now as I write this Newsletter that says I'm not pushed by my problems...I'm led by my dreams! I have to continually remind myself of that, particularly when I am having a bad day, and I'm ready to throw in the towel. I had a dream to do the work I do, to make a difference in the world, and I can't allow the everyday frustrations of running a business rob me of my dream. I have control over my life, and I can choose how I react. The Red Sox team reminded me of that lesson once again.
2. They were team players: The team operated as one unit, determined to make their dream a reality...to win the World Series for the first time in 86 years. There were outstanding plays and outstanding players in every game, but when the players were interviewed after each game, nobody would take credit personally. Each and every player said it was a team effort. When the team lost a game, they would go over the videotape of the game to look at the mistakes made to see how to correct them. The errors were analyzed without any finger-pointing and judgments against the players who made the errors. A cohesive, tightly-knit team knows that one team member may make a mistake today, and tomorrow it could be someone else. Mistakes are analyzed to see what can be learned from them. Nobody becomes a scapegoat on a winning team, and when one member of the team needs a boost in morale or a shoulder to lean on, the other members are there for him/her. With baseball players, they are on the road and away from home so often, the team really does substitute for the family. Our work teams need not substitute for our families, but the teams must operate from the concepts of shared values, shared goals, and a mutual respect for each other.
3. They had a strong sense of commitment: Each and every member of the team was committed to doing what it took to win the World Series. Nothing was too great a task if it would help them achieve their goal. After a game was played, the entire team sat down to watch the videotape of that game. This was done whether the Red Sox lost or won the game. Every play by both teams was analyzed, and many a night the players stayed up half the night analyzing the game to see what they could learn from what they saw. The team also felt a very strong commitment to their fans, who are collectively called The Red Sox Nation. They wanted to win for their fans who had supported them year after heartbreaking year when they came so close but lost. The team was aware of the bigger picture, of the role models they were for young boys all over this country who watched not only great baseball, but a terrific piece of sports history being played out. Above all, until the last pitch was pitched...until the last out was made...they were committed to winning the World Series in spite of what the outside circumstances looked like. What does it take to have that sense of commitment? I believe it takes faith. Faith in oneself that you have what it takes to achieve your goal, and faith in the universe that you will get a fair shot at achieving it. When you look at ordinary people achieving extraordinary things, and you ask them "how did you do it?" most people will tell you that they always had faith that they could do it. Some will tell you that they started out to achieve their goal with the faith that if this particular goal was not reachable, some other goal would be and they would ultimately end up where they needed to be. That's the kind of faith that you need to make things happen.
4. They respected each other's differences: The Red Sox are a team comprised of men from many different backgrounds and cultures. Each man brings his "uniqueness" to the team. However, for the team to function, each man's differences must be respected. Some of the men are more egotistical than others; some are more temperamental; and others are more needy (sound a little like your team?) The important thing here is that conflicts and grievances are handled within the team, and when they go out to achieve their goal, those conflicts and grievances are put aside. The team goes out as one to do their job. What does that teach us in our workplaces today? Many of us work in companies, organizations, hospitals, medical facilities, etc., where the work team is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural. We may not understand why some people believe or behave the way they do, but we must respect their right to be who they are. Now, if someone is doing something that is illegal or blatantly against company policy, that is another story. But if it is just another person's way of viewing situations or behaving, we must accommodate for that. I was very touched recently by a woman who told me she is part of a team who has as a team leader, a woman who encourages, almost pushes, everyone to give their opinions at meetings. This team leader thrives on the "tension" that is created when people disagree, as she believes out of these discussions come real innovation and creativity. She may be right, however, this poor woman on the team was brought up to believe that conformity is the proper way of behaving, and disagreeing would be seen as rude and improper. I advised this woman to sit down with her team leader and explain her situation, and ask for some patience and understanding. The team leader needs to be aware of the anxiety her beliefs are causing in one of her members, and she may have to re-assess her expectations of her team based on the diversity of its members.
5. They had an attitude of gratitude: for being given the chance to participate in the World Series. When they won four games in a row from the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series they were gracious in their praise of the other team, even though it was a sweep. It was heartwarming to listen to some of the players who come from the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico and many other countries describe what a feeling it is to play in the United States and be a part of this team in this country. These men are heroes back home, but here in America they are now part of a winning team. They also know this may never happen again. It took 86 years to happen this time! But they are very grateful to be here, at this moment in time, to have done what they have done. When interviewed, each and every player without exception, expressed gratitude to God, to his teammates, his manager and his family for being given the chance to make history. An attitude of gratitude goes a long way in helping us live in the moment and savor what this moment has to offer.
So...how about your team? Look at your team. Are all the members of your team aligned behind a shared goal, and is everyone working towards making that goal a reality? When times get tough or your team has some disappointments, do you have a "we're down but not out" attitude? Are grievances and conflicts handled so that you still operate as a cohesive team when you go out and do your job? Do you have an attitude of gratitude for being able to do the vital and necessary work you do? If you cannot answer yes to the above four questions, it may be time to sit down with your team and share these questions with them. The feedback you get may be just what is needed to tackle some challenges, solve some conflicts and clear the air.
We've had a lot to think about in this Newsletter. If you have any insights, feedback or experiences you would like to share, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to hear from you, whether you are a member of the team or the team leader. All requests to remain anonymous will be honored. If you wish to pass this Newsletter along to a colleague who may find it of value, feel free to do so. If that person would like to receive the Newsletter, e-mail me with the address, and I will put it on my database. I am looking forward to Thanksgiving at the end of the month, and want to personally thank you for your interest in my programs and in this Newsletter. You remind me that what I do has validity and value, and I am grateful to you for that reminder. Have a wonderful holiday.
About the Author
Barbara Mintzer is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant with over 30 years in business and health care. She speaks from experience! Her how-to programs provide participants with immediately applicable skills and strategies for getting buy-in and commitment from staff and staying on top of their professions in today's competitive and constantly changing workplace. Barbara presents keynote talks and breakout sessions for international, national, regional and state Conferences. She also conducts management retreats and in-house seminars. She facilitates panel discussions and roundtables at the same meeting...a good investment for your meeting budget. To explore the possibility of having Barbara speak at your next event, or work with your staff/leadership team, please contact her office.