Lessons from the Soccer Field

hands together teamWe all know that not every example of teamwork and excellent leadership occurs in business. This point was driven home for me quite vividly last weekend.

Email requests for volunteers were flying because our town was hosting a soccer tournament. I kept hoping a more soccer knowledgeable parent would step up but they still needed help. Ok, Heather, time to take one for the team. I’m in.

Once I figured out that throwing a ball on the field…while there was already one in play…was frowned upon, I decided to simply step back and watch and learn.

During one of the games I noticed a distinct difference between the two teams. Not only was one in red and one in blue but the kids were different, the parents on the sidelines were different, and the coaching was definitely different. I decided to take a closer look and listen.

Both teams had talent. These kids were good. One of the coaches was screaming incessently. He was calling out plays, instructions, and most often loud exclamations of disapproval. The parents from this team also were yelling their own instructions from the sidelines. One mom in particular included flailing arms to emphasize her points. Not surprisingly, the kids on this team looked tense and unhappy. At one point a boy was trying to place the ball for a kick and was trying to figure out whether to listen to the coach, his dad, or the ref and was literally shaking as he put the ball down.

On the other team the coach was also shouting out instructions but they sounded distinctly different. He called a play to a team member by name, the child responded, and he then yelled out an encouraging “Great job!” or “That’s it!!” The parents on this team clapped but didn’t offer instructions. I think they knew the coach had it under control. The kids on this team were smiling, laughing, and having a grand time overall.

I wish I could say that the encouraging team ran away with the game and the trophy. But they ended up tying. However, I do believe that there were a lot of winners. The children that felt proud and happy spending time doing what they love. The coach and parents who felt a glow in supporting these kids. Me…for getting more from volunteering than I thought possible.

That happens in business too doesn’t it? Some leaders and teams understand the importance of encouragement, support, working together, empowering each other. Most often these teams are the most productive, profitable, and motivated. At times a highly competitive, aggressive, and demeaning team leader gets a team to high producing status. But the fallout of hurt and distrust will eventually impact the team.

Action Step: Whether you lead a business team, a family dynamic, or in any capacity bring a group together…take the time to bring people up. Recognize the efforts. Reassure when mistakes are made. Inspire those around you to greatness. Seek out these opportunities daily.

Contact me anytime at heather@fireinfive.com. Want to experience an event that inspires vision? Check this out. Nov 1st. http://www.fireinfive.com/adventureConnection.html

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About FindYourFire

Writer, speaker, and life coach Heather O'Neill is president of Progressive Image and creator of the Fire in Five program...helping people reconnect and find the joy in their lives.
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