It’s easy to be ordinary or mediocre, but it takes courage to excel, to be different from the crowd. That’s why not many people can do it. The rewards are great, but so are the risks. It takes courage to sacrifice; to work long, hard hours when you could be relaxing; to work out when you’re tired or sick; to focus on being the best you can be when there are so many distractions; to seek out tough competition when you know you’ll probably get beaten. It’s easy to be average, but it’s hard to be the best.

It takes courage to:

  • Stand by your convictions when all those around you have no convictions.
  • Keep fighting when you’re losing.
  • Stick to your game plan and the unrelenting pursuit of your goal when you encounter obstacles.
  • Push yourself to place that you have never been before physically and mentally, to test your limits, to break through barriers.
  • Run a marathon, but then how would you ever know how far you could run if you never tried?
  • Try to be the very best you can be when others around you settle for mediocrity.

We are put on the earth to be tested – to be challenged with adversity and to see what we can accomplish. The successful person is the one who continually faces the problems and challenges that life bring s- and overcomes them all, no matter what the obstacle is.

The road to success becomes lonely because most are not willing to face and conquer the hardships that lurk on that road. The ability to take that extra step when you are tired and delusional is the quality that separates the winners from the also-rans. It’s the courage to succeed.

There is no substitute for hard work.

Never be satisfied with less than your very best effort. 

The Team Fails to Reach Its Potential When It Fails to Pay the Price

If a team fails to reach its full potential, rarely is it a matter of resources or an issue of ability. It is almost always a payment issue. A team does not reach its full potential unless it is willing to pay the price of giving 100 percent.

The Law of the Price Tag is a complex idea that is misunderstood by many. Here are the four elements of this law of sacrifice:

1. The price must be paid by everyone

In order to be a member of a team, you have to make sacrifice. The team doesn’t reject individual accomplishment; rather, it empowers personal contributions. People who have not been a part of a winning team often fail to realize that every team member must pay a price.

The “price” that must be paid is not the hard work of the team leaders. I believe that some people on a team think that if others put in the effort, they can coast along with their group victories—this mindset is never true. If everyone does not pay the price to win, then everyone will pay the price by losing.

2. The price must be paid all the time 

There is a condition called “destination disease,” and many people show the symptoms. Some individuals mistakenly believe that if they accomplish a particular goal, they no longer have to grow or improve. This mindset can apply to everything, not just athletics: earning a degree, reaching a desired position at work, or receiving a particular award. However, the day they meet their destination is the day they stop growing and forfeit their potential—and the potential of their peers. It convinces us that we can stop working, stop striving, and stop paying the price yet still reach our potential.

Destination disease is as dangerous for a team as it is for any individual. It is crucial to remember that there is no other price for success than hard work itself. President Dwight D. Eisenhower knew this truth, which is why he said, “There are no victories at bargain prices.” If you want to reach your potential, you can never let up, no matter what happens.

3. The price increases if the team wants to improve, change, or keep winning

Becoming a champion has a high price, but remaining on top requires even more sacrifice. How many companies stay at the top of Forbes magazine’s lists for a decade? How many back-to-back Super Bowl champions are there? There are very few because the higher you are, the more you have to pay to make improvements, no matter how small.

If you want to improve and run your race at a faster pace, you must pay by training harder and smarter. You may not think working harder than you are in the present moment is possible, but if you want to remain at the top, it is the recipe for success. This same principle applies to teams. To improve, change, or keep winning, as a group the team must pay a price, and so must the individuals.

4. The price never decreases

When most people quit during a challenge, they don’t give up at the beginning, but stop halfway. Nobody sets out on a mission with the purpose of losing; the bigger problem is the mindset they foster during the challenge. There is a mistaken belief that a time will come when success will miraculously get easier. The truth is that life rarely works that way. There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.

There are two kinds of teams who violate the Law of the Price Tag: those who don’t realize the price of success, and those who know the price but are not willing to pay it.

Living up to the Law of the Price Tag requires the following “costs”:

  • Sacrifice: This word is used a good deal in regards to the Law of the Price Tag because it is such a crucial element for success. When you become part of a team, you may be aware of the things you will have to give up. But you should know that, at some point, you will be required to give more—that is the nature of teamwork. A team only gets to the top by the blood, sweat, and sacrifice of its team members.
  • Time Commitment: Teamwork does not come with the jersey. It costs time. It takes time to get to know your team and learn how to work together with mutual trust and respect.
  • Personal Development: Your team will reach its potential if you reach your full potential. That desire to keep striving, to keep getting better, is a key to your own ability and character, but it is also crucial for the progress of your team.
  • Unselfishness: Mankind naturally looks out for his own self-interests. The question “What’s in it for me?” is never far from anyone’s thoughts. But if a team is to reach its full potential, its players must put the team’s needs ahead of their own.

The rewards of teamwork can be great, but there is always a cost. Only by embracing the Law of the Price Tag can a team reach its full potential.

The Law of High Morale might ring a bell because it was inspired by the words of Joe Namath, the quarterback who helped the New York Jets win the Super Bowl in 1969. Like any champion, Namath understood that there is an exhilaration that comes from winning. The feeling can be so strong that it sustains you through the discipline, pain and sacrifice that are required to perform at the highest level.

In order to get high team morale, players need to:

– Have a good attitude

– Always give your best

– Support the people on the team—players and leaders alike

If you have little influence, then exert what influence you have by modeling excellence. However, if you’re one of the team’s leaders, then you have an even greater responsibility. You need to model excellence, but you also need to do more. You need to help the people you lead to develop the kind of morale and momentum that helps create a winning team. These steps are in the three stages of morale:

Stage One: Poor Morale—The Leader Must Do Everything

Nothing is more unpleasant than being on a team when nobody wants to be there. When that’s the case, the team is usually negative and lethargic.

To create morale in this situation:

Initiate belief. The only way for a team to change is if people believe in themselves. As the leader, you must initiate that belief. Show people you believe in yourself and in them.

Create enthusiasm. The desire to change without the enthusiasm to change just frustrates people. If you bring a greater level of enthusiasm long enough, someone on the team will eventually join you. Then, another person will. Eventually, the enthusiasm will spread to the whole team.

Communicate hope. The greatest need of players at this stage is hope. As Napoleon Bonaparte said, “Leaders are dealers in hope.” Help them to see the potential of the team.

In stage one, the only way to get the ball rolling is to start pushing it yourself. As the leader, you can’t wait for someone else to do it.

Stage Two: Low/Moderate Morale—The Leader Must Do Difficult Things

Getting the team together and moving is an accomplishment. But where you’re going matters. To change from simply moving the team to moving the team in the right direction, you have to begin doing the difficult things that help the team to improve and develop high morale.

Make changes that make the team better. Leaders are responsible for minimizing the damage any team member can do because of attitude and for maximizing the effectiveness of all team members by placing them in the proper niche. Often those actions require tough decisions. The Law of the Bad Apple applies here.

Receive the buy-in of team members. It’s one thing to cast your vision to the team. It’s another to get your teammates to buy in. Yet to build higher morale, that is what you must do. The team must buy into you as a leader, embrace the values and mission of the team, and align themselves with your expectations. If you can do that, you will be able to take the team where it needs to go.

Communicate commitment. Part of the process of getting people to buy in comes from showing them your commitment. The law of buy-in says that people buy into the leader, then into their visions. If you have consistently demonstrated high competence, good character and strong commitment, you have laid the foundation for your people to buy in.

Develop and equip members for success. Nothing builds morale like success. Most people are not capable of achieving success by themselves. They need help, and that is one of the primary reasons for anyone to lead them. If you invest in your teammates, then you help them and the team succeed.

The two toughest stages in the life of a team are the first stage, where you try to create movement in a team, and stage two is the make-or-break time for a leader. If you can succeed in stage two, then you will be able to create high morale in your team.

Stage Three: High Morale—The Leader Must Do Little Things

Stage three of your job as leader is to help the team maintain high morale and momentum:

Keep the team focused and on course.

Communicate success. One of the things that helps people stay on track is to know what they’re doing right. You can indicate this by communicating the team’s successes.

Remove morale mashers. Leaders see before others do, so they need to protect players from the things that will hurt the team.

Allow other leaders to lead. When a leader prepares other team members to lead and then turns them loose to do it, it does two things. First, it uses the momentum the team already has to create new leaders for the team. It’s easier to make new leaders successful if they are part of successful team. Second, it increases the leadership of the team. And that makes the team even more successful.

The Difference Between Two Equally Talented Teams Is Leadership

Observe

Teams are always looking for an edge. You’ve seen it. A football team recruits new talent or develops new plays to beat a tough opponent. Hoping to improve their productivity, businesses invest in new technology. and companies fire their ad agencies and hire new ones to launch campaigns, hoping to make gains on their competitors. The more competitive the field, the more relentless the search for an edge.

What is the key to success? Is it talent? Hard work? Technology? Efficiency? To be successful, a team needs all of those things, but it still needs something more. It needs leadership. Personnel determine the potential of a team. Vision determines the direction of a team. Work ethic determines the preparation of a team. Leadership determines the success of a team.

Everything rises and falls on leadership. If a team has great leadership, it can achieve at the highest level.

Look at any team that has achieved great success, and you will find that it has strong leadership. What empowered the Chicago Bulls to win six NBA championships? Most casual fans would say that Michael Jordan was simply more talented than everyone else. His talent certainly played a role, but those who followed the Bulls know it was more than just talent. The leadership edge of Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan pushed those teams to excel. The difference between two equally talented teams is leadership. That’s the Law of the Edge.

Learn

With good leadership, everything improves. Leaders are lifters. They push the thinking of their teammates beyond what was thought to be possible. They elevate others’ performances, making them better than they’ve ever been before. And they raise the expectations of everyone on the team. Although managers are able to maintain a team at its current level, leaders are able to lift it to a higher level than it has ever reached before.

1.    Leaders create an environment where each team member wants to be responsible. Good leaders know how to read people and encourage them to take responsibility for their part on the team. But they also remember that they are responsible to be their teammates.

2.    Leaders push their teammates to fulfill the promises of their potential. The team can only reach its potential if each of the individuals on the team reach their potential.

3.    Leaders learn quickly and encourage others to learn quickly also. Leaders lift themselves to a higher level first, and then they lift the others around them. Modeling comes first, then leadership. If everyone is improving, then the team is improving.

Playmakers are what we call “get-it-done-and-then-some” people. When a teammate is losing motivation, a playmaker brings the drive.

How do you spot the playmakers on your team? A true champion exemplifies these characteristics:

  • Ambition: A playmaker has high goals, hates to lose, and puts goals above ability.
  • Coachability: A playmaker takes advice and is easy to coach. His humility gives him an eagerness to learn, and is easily approachable amidst scrutiny. He is willing to follow rules and directions.
  • Aggressiveness: A playmaker is assertive, and will do anything to be the best. He is a great competitor.
  • Leadership: A playmaker sets a good example. His fellow team members respect him because he mixes well with everyone. Others follow his lead and take his advice.
  • Take-Charge Attitude: A playmaker will take over when something goes wrong. When under pressure, he does resolves problems.
  • Hard Working: A playmaker is the first at practice, and the last to leave. He does extra work to improve. He never misses the workouts or gives excuses. He is a self-starter.
  • Physical Toughness: A playmaker develops toughness through hard work. He leads in conditioning. He takes training rules seriously and trains year-round.
  • Mental Toughness: A playmaker never has a give-up attitude. He ignores heat, cold, and pain. He has no excuses for obstacles.
  • Psychological Endurance: A playmaker stays with the task until it is finished. He will give his best against top competition. He is reliable and accountable to his team.

The profile of a playmaker makes for a sound leader. He brings a level of intensity that is electric. A playmaker finds energy in making things happen, stirring up the team, and doing whatever it takes to push it to the next level.

A true playmaker leads a team with humility. Arrogance is not a part of the description. Every move made by a playmaker is not for his success, but for the success of his team. He will, above all, model a willingness to serve the big picture rather than improve his own game.

When looking for the playmaker on a team, remember that a true leader knows there is something greater than himself. His leadership creates a unity of trust and reliability, because without trust, there is no team.

Character+Competence+Commitment+Consistency+Cohesion=Accountability

1. Character

Character is the first step in this equation, but it’s important to remember that every member of the team must embrace all five of these qualities in order to achieve accountability.

Character makes trust possible. Trust makes leadership possible. Accountability begins with character because character is based on trust. Trust is the foundation for all human interaction; it determines who we surround ourselves with. If you can’t trust someone, you won’t count on him or her when it counts.

2. Competence

Competence boils down to getting the job done. While character is the root of this equation, being trustworthy or being a good guy can only get you so far. Think of it like this: if you were having surgery for a life-threatening illness, would you rather have a good surgeon who was a bad person, or a bad surgeon that smiles a lot?

Competence matters, plain and simple. When you put someone in a vacuum and eliminate all other qualities, can they perform? If a person is going to be on the same team as you, you want both competence and character.

3. Commitment

The common cliché about teams is that they’re only as good as their weakest link. Great teams are filled with players who refuse to be the weakest link. Great competitors refuse to lift less than their teammates. They refuse to study less tape, to be less prepared.

Showing commitment outside of the lines, when the clock isn’t running, is the best way to demonstrate to your teammates that when the going gets tough, they can count on you. It’s important to remember that every member of your team must be committed to the same goal. It just takes one person to topple the harmony of a team. Lou Holtz once said, “You can’t win without good athletes, but you can lose with them.” Talent is a terrible thing to waste, and a dedication to commitment is the best way to avoid the path to failure.

4. Consistency

Consistency is the synthesis of the previous three qualities. You have character, you’re competent, and you’re committed. Demonstrate those traits every day. Consistency isn’t easy to achieve. Willpower is necessary. You must have the perseverance to put in work every day to create a routine that will allow you to be successful.

By making yourself more successful, you are benefiting your entire team. You ensure that you aren’t the weakest link. You act as a role model for other teammates. You engender a culture of constant work and a commitment to excellence. Do this consistently, and you will see marked improvement in your entire team.

5. Cohesion

Cohesion seems a little redundant at this point, doesn’t it? If every member of the team embodies the previous four qualities, then your unit is already cohesive. Alas, nobody’s perfect, and if a teammate slips up, the rest of the team has to be there to catch him, brush him off and go back to work.

Through all of the trials and tribulations, the team must stick together. Adversity is not only inevitable, but also necessary. The strongest steel is forged in the hottest fire. After overcoming adversity, the team will have a collective pride that will create a unifying, sinewy bond. Take pride in the fact that the collective group can function at a higher level than any individual could. The unit doesn’t shine because you’re a member; you shine because you’re good enough to be a member.

There’s an old saying when it comes to teams: “Either we’re pulling together or we’re pulling apart.” Without cohesion, you can’t pull together. With cohesion, you can achieve the highest level of performance possible.

Accountability

When a teammate looks at you in crunch time to perform, a feeling of pride swells up knowing that all of your hard work and dedication has paid off. Your teammates believe in you and hold you accountable to perform. Reciprocate that in holding your teammates accountable, and they will feel that same sense of accomplishment.

When you add these five C’s together, you end up with accountability, and by association, success. Finally, it’s important to remember that the Law of Accountability is a workout plan, not a weight-loss pill. Now, get working.

Winning is more than just talent. You could have a team full of incredibly talented athletes, but if even one has a slightly sour attitude, the team’s performance will suffer. This is the Law of the Bad Apple.

Law of the Bad Apple = Rotten attitudes ruin a team

  1. Attitudes have the power to lift up or tear down a team.

Some might think that talent is the end-all be-all of sports. But the reality is, a talented team is nothing without a positive attitude.

  1. An attitude compounds when exposed to others.

Unlike talent, attitude is contagious. People have a tendency to adopt the feelings and characteristics of those around them. If a teammate is humble, hardworking and upbeat, his teammates are likely to follow suit.

  1. Bad attitudes compound faster than others.

Unfortunately, bad attitudes are more contagious than good ones. Even if some teammates have positive attitudes, it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch. If one teammate is selfish, bossy or conceited, those negative sentiments will quickly spread to the rest of the team and hinder success.

  1. Attitudes are subjective, so identifying a wrong one can be difficult.

Bad attitudes can be hard to identify. You don’t have to be a criminal or immoral to have a negative attitude. Attitude is really about how a person feels, which gets translated to their actions. Here are six common bad attitudes that can ruin a team:

  • Inability to admit wrongdoing
  • Failure to forgive
  • Jealousy
  • Selfishness, or a desire to take all the credit
  • Critical of others’ performances
  • Talking negatively about others
  1. Rotten attitudes, left alone, ruin everything.

If left unaddressed, bad attitudes can cause dissension, resentment, combativeness and division amongst a team. It’s best to approach any bad apples and try to help them improve their attitudes.

These five truths should form the basis of your team’s positive attitude. But remember: Good attitudes don’t guarantee a team’s success, but bad attitudes guarantee its failure.

The Law of the Chain

The Strength of the Team is Impacted by Its Weakest Link

 

OBSERVE

As much as any team likes to measure itself by its strongest people, the truth is that the strength of the team is impacted by its weakest link. No matter how much people try to rationalize it, compensate for it, or hide it, a weak link will eventually come to light.

 

LEARN

When it comes to teamwork…

  1. Not everyone WILL take the journey

For some people the issue is attitude. They do not want to change, grow or conquer new territory. All you can do with people in this group is kindly thank them for their past contributions and move on.

  1. Not everyone SHOULD take the journey

Other people should not join a team because of their agenda. They have other plans and where you are going is not the right place for them. The best thing you can do with people in this group is kindly thank them for their past contributions and move on.

  1. Not everyone CAN take the journey

Often those who cannot take the journey cannot keep pace with other team members, do not grow in their areas of responsibility, do not see the big picture, won’t work on personal weaknesses, won’t work with the rest of the team, or cannot fulfill expectations for their areas.

If you have people who display one or more of these characteristics, you must acknowledge that they are weak links.

If you have people on your team who are weak links, you have two choices: train them or trade them.

Your first priority should always be to train those who are having a hard time keeping up. Give them hope and training, and they usually improve. However, if this fails to encourage said team member to meet expectations and grow, you need to give that person an opportunity to find his or her own level somewhere else.

If you are a team leader, you cannot avoid dealing with weak links. Team members who do not carry their own weight not only slow down the team, but they also impact your leadership.

These are some of the things that happen when a weak link remains on a team…

 

  1. The Stronger Members Identify the Weak One

A weak link cannot hide. If you have strong people on your team, they always know who is not performing up to the level of everyone else. A weak link always eventually robs the team of momentum and potential.

  1. The Stronger members Have to Help the Weak One

If your people must work together as a team in order to do their work, then they have two choices when it comes to a weak teammate: They can ignore the person and allow the team to suffer, or they can help him and make the team more successful. If they are team players, they will help.

  1. The Stronger Members Come to Resent the Weak One

Whether strong team members help or not, the result will always be the same: resentment. No one likes to lose or fall behind because of the same person repeatedly.

 

If your team has a weak link that cannot or will not rise to the level of the team and you have done everything you can to help the person improve, you must take action. As long as a weak link is part of the team, everyone else on the team will suffer.

As a member of a team, it’s not all about you. The end goal is most important, whether it’s learning a play, converting a pass or winning a game, and everything you do as an individual should be in pursuit of achieving that goal. This requires some perspective.

The most successful people can thoroughly understand and apply the Law of the Big Picture, which says that the goal is more important than the role.

In other words, they constantly keep a vision of the end goal in mind and act in a way that will further that goal. For example, it doesn’t matter if you’re dying to catch the winning pass and be the star of the game if that strategy isn’t what’s best for the team’s overall approach. You should play to your own strengths, but be willing to be flexible and do whatever it takes to make the team successful.

Living by the Law of the Big Picture takes practice, focus and often sacrifice. It requires that all members of a team are committed to visualizing and understanding a common goal and working in sync with each other to make it happen. This is no easy task, but there a few steps you and your teammates can follow that will lead you down a path toward embodying the Law of the Big Picture.

Consistent play is as critical to increasing the number of wins in the team’s W column as it is to potentiating the success of your individual career. Consistency allows you to continue winning each step of the way after initial triumphs as well. Yes, you can still win without consistency, but don’t expect a fruitful career if you don’t bring your best everyday. If you do not exhibit consistencyyou will go through a tiring valley of winning and losing, peaking and plummeting throughout the game, your season and your career simultaneously. Choosing a streaky work ethic is more exhausting than anything else.

With that said, know brining anything less than your “A” game will make you vulnerable, and with your “B” game, anyone can beat you. This is why Mizzou athletes should always hope to bring their best to all they do. Because of this, you should also know bringing your best is an investment. You must make deposits into the bank of your “A” game every morning when you wake up. However, consistency is not something you just turn on or make happen over night. Bringing your “A” game means fighting the battle within you everyday that rigorously demands you to never give anything less than your greatest effort.

This requires practice.

Some days you will fail in your efforts, falling flat on your face in humiliation, embarrassment and even shame. But being consistent is not about being perfect—not at all. It has nothing to do with impossible standards. No, being consistent is about continuing to fight again and again and again, and as unpleasant as it sounds, the person you will fight is yourself. But in the end, this is the only method that is truly rewarding. In the end, this is the only method capable of realizing self-improvement. As you grow, you will look back at your old self, and see how far you have come. Your coaches, friends and family will see this, too. When they do, no one will be more proud of you, and this is when you will know it was worth it.