Winning ways

“The important thing is that in 20 years, those boys know that they didn’t leave anything on the table. They played their hearts out.” Herb Brooks, coach of 1980 U. S. Olympic Hockey team that won the gold medal (as quoted in the movie, “Miracle”)

As the Olympics approach, I am excited about the stories of the people. The triumphs and defeats, the power and the celebration. The emotions and the energy.

The Olympic athletes put everything on the line for a brief few seconds or minutes of their competition. It’s a fascinating study of performance, commitment, dedication and personal strength.

One of my favorite movies is “Miracle” about the 1980 United States Men’s Hockey team that beat the Russians to win the gold. It was truly a miracle as the Russians dominated the world in the sport at that time.

Herb Brooks, the U. S. coach, reinvented the way the U. S. team played hockey. He looked at hockey in a whole new way. Then he engaged the hearts and minds of the players. He evoked their commitment to the team and the possibility that they could win gold.

A true leader reaches to the hearts of the people they lead. Herb Brooks demanded long hours of practice, new ways of thinking, performance beyond any current expectations, new ways of playing. The team wouldn’t have won, however, if he didn’t win their hearts and commitment throughout the long hours of practice and preparation.

As a leader, we may get caught up in the goals of reaching targets, being on time, meeting the budget, keeping customers happy, innovations, change and trying to have a sense of balance in our lives. We can forget that we need the hearts and commitment of our team members.

It’s good to stop and remember that your team is essential to winning. Whether you are an entrepreneur that outsources work to your team or a corporate executive overseeing a large division or company, your team pulls you through.

Win their hearts and loyalty to gain their commitment. You’ll be amazed at what they will do for you.

Last summer, I was fortunate to visit Olympia, Greece where the first Olympics were held. This is a photo of the Temple of Zeus. The ruins also have the original field for track games. Tourists have their photos made on the original start line, channeling the energy and drive of the athletes. If you ever get a chance to visit Olympia, I highly recommend it.