Team Formation & Team Chemistry

The following is from the book A Season in THEIR Words: Quotes From Coaches From The Preseason To The Postseason  

One of the most important goals of any team sport is the formation of the team. Few things are as beautiful as a group of individuals that give up selfish desires and act as one unit. All successful teams have good leaders and players who accept their roles. Getting everyone on the same page is one of the coach’s biggest challenges, especially in a society that often preaches a me-first attitude. A coach is wise if he does a little something every day to help develop team chemistry. Here are a few quotes from coaches that may help.

A team is a fist—not five fingers.
--Mike Krzyzewski

The strength of a team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.
--Phil Jackson

Some people believe you win with your five best players, but I found you win with the five who fit together best.
--Red Auerbach

Whether it’s in business, politics, education, or athletics, there has to be respect and loyalty for the leader. Success or failure depends on it. There are three questions from the leader that must be answered affirmatively by the group members if the group needs assurance that it can reach its desired goal.

  1. Can I trust you? 
  2. Are you committed? 
  3. Do you respect or care about me? 
If the individual can answer yes to their leader to these three questions, even greatness is within their grasp.
--Lou Holtz

The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.
--John Wooden

A lot of times a player has a lot of versatility. That’s really what their strength is and what their role is.
--Bill Belichick

There is an old saying about the strength of the wolf is the pack, and I think there is a lot of truth to that. On a football team, it's not the strength of the individual players, but it is the strength of the unit and how they all function together.
--Bill Belichick

The one thing that I know is that you win with good people.
--Don Shula

I don't want a player that's content with not playing.
--Don Shula

I could throw open the door of the Tennessee locker room and show you all the inner workings of our program, and you still wouldn’t beat us, if you weren’t willing to outwork us.
--Pat Summitt

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Alice's Wonderland & Three Impossible Things

If you want to know what human beings really want, consider how Alice reacts to Wonderland. Lewis Carroll’s inventions are so entertaining, we tend to smile at how upset, vexed, and unsettled Alice actually is. Wonderland overturns our regular, orderly, and predictable life, which is what people actually want.

The inhabitants of Wonderland aren’t just fantastic. They are unhappy. The White Rabbit is anxious enough to be a study in stress over a deadline. The Duchess’s cook throws dishes in a state of rage, and the Duchess herself hands Alice her squalling baby, which turns into a pig. Alice is very glad to get out of there. But Wonderland haunts us, and for good reason.

We are shadowed in everyday life by fear. To assuage our fears, we have mentally constructed a picture of life that is reassuring, but wrong. There’s a kind of silent conspiracy to impose logic, reason, order, and predictability which actually isn’t there in Nature.

As an Oxford mathematician, under his real name of Charles Dodgson, Carroll was deeply attached to order, reason, and logic. In the Alice books, he was sending two messages that modern people still believe in. The first has already been mentioned--tt is better to live an orderly, well-organized life than its opposite, a disorderly and messy life. The second message is that the natural world runs on logical and predictable cause-and-effect. This message is sent by a reverse example since Wonderland is the place where the Red Queen “believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”Alice laughs at this, but there are at least three impossible things that everyone cannot do without. The first, known as intuition, defies logic, because intuition strikes out of the blue, giving rise to sudden insights, breakthroughs, and discoveries. Without it, the modern world wouldn’t exist—we might not even have the wheel.

The second impossible thing is synchronicity, or meaningful coincidences, which defies cause-and-effect. Hard as it might be to credit, your whole body is held together by synchronicity, because gravity, electromagnetism, and chemical bonding aren’t enough to keep your body from flying apart into a cloud of atoms and molecules. Every force that acts upon you, every chemical reaction, and the hum of electricity in every cell must act in perfect accord to keep you intact. Mechanical cause-and-effect can do no more than make physical objects glom together lifelessly.

The third impossible thing is more technical and is known as quantum entanglement. Two subatomic particles like an electron or photon can be paired so that no matter how far apart they are if one undergoes a change, it will be instantaneously mirrored by the other in complementary fashion. Quantum entanglement happens instantaneously even across billions of light-years, therefore defying the speed of light. Albert Einstein’s famous phrase for this, “spooky action at a distance,” reflected his disbelief that the speed of light could be defied. He spent the second half of his life trying to make sense of the phenomenon.

These three impossible things have such vast and unsettling implications that whole books have been written about each, but the upshot is that we are all Alice. We have settled into regular, orderly lives where predictability, logic, cause and effect, and the general theory of relativity operate, while on the fringes our existence is shadowed by impossible things. It is hard to realize that both worlds are equally valid as the framework of existence, and even harder to see that all the order, logic, rationality, and predictability is solely the construct of the human mind.

There’s a lot of skepticism about impossible things—the impossible things always win in the end, however—and a lot of propaganda, about how to make your dreams come true though making money, leading the ideal family life, constantly consuming more and more, etc. The three impossible things we’re discussing here haven’t shattered this illusion, but global climate change has a good chance of doing the job for us.  The prosperous lives of consumers carelessly leaving huge carbon footprints has to change to avoid climate catastrophe, and yet the illusion of normality makes people cling to a lifestyle that only brings the peril closer.

One of the impossible things, intuition, might save us, in the form of new bright ideas that can be transformed into technology to end the imbalance of greenhouse gases. But many of these ideas already exist but are blocked by our stubborn, perhaps fatal, attachment of what we call normal life. Believing in impossible things has a vastly important legacy and no doubt a future just as important. Science and our understanding of reality depend upon abandoning our illusions, no matter how comfortable they are.

--Adapted from an article written by Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation


Build Effective Leadership With These 8 Qualities

Whatever your position, whatever field you’re working in, whatever type of organization, the fundamentals of strong leadership are the same. Here are the eight essential qualities to strong, effective, and successful leadership
  1. The competence in being positive. A positive attitude, especially from top management, can set a tone and signal others to be more positive—and, in turn, productive. When you’re optimistic about yourself and what you’re doing as well as about other people, you’re much more likely to inspire others to be and do their best. Positivity is contagious, and it’s a vital part of being a strong leader.
  2. The ability to be decisive. The ability to make difficult decisions based on the facts and circumstances of each specific situation is an important quality for effective leadership. To be a good leader, you need to rely on both your reason and your intuition and be able to pull everything you know together on the fly when a timely decision is required. Making decisions, especially difficult decisions, quickly and without waffling is among the most important elements of leadership.
  3. The resourcefulness to delegate. A confident leader is not afraid to let others handle the workload, and they know they can trust their team to get the job done. It is less confident leaders who are wary of delegating and feel that they need to control everything. If you have confidence in your people, they will show you how competent they are.
  4. The character of integrity. Everyone wants to be led by a leader who embodies integrity. If others are following your lead, it’s critical that you model integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, and accountability in everything you do. When all is said and done, integrity is the most important thing of all in leadership.
  5. The ability to listen to others. Listening is a skill, and it’s one that everyone, in every position, at every level—and especially those in leadership—should be proficient in and practice daily. Allowing others to speak and be heard is among the hallmarks of good leadership.
  6. The essence of humility. Humble leaders know that even though they are in charge, the contributions of others are equally important. They also understand that admitting mistakes is not a sign of weakness but a demonstration of strength. When you incorporate humility into your leadership, you’re on the path to building a strong, courageous team that collaborates and communicates well.
  7. The wisdom of being approachable. Leadership is a privilege, and in order for it to be truly effective, you need to be accessible and approachable. People should always feel that the channels of communication are open and be comfortable sharing both good and bad news. Make sure you keep yourself available and responsive to the needs of those you lead.
  8. The mastery of motivation. One of the most difficult jobs for a leader is motivating others, especially when the circumstances are complex or difficult. The best way to master the art of motivation is by setting a good example yourself. In tough times, people look to their leadership for cues about how to react. If you lead from within, with high standards and steady action, you will automatically motivate and inspire others.

Lead from within: To keep your leadership strong, hold your focus on the essential qualities of the role.

--Adapted from

6 Leadership Realities

  1. Everyone is a volunteer. Control is an illusion. You don’t control anyone or anything except for yourself. Everyone you work with chooses what they’ll do and how they’ll do it. Yes, your team is paid and if they choose not to perform at a certain level, they can lose their job – but that’s still their choice. When you remember everyone is a volunteer you know that the effort you want your people to give is their choice. Sure, you get to influence that choice. When you recognize that everyone chooses what they do, it transforms their work into a gift, and that changes everything.
  2. You’re in the hope business. This is one of the most neglected truths about leading a team. Leadership is the belief that if we work together we can have a better tomorrow. Together we can do more, be more, and add more value to the world. That’s a big deal.  It might be the biggest deal of all. And some of the time your team will be stressed and discouraged, your job is to help them find the hope. Without hope, you’re done. When your team has hope, you have a chance.
  3. Change isn’t a choice. When you’re leading you’ll never have it handled. There are moments of dazzling teamwork where everyone aligns and you achieve more than you ever thought possible. But next week, one of those team members transfers or technology changes or your competitor does something different that you can’t ignore. Now you’re working hard again to create the next future. Leadership is a journey where are no final destinations. At some point, you will leave your team – hopefully, in the capable hands of leaders whom you’ve invested in and developed. In the meantime, whatever you did last week opened the door for the new challenges and change you will face this week.
  4. Effective or right? Many new leaders (and more than a few experienced leaders) get stuck because they cannot see past their own “rightness” and do the things that will help them achieve results and build relationships. For example: “Why should I have to tell them again…I said it once.” Yes, you did – three months ago. People have many priorities competing for their attention. If it’s important, communicate it multiple times in multiple ways. “Why should I encourage/thank them? they’re just doing their job.” Yes, they are. Yet people are more engaged when they feel appreciated and are seen as a human being, not just a cog in a machine. “Why should I hear opposing viewpoints? I’m an expert on this subject and I’ve looked at all the options.” Yes, you are and we’re sure you did a thorough analysis, but if you want your team to be committed to the idea, their voices need to be heard. Besides, you might be surprised by someone else’s perspective. If you want to achieve results and increase your influence, look for places where you’ve clung to being “right.” Then let it go…and choose to be effective.
  5. Harder isn’t smarter. “Work smarter, not harder” is a cliché for a reason. More effort isn’t always the answer. Twelve-hour days filled with back-to-back meetings may feel busy, but they’re not healthy, strategic, or ultimately productive. When you’re leading, creating time to think and get perspective will often be far more valuable than pouring in a few more minutes of sweat equity. Once you’ve got motivated people and clear shared expectations, the changes that will do the most good often aren’t more effort, but better systems.
  6. You are not alone. Too many leaders suffer in lonely silence. You don’t have to. In fact, leading by yourself will limit your career and influence. Effective leaders connect with people. Connect with your colleagues and invest in one another’s success. Connect with your team and they’ll make you better. Connect with mentors or coaches to grow. Connect with a community of leaders for support and encouragement.
--Adapted from