The former NFL head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, Mike Smith, teamed up with one of my favorite authors, Jon Gordon, to explore seven principles that teams use to reinvigorate and reinvent their future.
I’m not sure how you read, but the more I like a book, the more underlines, highlights, and dog-eared pages appear. Long ago, I developed the habit of doing this because I want the wisdom of the authors to penetrate my thick skull and make an impact. When I read this book, there were so many quotes that stuck with me.
So, instead of an author interview, I wanted to share the top 25 Quotes from this book on team building that stuck with me. I hope you find them helpful as you build a great team of your own. Because, as the title of this book reminds us, winning starts long before you actually take the field.
25 Quotes to Build a Winning Team
“Culture is defined and created from the top down, but it comes to life from the bottom up.” –Mike Smith
How do you measure success? Is it by financial security, career growth, community involvement, quality of relationships, spiritual centeredness or the legacy you leave? Whichever measure you choose, your attitude is the single most important factor in achieving success.
“Your attitude is the single most important factor in achieving success.”
The topic of attitude can be conceptual and confusing. In fact, as we go through life we often hear phrases like, “Keep your chin up,” “Look on the bright side,” or “You need a winning attitude.” Unfortunately, we seldom know how to convert these soft sayings into hard results.
The great news is that even in the worst situations – a victim of a natural disaster, prisoner of war, target of abuse or when hit by a string of unfortunate circumstances – your attitude is something you can always control!
When we control our attitude we influence how our body responds and performs. Where our thoughts and attitudes go, our bodies follow. For example, blushing is a physical reaction to a mere thought. If we have this kind of reaction to a thought, is it such a leap of faith to believe that we can orchestrate our attitudes to affect our bodies in beneficial ways?
“The choice of attitude is yours. Tomorrow you will become what you choose today.”
A landmark study shed light on the ultimate benefit of a positive attitude. In this particular study, participants who were more positive lived an average of 10 years longer than the other participants. Considering that smoking has been shown to reduce life expectancy by 5.5 years for men and 7 years for women, your attitude might be a health risk factor worth paying real attention to.
The choice of attitude is yours. Tomorrow you will become what you choose today.
Study: positive participants lived 10 years longer than other participants.
There are three aspects of the script that work in concert: thoughts, words and actions. By orchestrating each aspect with conscious responses, we positively influence our beliefs, commitments and results.
The script plays out like this:
Thoughts, the way we choose to interpret our world, directly influence our beliefs.
Beliefs directly influence the words we choose to speak to others, and more importantly, to ourselves.
Words reflect our commitments to ourselves and others.
Finally, our actions directly influence the results we achieve.
This script is self-reinforcing, for better or for worse. The results we achieve reinforce our thoughts, and the same script is played out again. So, it all starts with our thoughts. Our thoughts today influence our results tomorrow.
Befriending our bodies is foundational to the practice of authenticity. I define authentic leadership as the fullest expression of “me” for the benefit of “we.” In order for us to fully express our true selves, we need to know who we are – to experience what brings us joy, when our fears hold us back from full self-expression, and know what triggers prevent us showing up in our authentic selves. The truth of all of these questions lies in our bodies. In my executive coaching work, I use Whole Body Leadership ™ to get us connected to our bodies to give us answers to these questions. Our bodies can be great enablers because they can help us move in a direction that we know is right by transcending our fears and discomfort through breath, posture, and movement.
“Authenticity creates trust in teams.” -Henna Inam
Staying curious is critical in a world that is rapidly changing. Our brain likes to operate on assumptions to make the decision-making process easier. We make assumptions about people in the form of quick judgments. We often only see what we believe. Staying curious is about constantly asking ourselves and others broad, open-ended questions such as, “What’s happening now?” or, “What do you see here?” or, “What’s new? What’s changed?” and being open to new learning.
“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.” -Lao Tzu
Letting go is not always easy. What tips do you offer to let go of what is limiting us?
The first step to letting go of what limits us (often our inner saboteur thoughts and behaviors) is to practice staying curious about ourselves. Once we’ve identified a place we’re stuck, we can ask ourselves, “Who am I being here?” Often it is a certain perspective on a situation or an attitude we are holding that keeps us stuck. It’s often based on assumptions we weren’t even aware of. Once we’ve identified these, we can consciously choose a different perspective, assumptions, or way of being that will get us closer to our goals. Neuroscience shows us how our body can be used to help us change our minds, so moving our body can help us to let go.
Someone once told me that people identify more with your struggles than your successes. It’s true for me, too. It’s hard to identify with those who have seemingly had win after win with no knowledge of the effort it took to make it happen. If you talk with any successful person long enough, you start to uncover the difficulties, the challenges, the struggles, and the failures that happened along the way.
Along with our own life experiences, Lydia and I have examined the stories of a variety of leaders who faced ill health, professional setbacks, emotional loss, and a host of other life-changing events, in order to illustrate how each achieved personal transformation and success by mining their own resilience.
Each story focuses on one of nine essential principles needed to overcome adversity and seize opportunities:
A person people can like and love
Loving and empathetic
Willing to be responsible for what I do
People I trust and who love me, no matter what
Health, education, and support
Manage feelings and solve problems
Seek out trusting relationships
Offered as affirmations for success, we outline take-away lessons and daily practices that can be incorporated in your own professional journey.
THE MUST DO’S
Of all of the daily practices you outline in the book, what three are ‘must do’s’ for everyone?
Skip, as you know from your life’s journey, each person’s experiences and challenges are uniquely theirs. And life – personal as well professional – hardly has a formula. What we tried to do is provide contextual learning.
For example, in one of the chapters, we have summed up three key concepts necessary to becoming more authentic and resilient through self-acceptance:
By practicing self-acceptance, we discover the complexities of our emotions, vulnerabilities, and imperfections. And this is what creates our true authenticity. When we decide to embrace our authentic self, we give ourselves the opportunity to grow.
In an attempt to make these daily practices sustainable for our readers, we have also created a resiliency app. The Survive To Thrive free app can be accessed at www.SurviveToThrive.pub.
“Reinvention is the essence of the resilient mindset.”
How to Help Your People, Team, and Organization Achieve
In the Seven Disciplines of a Leader, Jeff Wolf explores what leadership looks like when done right. Jeff has coached hundreds of leaders and offers his disciplines in order to benefit leaders at all levels of the organization. I recently talked with Jeff about the leadership disciplines discussed in his book.
“Companies place the wrong leadership in the job 82 percent of the time.” –Forbes
What advice do you give to someone who wants to stand out and get noticed as a leader in a large organization?
Learn what your company looks for in its leaders. See if there’s a competency model that identifies successful leaders’ strengths and characteristics. Study this model and be sure to practice the competencies. If no such model exists, seek out successful company leaders and talk with them to gain a better understanding of how they became successful.
You should also volunteer to lead small projects, which will provide useful leadership experiences and exposure. You’ll gain confidence and enhance the skill sets that are weak.
Always be curious. Seek new opportunities and experiences, and always be open to trying something out of your normal comfort zone.
I would encourage budding and aspiring leaders to create a plan, put it in writing, and then “work it.” Research proves that people who put their goals in writing are usually more successful.
Read as many books and attend as many training courses as possible, both within and outside of the company. Vary courses so you can experience a broad spectrum of leadership skills.
“A leader’s upbeat attitude is contagious and lifts morale.” -Jeff Wolf
There’s another important challenge to overcome: Learn the areas in which you must improve because we all have blind spots. We see some of our weaknesses, but it’s truly impossible to identify all of them.
It’s important for leaders to be positive and have a great attitude because they can either impart or sap energy. A leader’s upbeat attitude becomes contagious, lifting the morale of those around them. You can always teach skills, but you cannot always teach people how to be positive; they either have a great attitude or they don’t.
Be sure you are striving to work well with others and be aware how other people view you. When you stand up to speak in front of a group, do you exude confidence, present articulate, clear messages, and carry yourself well?
Coaching for Success
What is the most common reason someone calls you for coaching?
Coaching used to be thought of as a tool to help correct underperformance or, as I often call it, the “broken wing theory.” Today, coaching is used to support leaders, employees with high potential, and top producers in an effort to enhance individual capabilities.
We work in such a high-speed environment! Organizations are finally beginning to recognize the importance of helping leaders achieve critical business objectives in the shortest possible time, so they’re hiring me to speed personnel development.
I’m often brought into organizations to deal with a number of leadership issues. Providing feedback is one key area. As leaders move into greater levels of responsibility, they receive less—perhaps even no—feedback from others on their performance. The unfortunate consequence is stagnation. Critical leadership and interpersonal skills often reach certain levels, and the leader is given no opportunity to become an even better leader. Working one-on-one with an objective third-party coach offers these leaders a trusted advisor who can focus on behavioral changes that organizations are ill equipped to handle. Coaching develops extraordinary leaders. Extraordinary leaders produce extraordinary business results.
If you are a new manager, what are a few ways to have a quick impact?
Leadership is not rocket science. It comes down to living and leading by the golden rule: Do unto others as you want them to do unto you.
People make companies. As leaders, we often spend most of our time on strategy and improving bottom-line results, but what about our people? It’s our job, as leaders, to guide them, help them develop more skills, and increase productivity.
I think Walt Disney put it perfectly: “You can dream, create and design the most wonderful place in the world….but it takes people to make the dream a reality.”
For a quick impact, work to understand what your people want, not just what you want, and act accordingly. Ask your staff for their feedback with questions such as:
What can I do to make you happier here?
What do you find challenging about your work?
What’s energizing about your work?
How can I be a better leader for you to be successful?
What resources do you need that you currently don’t have?
What motivates you to work hard?
Do you feel appreciated and receive the praise and recognition you feel you deserve?
Often times a new leader’s first inclination is to become too friendly with people. After all, everyone wants to be liked. But by trying to become everyone’s friend, leaders run the risk of losing respect and influence. If your staff considers you to be one of the group, they may not respect your judgment on important issues.
Additionally, they may lose their motivation to achieve goals, fail to work hard, and assume deadlines are soft when they believe their “friend” will never reprimand them. That’s why leaders must avoid falling into the trap of becoming too friendly with their staff. The bottom line? You’re the boss—not a best friend! You cannot be objective and unbiased when staff members view you as a work pal.
“It takes people to make the dream a reality.” –Walt Disney