We live in a stats and numbers focused world. That’s fine except that so much of the time when we look at those numbers, we tend to look at individual performances as the gauge for success. While those numbers do provide concrete measure of accomplishment, the reality is that no one overcomes any great obstacle alone. At various points in our lives parents, teachers, teammates, pastors, and coaches come along to help us out. Our success today is due in large part to the investment they made in us at some point in our past.
If you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s you saw one of the greatest examples of this develop. For the first 6 years after he joined the NBA we watched Michael Jordan dazzle the league with almost superhuman feats of athleticism. He won The Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, the All-Star Game’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, and the league’s overall MVP award too. He was brining home all kings of gold and personal recognition, but his team never finished higher than 3rd in the league. In fact for four of those years, the team finished 6th or worse. Having the league MVP wasn’t enough, it would require something more.
Clearly MJ had all the tools, but it took Coach Phil Jackson to see what was needed and begin to cast the vision for Jordan to see the need to go beyond being a star and become what Jackson called a player “who surrenders the me for the we.”
Michael caught the vision. He never stepped out of his pursuit of personal excellence, but he did begin to work to help his teammates find the best in themselves, and he did it through connection. He began spending more time with his teammates on and off the court. Phil Jackson later wrote: “Jordan’s presence [affected] the psyche of the team . . . he challenged everyone to step up . . . before practice I often found him working one-on-one with young players.”
Under Jackson’s leadership, the team adopted a motto from Rudyard Kipling’s Second Jungle book: “…the strength of the pack is the Wolf and the strength of the Wolf is the pack.”
The changes worked. The Chicago Bulls were transformed and over the course of the next 6 years they won 6 NBA Championships and established a basketball dynasty. Jordan himself won 6 MVP awards over the course of his career and cemented his position as the best basketball player of all time. But Jordan understands his place in all of this, as he has been quoted saying:
Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.
It is one thing to be a great leader, but it is an even better thing to build upon the greatness of others around you. Life is better together, and it only improves as we see the best in each other and work coax it out. You are amazing, what you can do on your own is incredible, but it pales in comparison to what you can do if you work to build the team around you.
So so who are you building up and pouring into? Who do you need to build a relationship with to help you get better? Life is always better together, go ahead invite someone in!
Feature image credited to: Steve Lipofsky www.Basketballphoto.com