LIVE Television and Basketball have taught me many hands-on lessons about (heart-based) leadership and teamwork.
I was standing on a basketball court when I first realized that (literally) my heart was what made the difference when it came to leading teams and managing projects to achieve the best possible outcomes.
For the last couple of months, I have been back on the hardwood, supporting and observing high-performing teams working on and around the basketball court play their best game to deliver top results.
In this post, I share three observations I have noted down. They are what I refer to as 3 teamwork truths to level up (or improve) your team game so you can win in every game you play.
1. There is no better feeling than to be part of a team. There is no worst feeling than to be part of a team.
I love working with and supporting teams. There is no better feeling than being part of an integrated and synergetic team. I long for those magic moments when you play as one, and 1+1=3 – when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Those moments in which contributing your part translates into a feeling of expansion, harmony, connection, alignment, and wholeness.
True is that nothing in life can be achieved on our own, individually, or in isolation from others. For us humans, as social beings, life is a team sport on its own.
What this actually tells us is that the only way to step up to your best self is to play the team game.
Yet most of the time we tend to forget it and only when the team does not work well do we realize.
Yes, that feeling of tension, friction, even anger, and oppression. A sense of emptiness, drain, and isolation. When the team isn’t working, confusion and the weight of emotional discomfort also feel multiplied.
2. Teamwork is spiritual work, as it calls us for individual growth.
Working together is what allows us to achieve more, to bring about something better and greater.
As legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson said: “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team”.
When we aim to play as a team, as much as we are called to act on our talents and strengths we are also constantly faced with our boundaries, limitations, and weaknesses. To successfully work in and with a team requires your own personal development.
Have you ever realized how teamwork makes you grow?
To best contribute, there is a need to stretch yourself. Among others, to bond as a team, there is a need for openness, respect, empathy, curiosity, flexibility, adaptability, compassion, and courage.
From Me to We there is a need for selflessness. And to act as such is not easy per se. (Self-) awareness and response-ability are what it takes.
The team, made of pleasant and unpleasant moments, of high-quality and tricky interpersonal relationships, calls us to grow and step up beyond our comfort zone.
Most of the time acting for the benefit of the team means stepping out of our comfort zone. It requires crossing our fear zone and overcoming the learning zone so we can reach the growth one. There is where we are able to conquer objectives, set new goals, find our purpose and live our dreams. Yeah! Teamwork is spiritual work.
When the decisive moment comes it is not always an easy choice: am I going to play for myself or am I going to play for the team? Am I going to be able to stretch and do what it takes?
It was during Japan’s 2006 FIBA Basketball World Cup while broadcasting La Sexta Live daily interviews with Paul Gasol that he showed me how in truth no words are necessary to build a team.
I was managing the TV crew and the technical setup. Pau was our guest star, coming after team practices and games to our TV studio. We faced multiple technical issues… every day, again and again. Although he could have been annoyed and had all the reasons to complain, he decided to play the team game.
Silently, in his energy and presence, I could feel that Pau had chosen to support us navigate the bumps so we could try to solve the issues. I knew that he will stay in his role to allow me to do mine. Without a single word, he gave me a renewed sense of confidence. Day in and day out.
It was then that I first realized that teamwork starts on the inside. It is about our willingness to approach the other with open eyes, open ears, open minds, and open hearts. Free of judgment and fully charged with curiosity. Ready to support no matter what. That vantage point is what opens the flow of the team’s intangible energy force. It is what attunes the team’s energy field to make the group something more than the sum of its parts.
Have you guessed it?
Yeah! Heart openness is what awakes and unleashes that sense of oneness, belonging, and mutual support. The force that nourishes the shared dream, is what we refer to as team spirit.
Some days teamwork is made of fun, connection, rhythm, and flow.
Others it is shaped by hardship, hustle, and incongruence.
Yet each one of them is an invitation to grow.
That is precisely why team coaching can be of great support to surface team dynamics and make the most of the ongoing challenges & opportunities to accelerate shared growth, so you can consistently upgrade team performance to the top.
3. When you truly win, you Win For All.
While working on the last FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers window Operations Room in Madrid I noticed that in fact the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup’s motto “WIN FOR ALL” is such a powerful teamwork insight. Because only in supporting others’ growth we are able to truly play our best game and grow ourselves. Actually, when we truly win what we do is win for all.
So tell me…
Are you ready to support your team to win?
Would you dare to play your best game?
Observe, be aware.
To truly unleash our full potential we have to play the team game.
In 2006 I was lucky to witness the Spanish National Team make it to the top, game by game, day by day.
The Spanish National team broadcasted special energy throughout the whole championship. They surrendered the Me for the We.
On the 3rd of September 2006 at the Saitama Super Arena, Pau Gasol could not play. He suffered a serious foot injury during the semifinals and was forced to miss the title game. Everyone was concerned. And then Spain ran onto the court wearing a T-shirt that read ¡Pau tambien juega! (Pau is also playing). One could sense how his team took him to the court in every single play.
I would never look at basketball with the same eyes.
In front of an uncomfortable situation or a challenging choice, how would you react to what you have in front?
I invite you to stop for a moment and ask:
What does the team need from me right now?
As FIBA says…
All eyes on you 👀
All hope, all heart ❤️
Because when you win, you #WinForAll 🏆
Yeah! It’s time to play from the heart.
Would you like to learn more about how to level up your teamwork?