Basketball. Love it or hate it, we’ve been feeling the madness of it for the past month. (One month!?! I hear ya, it seems like it’s been a lot longer than that to me too!)
This year’s tourney was filled with all the things we love about sports. Underdogs winning. Proven winners failing. Good teams becoming great.
Moments of greatness can be found throughout the tournament and I’m sure each magical moment demonstrates a valuable lesson. But, the final five seconds of this year’s championship game was bigger for me than all of those moments combined. Here’s why…
I’ll Take Scrappers Over Spit-Shined Every Time
Villanova probably wasn’t on top of many brackets. They aren’t a team of superstars with a bunch of hardware in their trophy cabinets. They don’t have a strong history of winning championships, unlike many of the teams they’ve faced in their 36 appearances (8th highest in NCAA history). They certainly weren’t expected to beat a top-caliber team like UNC – a team with a higher overall winning percentage and 5, yes 5, national championships under their belts.
Yet here we are, talking about Villanova, this year’s tourney champs. I’ve read at least a dozen articles breaking down the 3, 5 or 7 reasons Villanova won. I’ve heard a lot of the conversations about the game – how thrilling it was to watch, how exciting it was to see it come down to the wire, how fantastic is was to see both teams fighting for victory. Yes, yes, and yes. It was all that and more…
This championship game was special to me because it captures everything I know to be true about high-performing teams.
Villanova, a group of unselfish young scrappers, stepped on that court as an army of one. Their ‘play-til-the-whistle’ hustle, plus their ‘fight-til-the-buzzer’ togetherness was the 1-2 combination they needed to beat a team like UNC.
I see this same pattern with many of the teams I work with. Teams who come together, who commit to achieving something bigger than any one person can do on their own, win every time.
Turn It Over – You’ve Got To Trust To Triumph
I’m sure Villanova has a nice collection of game winning plays in their playbook. Their coach did his job during their last time out. He set the vision. He made the call. He picked the play he thought would give them the best chance of a win. And then, like all great leaders, he got out of the way.
He trusted his players to make the best decisions possible. He turned it over to his team.
During his post-game interview, Villanova’s Head Coach Jay Wright said, “When we have an end-of-a-game-situation like that, we put it in Arch’s hands. It’s Arch’s job to make the decision.”
Complete trust – without hesitation. He turned the game and the outcome over to his team. Win or lose, he trusted them to deliver their best…and they did.
The winning teams I work with have this same high level of trust. They all know where they are going and why it’s important for them to get there. Together.
We Over Me
“I am what I am because of who we all are.” Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist shared this idea of human kindness, or Ubuntu, during one of her many rallies.
I think the idea of we over me perfectly captures what a team is all about. Each person is able to be great because of the strength and greatness around them.
Villanova’s point guard, Ryan Arcidiacono, had the ball in his hands. He had the ability to take the shot of a lifetime – the buzzer-beating-game-winner in THE big championship game. This was it. The moment all competitors dream about.
Did he shoot and score? Nooooo. He passed the ball to his teammate, Kris Jenkins, a player who said he would be open and lives to make these shots. He is their high-pressure, go-to shooter.
When asked about this decision after the game, Ryan simply said, “Every kid dreams about that shot. I wanted that shot, but I just had confidence in my teammates and Kris was able to knock down that shot.”
Ryan followed through on his belief of we over me. His selflessness created an entire team of unexpected champions.
The best-of-the-best teams I work with have this same we over me mindset. They aren’t about all-star individuals who overshadow everyone else. They focus solely on combining their individual strengths to create amazing results.
The big game is over. Another March Madness is in the books. It’s April now, and I’m sure it won’t be long until this season fades from memory. But the last five seconds of this game will remain special to me, not because of the teams who played or how the game was won. This game will remain special to me because it perfectly captures the power of we over me.
If you need help building high-performing teams, let’s connect.