Recently I posted a photo of the New Orleans Hurricanes on social media where I quoted Andrew Carnegie. He said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
Unfortunately, we don’t see this type of thought embraced very often, especially in paintball.
This past weekend I was asked by a player for advice on how to eventually go pro. I have been asked this question quite frequently as of late, in one form or another. A simple enough question really, but one that has numerous answers depending on who you are speaking with all while also weighing heavily on your circumstances and a myriad of other variables… and my answer is no different. Heck, I just got here.
Here are two more quotes for you from tried and true champions:
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan.
“Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi
Sensing a theme here?
Teamwork is what usually leads to success in most endeavors. Yes, there are exceptions but let’s talk paintball specifically. Again, yes exceptions, but one would be considered irrational if you thought any successful paintball team achieved success and maintained said success through the simple efforts of individual players.
Teamwork has to have a strong foundation. That foundation has to be trust. Personal ambition can be, in some cases, admirable but it can and routinely does poison teams. The team that removes ego, the team that puts the organization as a whole above the individual will usually survive longer and do better. Most successful teams have figured out that if everyone “buys in”, has the same goals and are moving toward those goals together in a unified front, then it becomes a matter of when, not if, success will arrive.
The strength of any team is made up of the individual members. The “weakest link” and all that… but you can overcome that “weakest link” bit if everyone recognizes that the strength of each member IS the team. There is strength in unity which should lead to no weak links if everyone contributes in their own unique way.
I did an interview recently with Matty Marshall and he inquired about what we attributed the success of the New Orleans Hurricanes to so far. The question intrigued me at first only because I realized he understood our goals. To the outsider looking in, we are not successful. In our first three events as a professional team, we have only made Sunday once. We are currently sitting in 10th place for the series (and will probably drop to 12th based off what I see happening in Sacramento). We have played 13 professional matches and only won 6 of them. We were outscored at the Sunshine State 15 to 19, did better in Dallas 23 to 21, and fell again in Philly 13/17 for a total of 51 scored and 57 scored against. Hardly a success, right? So why did Matty assume we were seeing success?
There are a couple of reasons really. One, because he is familiar with the goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the season as well as at each event. We are meeting those goals as a first year rookie pro team. And two, by most accounts, we aren’t doing too bad regarding the annals of history. But that still remains to be seen as there are still 2 events left (Chicago and Cup).
But I would be totally remiss if I didn’t state that the success is garnered from the guys being a close knit group, who understand the importance of “team”. It is ingrained in our culture. And that’s a very important aspect.
To me, teamwork is absolutely essential and quite honestly, the beauty of our sport. When you have five guys out there, working as one, communicating, selfless, and in a flow state, man… it is something to behold. Even better if you are one of the 5. But if you missed or flew past the word “selfless” in that sentence, then you missed the most important piece of it.
Whether most realize it or not, teamwork is the true definition of efficiency. After all, 9 or 10 brains are better than 1. I can’t remember who said it, but it struck me as so very true. What does efficiency really boil down to other than doing something better than what was already being done? And that is where we are seeing our success: in the process of creating efficiencies. The process of learning, the process of repetition, the process of trusting one another, the process of pushing one another, the process of trying to be just a little better than we were the day before. And yes, the process of losing and winning.
When you make that individual commitment to the team goal, you flip a switch that turns on accountability and selflessness. When everyone has that light on, man that stuff will shine bright. It will drown out all the noise and hyper focus everyone on what needs to be done, what has to be done.
Yes, it takes time and make no mistake, we have been at this for a while. But I believe we have kept the focus on the right things. We always start with fundamentals. We don’t lapse on those drills. We don’t phone it in. We don’t go through the motions. We make sure it is productive. There are no attitudes on this team. If we see something that needs to be mentioned, it gets said. And no one gets offended (no betas here).
What is my role in all of that? Easy. Keep them focused on the important things that paint the big picture. I recognize the things that may take us off course, that distract from what we really need to be doing, and kill them. I identify opportunities for my guys, push them to be their best, remove them from their comfort zones only to make that uncomfortable place comfortable and then develop strategic based concepts which allow my tacticians (the guys) to implement, make better, and execute.
So how did we get here and where is this all going? Well, we started with a question from a player this past weekend… how do I become better/pro.
Besides getting out there every weekend and practicing the fundamentals and playing as much as you can? Be something a team can’t do without. Find a job or role that no one wants to do and get so good at it, you are the only name they think of when it has to get done. That.. and one other thing…
Be a great teammate.
Be water my friends,