Part of a Team

February 25, 2010

Team Hall

There are all kinds of teams.  Some are organized like football and basketball teams, church groups, civic groups, book clubs or sewing circles.  Others are a little more amorphous like neighborhoods, fans of a similar person, team or group, or those who share a similar talent/interest.  Regardless of what brings teams together, there is every kind of team everywhere you look

Whether you are a member of the Dallas Cowboys, attend the Methodist church on the corner, are on the PTA, live in Crofters Cove, love Frank Sinatra, are a Scrapbooker (or all of the above) you are a part of a team—and that’s good.

We all want to belong.  We all want to be a part of something, and that’s why we gravitate together.  It’s why we try out, volunteer, or set aside our precious time for teams.  We crave that commonality and community.  No matter how busy we are, we often find ourselves willing to throw our hat in one more ring in order to gain one more connection.

As members of these different groups we need to remember that desired community.  It will help us remember to be continually inclusive, instead of answering the primal instinct to exclude.  Regardless of how many groups knock at your door, it’s important to remember everyone isn’t quite so busy.

There are many people who are looking for anyway to be a part of anything—so much so that sometimes they’ll do whatever it takes to be “in.”  Even when people are included, when times get difficult, they want more—they need more.

When I broke my neck, I needed any inclusion I could get.  Even though I was fairly well liked, and a part of numerous groups, my new situation had me longing for more contact—more teammates.

Luckier than most, I had people who were willing to not only let me in, but actually make the effort to “recruit” me.

Growing up, one of the teams I wanted to be a part of was the BYU football team.  I spent nights dreaming of me in the locker room or crossing campus proudly wearing my letterman jacket.

Obviously, my new disability made both seem impossible.

One day, lying in the hospital, there was a knock at the door.  As it opened, I nearly went into cardiac arrest.  There, in the hallway, was Steve Lindsley—quarterback at BYU.  He spent a half hour of his time with me and before he left gave me his jersey and an invitation to join him in the locker room.

BYU QB Steve Lindsley visiting me in the hospital

I wore the jersey every day, and a few months later, I was in the locker room with all my heroes.  I was no longer a 15 year old learning to deal with his disability.  In that room and with that jersey on, I was a part of the BYU Football Team—a Cougar.

The letterman jacket came later.  I wasn’t struggling to find my place, that 15 year old boy scared about his future was long gone.  However, that didn’t mean my desire to be a part, to be included was gone too.  Just like everyone, I still wanted connections.

The Dean of Students and her Associate Dean, Maren Mouritsen and Tammie Quick (two of the wisest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing), understood that.  Just before my graduation from “The Y”, they presented me with my letterman’s jacket in front of my peers.  They had overheard me talk about my dream once and being the proactively caring people that they are, called the Vice-President responsible for athletics and got the ball rolling.  As far as I know I am the only non- athlete to be a Letterman from BYU—a part of BYU’s letterman’s club.  It was one of the proudest days of my young life.

A letteman at "The Y"

Our challenge is to follow the example of these three good people, Steve, Maren and Tammie, and look for ways we can change the lives of others by making them our teammate.  Whether it’s people around us who are struggling like I was in the hospital, or just someone looking for another meaningful connection, like I was at the end of my tenure at BYU, it’s our duty as a member of  “Team Humanity” to let those around us know we want them on our side.

Make it your goal this week to target someone and invite them to be a part of one of your teams.  Ask them to a church luncheon, or a neighborhood party.  Take some time to talk with them about a shared interest, or give them a CD from some artists you both like.  If you give it some real thought, you’ll find something that lets someone know you have something in common—and more importantly, that you care.

Watch the difference it makes.  Watch their confidence soar as your friendship builds.  I’m willing to bet it will have a bigger impact than you ever imagined.  But, what will really amaze you is how good the effort will make you feel.  Gaining more teammates will shore up your confidence as well.  For, working to let others know that they belong, you’ll find yourself feeling more accepted and loved as well.

For, really, at the end of the day, we all want to be part of a team.

Jh-

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Pick a Direction and Go!

October 16, 2009

Football Victory

When I came into the life insurance industry, I was blessed with great success—success that many never thought possible.  Much of that success was due to mentors who took a direct interest in my dreams and goals and worked hard to help me see them to fruition.

One of those mentors was Chuck Cutler.  In college, Chuck was a great wide receiver for BYU, and as such had already won my adoration.  But, it was in his personal interest in me, and my success during my work at Mutual Of New York, that he won my respect.

I learned many things during my time under Chuck’s management, but one of the things that had the most lasting impact came from a story he told me on our way to an appointment.

Now, this wasn’t your regular “across town” appointment.  This sales meeting was at seven-thirty in the morning in the little town of Montpelier, ID—just over three hours away from our offices in Salt Lake City.

I picked Chuck up at our offices at 4:00 a.m. so we could be on time and prepared for the appointment in Montpelier.  We had both been working into the late evening the night before, so in an effort to stay awake we tried to keep the conversation lively.

As we made our way, the conversation eventually turned to his football days at BYU.  With him being a former athlete at the Y and me having been a Brigham Young fan from essentially birth, neither of us was surprised. We both knew it was bound to happen.

Reminiscing about his time playing ball, he came to a story from the early days of his career at BYU.

It was the middle of practice, and what with him being a young wide receiver in a program filled with great receivers, he wanted to make sure to make a statement from the get go.

He lined up in front of one of the team’s senior defensive backs, the quarterback called the signal, the center snapped the ball, and Chuck was off.  As he ran his appointed route he worked hard to juke left and right in an effort to lose the defensive back.

The longer the back stayed with Chuck, the harder Chuck worked to lose him.  He pulled out all his best moves, shucking and jiving down the field. Eventually all this work brought forth some results.

As Chuck moved back and forth, he eventually slipped and twisted his ankle.  The play ended, and the coach walked over to where Chuck was on the field—an embarrassing situation that Chuck had in no way intended for.

The coach pulled him up from off the ground, and simply said (as much as any football coach can simply say anything), “Pick a Direction and Go!”

I think often about this story and it’s message.  Sometimes as we work to gain success in our lives, we end up doing just what Chuck did; we shuck and jive our way through life, trying to go in too many ways at one time, leading to a lot of movement, but little progress.  When try to focus on too much all at once, everything just ends up blurry and we end up with little more than an embarrassing story and a twisted ankle.

Conversely, when we pick our direction and go, our chances for success increase exponentially.  We become dedicated to one destination and with that in mind we are more likely to complete our routes and catch the ball.

Try it; pick one area of your life, then pick a direction—and go. If you will, your ability to succeed will increase, your life will be littered with achievement, and you’ll end up with an “All-American” attitude will make you unstoppable.

Jh-

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