Success is a Team Sport
“Only a small percentage of people are continually successful over the long run. These outstanding few recognize that every success comes through the assistance of many other people – and they are continually grateful for this support. Conversely, many people whose success stops at some point are in that position because they have cut themselves off from everyone who has helped them. They view themselves as the sole source of their achievements. As they become more self-centered and isolated, they lose their creativity and ability to succeed.
Continually acknowledge others’ contributions, and you will automatically create room in your mind and in the world for much greater success. You will be motivated to achieve even more for those who have helped you. Focus on appreciating and thanking others, and the conditions will always grow to support your increasing success.” –Dan Sullivan & Catherine Nomura in The Laws of Lifetime Growth
This important concept is especially fresh for me right now.
Two weeks ago I had the privilege of being inducted into the New York State Girls Soccer Hall of Fame. I join the ranks with the likes of Abby Wambach, Crystal Dunn and other professional, National Team and Olympic players. To be recognized in this way with such an impressive group of women is so humbling, and I feel incredibly honored to have received this award.
It was Thanksgiving Day last year when I was notified that I was going to be inducted the following September. How amazing that in a moment you can be transported back and be flooded with a sea of memories from an awesome time in life. It truly was the love of the sport and for my team that drove me to be my best. And I immediately thought of the many who helped me achieve all that I did.
We never achieve success on our own.
Family and friends. My faithful family and friends gave me incredible love, support and encouragement through my long athletic career. I especially am grateful to my parents for their selfless sacrifice of time over the MANY years of practices, games, tournaments and travel. They also gave me an amazing example of godly character, integrity, following through on their commitments and being there for others. They make me better.
Coaches. My coaches gave so much to me and my teammates. My travel soccer coach, Steve Perkins, coached me for 7 years at such a pivotal time in my development as a player. He did not settle for less than my best. My high school coach, Debbie Reynolds, helped bring together athletes from different teams in the area to a place of unity and camaraderie to achieve excellence – making it to the State Championship game all 4 years I played varsity ball. Randy May, my college coach, who cared about me as a person first and player second (one of the things that drew me to Cornell), who called each of us to higher levels of play, who believed we could be more than we thought possible. They made me better.
Teammates. My teammates over the years have challenged and pushed me to be my best. They also provided great friendships and amazing memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. They made me better.
Other coaches and players. I can’t count how many soccer camps I went to over the years and teams I got to play with on a short term basis (like Empire State Games). So many coaches from around the country and world built into me as a player. I also had many players I looked up to and emulated their style and work ethic. They made me better.
Teachers/Professors and Staff. An athlete is not one dimensional. I have so many teachers/professors that poured into me, that helped me grow and love to learn. They helped give me options in life. I had a guidance counselor in high school who cheered me on and believed I would thrive at Cornell before I even believed I could. I had a choir teacher who grew my love of singing and saw my potential before I di (and I eventually went into full-time music ministry with Cru for almost 17 years.)They made me better.
I could continue, but I think you get the idea. We don’t succeed on our own.
I am who I am today and have accomplished what I have not only because of my own hard work, dedication, commitment to excel and do what was needed, but also because I have a wealth of treasured people in my life who have poured into me and helped make me better!
That’s the beauty of community. We can’t do it on our own, and we weren’t meant to. We encourage and help each other realize our full potential in life and in our gifts.
And when we understand that a wonderful team of people helped us get where we are today, that fact makes success so much sweeter as a result BECAUSE it’s shared.
*Make a list. Think about different areas of your life – athletics, academics, work, faith, relationships, finances, etc. and write down the people that come to mind that have built into you.
*Say thank you. An important part of being an effective leader is taking time to show appreciation for the people who have and who are making you successful. Say it to them face-to-face. Send a handwritten note. It’s important to be specific in your thanks. Tell them how they’ve impacted you and how much you value it. Make a plan to thank each person on the lists you’ve come up with above.