At our most recent VCF Presents, the speaker was Coach Bobby Ross, retired NFL football coach. At first glance, having a retired football coach speak to a room full of business advisors, bankers, mezzanine lenders, accountants and business owners may seem unusual. However, the lessons Coach Ross spent his entire life sharing with his players are no less applicable in the board room than they are on the football field.
In his talk, he shared with us several stories from his life as a coach starting at VMI in 1965, including a Super Bowl appearance with the San Diego Chargers in 1994, and culminating at Army in 2006. Coaching for Bobby has been much more than just assessing athletic skills and calling plays. Throughout his career at both the college and professional level, Coach stressed to each team that their focus and their attitude needed to be about “We” not “Me.” He cited numerous examples of players and individuals who epitomized this outlook not only on the field, but in all aspects of life. He also discussed, while graciously not mentioning any names, players who only cared about “Me.” Those players who were only focused on their own achievements generally had very short careers. Conversely, those players that worked together as team, and contributed to the organization as a whole not only had success on the field but in life in general.
As I listened to Coach Ross talk, my mind kept coming back to the famous Aristotle quote, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” When a team, whether in business or in sports, is able to work together and put the organization above the individual, much more can be accomplished than just the sum of all the individual achievements. We see this play out in both sports and business every day. Just as the team with the best athletes doesn’t always win, the company with the smartest people isn’t always successful. Success is derived from unity and a service to something more than just yourself. No one who has found true success in life has been able to do it alone.
Coach Ross’ conclusion was straight-forward but something of which I often need reminding. Those teams that are composed of players who embrace the “We” mentality will find much greater success than those that put an emphasis on individual achievement. Teams that rally around a common goal and move forward as a unit have the capacity to accomplish great things. In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
Please join us for the next VCF Presents on November 17th featuring Enrique Brito who will be talking about Negotiation and The Art in the M&A Deal. Register here.