Leadership / Teamwork / Winning / Disappointment
Leadership Moment — 15 May 23
Last Friday, I was at my kids’ high school’s regional track meet. Winners go to States, losers go home. One of the athletes for our high school was a freshman and had really high expectations. He was certain he could surge, PR [personal record], and qualify for States. He didn’t.
His girlfriend, also on the track team, did. The boy wasn’t there to see it. He was so disappointed that his own dream wasn’t realized, there was no room for anything else. There was no room for cheering on his girlfriend, his teammates, or even friends from other teams. In the past, he’d cheered for them all many times.
When he finished his event, he insisted on leaving immediately. He didn’t see the girls team win the region, didn’t see his girlfriend realize her dream and qualify for States, didn’t see several of his male teammates maximize their efforts to realize their dreams. He left.
This was a good kid. I’d watched him all season. He had fire. He wanted to win, wanted to be his best. He put in the work, probably more than anyone else on the team.
And that’s part of what contributed to his coming up short in this situation, at least emotionally. See, he recognized the fire in himself and he stoked it. Somewhere he transitioned from trying to help others fuel their fire, to the attitude his fire was the only one that mattered. He was frustrated with his teammates; he saw they could be better than they were.
For whatever reason, they either couldn’t see it or they didn’t want it. So they half-assed their efforts in practice, skipped reps when they could, phoned it in so to speak. This kid saw that all season. And it frustrated him and as happens so often, frustration leads to anger.
We’ve all seen that at work. People who want the pay raise or promotion but don’t want to pay the price. Nothing comes for free, except failure. Motivating peers is a unique challenge, unlike any other in organizations but I’ll write about that another time.