Block 12, Team Spirit - Bottom of the Ninth #124


Bottom of the 9th - Team Spirit

Team Spirit - Block 12, John Wooden's Pyramid of Success by Keith Wahl

Writing about this row of Wooden's Pyramid has made me realize that this is where much of my intentional planning exists as a coach. We make sure our athletes are properly conditioned through our Performance program. We work to refine the skills of our players. And, finally, we make sure our players show and experience Team Spirit.

In his book, Baseball as a Road to God, John Sexton highlights how two philosophers, Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly, explain how we feel when "something overwhelming occurs":

"...and carries you along as on a powerful wave. The wave metaphor is crucial here. When a wave is at its most powerful, it is a solid foundation that can support as many riders as will fit upon it. It can even sweep up more as it runs along. But when the wave passes, nothing but its memory survives. Try to stand upon the still water and you'll find that the supporting foundation is gone. Those moments of sport are like that. When you are in the midst of them, riding the wave, they carry you along and give meaning to life."

While their explanation is in the context of a cheering crowd, I've experienced the same in the context of a team. I've been blessed to experience this "wave" as both a player and a coach. Some teams capture this idea, jump on the wave together, and ride it until nothing but a precious memory remains. Team Spirit, at its most beautiful, is when "the star of the team is the team" - as Wooden puts inside the block.

In words, achieving Team Spirit sounds easy. But in practical application in our lives, it's anything but easy. I'm convinced that Team Spirit is only achievable through the Holy Spirit. It's an indication of the Trinity at work in our midst. In our flesh, we're far more likely to succumb to "The Disease of Me" than we are to invest into a team concept (refer to our Bottom of the Ninth from January 19 to remember the element from "The Disease of Me"). Even though we say, and may even believe, that we desire Team Spirit over our own selfish desires, we are far more likely to act out of the flesh of selfishness than the Holy Spirit.

Wooden took the time to differentiate between between "willingness" and "eagerness" as his understanding of Team Spirit grew:

"I once heard team spirit defined as a willingness to lose oneself in the group for the good of the group. I used that definition for a long time, but always thought it fell short. I changed 'willingness' to 'eagerness.' Willingness is more like 'I will if I have to.' Eagerness communicates an attitude of 'I'll be happy to sacrifice personal accomplishments for the good of the team.'"

May we all seek to be eager to show Team Spirit by tapping into the Holy Spirit no matter what our team looks like - athletic, work, or our families.

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