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The 5 S’s of Team Success

Earl Middleton No Comments

teamTEAM: families, companies, churches, community organizations, government entities. They’re all teams. They all function by using the same five fundamental principles. And they all succeed or fail based on their effectiveness in implementing these 5 S’s of team success into their culture.

1. Script. This is the life blood of every successful team. The ancient Greeks used the word symphone, from which we get the English word symphony, to express our idea of agreement. It literally means making the same sounds or SAYING the same things. It doesn’t necessarily mean BELIEVING the same things. For a team to succeed everyone has to make the same confessions publicly despite what they think, feel, or believe privately. This requires individuals sublimating their belief system for the success of the team. Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant BELIEVED he was the best player on the Lakers’ team during their threepeat in the early 2000s, but when it was time to win in the playoffs he often SAID that Shaquille O’Neal was the one who would lead them to victory. Despite the cacophony that surrounded the team it was their internal symphony, their decision to stick to a common script, that kept them centered and balanced, allowing them to win the ultimate prize in their sport. What script is your team using to produce its unique symphony?
2. System. Every team needs a belief system that organizes everyone and everything in the team’s universe and makes agreement, symphony, possible. In order to say the same things there has to be an established mantra, a communal coda that everyone adopts. This constellation of principles and behaviors must earn everyone’s trust, every team member’s assurance and conviction, that it will produce a specific set of results. This is the team belief system that everyone adopts by sublimating their personal belief system. For the threepeat Lakers that system was the triangle offense. What system is your team using to produce the results it wants?
3. Sacrifice. Some call it “buy-in,” but buy-in suggests immediacy. When we buy something there is usually an immediate exchange of goods and/or services for some sort of currency. Sacrifice is more like an investment. People “offer up” something of value to themselves in the hopes or belief that they will reap a greater reward at some point in the future. Sacrifice first requires that everyone on the team be aware of what they possess that is of value to themselves and others, and what that approximate value is. The threepeat Lakers boasted several players who were featured scorers on their previous teams. But with the Lakers these players sacrificed high scoring averages, and in some instances the contract money that went with being a leading scorer, for the promise of winning a championship. What sacrifices are the people on your team making in order to succeed?
4. Sum<Parts. In successful teams the sum is less than its parts. I know you’ve heard it the other way around all your life, “The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.” This suggests that commitment to a group identity and group action produces a total result greater than what would be possible if everyone acted individually. Hence the popular acronym for team: together everyone achieves more. This also suggests that synergy magically transforms the ordinary into something special and that cooperation elevates individuals to a level of functionality they are incapable of by themselves. It’s a nice sentiment, and we’d all like to believe it because it means that despite our ordinariness we can be a part of something special and feel elevation to a level previously believed unattainable. The truth is that successful teams are much more often less than the sum of their parts because it takes talented individuals to win. Teams win not when everyone does more than they’re capable of; but when everyone does less than they’re capable of so that everyone can do everything together. The “magic” of synergy is like lightning in a bottle. It’s not subject to scientific replication under controlled conditions. It’s more reliant on the whim and caprice of the “gods.” The discipline of restraint on the part of the talented is a far more reliable approach, far more subject to human control, and much more likely to be replicated under controlled conditions. Even on teams where there is an unquestioned megastar, in order for that team to experience success there has to be a constellation of other stars who intentionally dim their shine for the good of the team, as with the threepeat Lakers. Is your team greater or less than the sum of its parts?
5. Star. Every successful team has one main star, and everyone on the team “agrees” who that person or star is (whether they “believe” it or not). That’s the go-to person, the closer, the one counted on to lead the way when the going gets tough. And because leaders do the hard things first, the star is the person who’s always tackling the hard stuff. Whether or not that person is considered the most talented, or the most experienced, or the most fill-in-the-blank on the team, s/he is always highly respected for his/her willingness to and insistence on handling the hard stuff first, and showing others how to do it. Who’s the star on your team?

Is Your Behavior Telling Your Spouse to Cheat?

Earl Middleton No Comments

orgasmscoverSome 3800 years ago Sarah, the ‘mother of faith’ told her husband, Abraham, “Go, sleep with my slave” Hagar. Some women are still doing this today, telling their husbands to cheat on them. Not so much by what they say, but by what they do. And many more husbands are listening to their wives, like Abraham did, rather than listening to God.

What could possibly drive a woman to tell her husband, through words or actions, to go out and cheat on her?

Although she lived so long ago Sarah is not unlike many women in relationships today. She had a desire to build a life with her husband and leave a legacy together. But after years of stumbling in her attempts to keep her end of the bargain, and in the face of God’s promise that an heir would come through Abrahams flesh and blood, Sarah did what many do after failure. She gave up.

Not only did she give up, she was convinced she had a good reason for giving up. She felt justified in giving up. In fact, she was convinced it was the only thing left for a God-fearing woman to do. Sarah tells Abraham to sleep with Hagar because she believes God is “holding her back/detaining her/stopping her/restraining her” from having children. Here is wisdom: if you believe God is holding you back don’t try to find a way around the road block! Stay held up! Stay kept back! God’s timing is perfect. If you’re being held back, held up, delayed, stopped, restrained, it’s for a good reason that you can’t see at the moment from your moribund vantage point. Stop trying to run God’s red lights. It will always cost you.

Sarah gave up in the bedroom, and blamed it on God. Have you secretly given up on your ability to make it work in the bedroom with your husband? Actions speak louder than words. And when you decide in your heart, like Sarah, to drop the rope, outsource the intimate component of your marriage and let your husband fend for himself, by your actions you’re telling him to cheat, to go sleep with another woman. And yes, it will usually be someone beneath you, the equivalent of your handmaiden. It is always a bad idea, and against the will and plan of God, to drop the rope, give up on intimacy in your relationship, and tell your husband (via your behavior) to go find Hagar.

Men, do you need more intimacy in your marriage?

But husbands, you are equally at fault. Just because she tells you to go sleep with another woman doesn’t mean that you should. Just because Eve told Adam to eat the fruit didn’t mean that he should have. And notice she told him to do it without saying a word! Scripture says “she also gave some to [Adam]…and he ate it.” Actions speak louder than words. But your wife’s actions or words are not what you should listen to when you already have a word from God! If your spouse is proposing an action that conflicts with the word of God, don’t listen!

It seemed like a good idea to Sarah to let Abraham connect with someone more capable of giving him what he wanted, what he was promised by God, what was rightfully his. It seemed like a good idea, but there’s a way that seems right to a human being that always results in death. What Sarah proposed to Abraham was in her mind to achieve the end result that God wanted. But with God the means are always just as important as the ends, because He is a God of ways and means. It’s not enough to just get it done, you’ve got to get it done God’s way. Sarah thought, “It’s just the man’s seed that matters, and my handmaiden is gonna raise the child for me anyway. I don’t have the energy at this age to be chasing around no active little boy.” But it was a bad idea, because God didn’t tell her to do it. And by doing what seemed good to her she delayed the inevitable plan of God for her life and ended up having to raise Isaac by herself without her handmaiden and chasing around an active little boy at an even older age! It seemed like a good idea to Abraham to “go into” Sarah’s younger, more exciting, and nubile handmaiden as many times as necessary until he was sure, and I mean really sure, for sure sure, that she was pregnant, and then a few more times just in case. But it was a bad idea, because God didn’t tell him to do it. Failure can be part of the journey with God, even in the bedroom. Giving up in word or deed just creates a mess.