Teachers, managers, gurus, yogis, entrepreneurs and others… take note! There are valuable lessons to be learned from the Boston Red Sox 2013 World Series victory. In the Spring there were not expected to have a very startling year. Many pundits believed that after a disastrous 2012 they would be hard pressed to win 50 games. Instead they won the World Series. What led to such a turnaround - from last to first in one season?
1. The 2013 Boston Red Sox team was a genuine healthy “tribe” in the language of author and entrepreneur, Seth Godin’s best seller “Tribes”
According to Godin, “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
Right from Spring Training this year the Red Sox had an idea. Maybe, just maybe, we can do something special this year. They had some skill and talent as well, but so did a lot of teams in 2013. So where did their “edge” come from? Did they communicate better? Or was it the quality of their communication? If you look at the media interviews with manager John Farrell you begin to get a clue. If he communicated with his players as well as he communicated with the media… with candor, honesty, a little humility, some respect, fun, and clearly a love for the game…. And IF they were ingredients of ALL of his communication throughout the year with just about everyone…… wouldn’t that be powerful enough to perhaps help create an “edge”.
Did you see get a chance to see the Red Sox players on the bench during just about every game of the season. They were “connecting” but not out of boredom of being on the road for the 50th game of the season or just to pass the time of day, but out of genuine concern to find a way to win – to make the team better, one at bat at a time.
2. Every member of the team became valued for who they were and what they brought to the game.
No matter if you were in the starting lineup or coming off the bench to pinch hit - this one was huge. Did you hear player interviews this year compared to past years and notice the difference. This year they were not just politely unselfish…. They were GENUINELY unselfish in the valuing of each other’s contributions to the team and….
3. They made ego needs secondary to team needs.
4. Every member of the team genuinely felt important to the team– each being ready to step up and perform to the maximum when called upon to do so.
Time and time again you would see someone step up and create the big moment in the game right when it was needed. When called upon they showed up – big time! They had practiced for just that moment.
5. The whole team focus was singular on “one game at a time” “one at bat at a time” “one pitch at a time” - first game of the season, last game, world series game….. no different – right here, right now, this moment.
This approach is very zen and yogic. Being in the moment – Concentration - Focus. All those great things we learn about that help bring our full attention to the present. For this team, there was a minimum of distractions. They were there to play and playing mattered.
6. There was a blend of mature talent, raw young talent, know-how, and enthusiasm with older members leading the younger members through respect gained as leaders rather than imposed as a righteous privilege.
Oh yeah! Isn’t this a break with tradition and a little heretical perhaps? Aren’t the rookies supposed to shut up and say nothing? Not on this team. Everyone mattered and everyone contributed, learning from each other.
When you think about it, it’s a pretty simple recipe for success. Implementation is not so simple. It takes a tribe leader who helps all tribe members become leaders too. THEN, and only then - it’s easy.
If we mere mortals can lead our “tribe” or team or corporation or personal business, or even our life, on these principles, then maybe we could win it all too? Thanks for the lesson Red Sox, and good luck next year!
Michael Lee, MA is the author of “Turn Stress Into Bliss”, the founder of Phoenix Rising Yoga, a pilot, an entrepreneur, and a long time fan of the Boston Red Sox.