Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Innocent Climb

You may have heard this expression, or seen it plastered on the walls of a high school locker room:

On a Team ... Together Everyone Achieves More!

When teams do work well, as in the above photo, this is precisely what happens.

Together, Everyone DOES Achieve More.

But, that's the end result. The prize. Not the process. And when you stop and think about it, the slogan offers little or nothing about what individuals need to know to achieve that.

Everywhere you turn, you'll discover - whether you signed up or not - you're on a team. There are teams at home. Teams at work. Teams at school, church and throughout the community you call yours. Growing up you may have heard how important it was to be a "team player" and how vital it was to your ultimate success, but where exactly do you learn to refine these essential skills?

One of the best handbooks ever written on the subject comes from a guy who has "been there, done that".

The son of a minor-league baseball player, Pat grew up in Schenectady, New York where he starred as a high school basketball player at Linton High School. On December 29, 1961, Pat and his Linton High mates pulled off the unthinkable, beating heavily favored Power Memorial which featured the best high school player in the country, Lew Alcindor (who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). As fate would have it, Pat and Kareem would get to know each other very well in the NBA.

What Pat lacked in natural ability, he more than made up in work ethic and after a career as a bench player, he moved on to become the head coach of a juggernaut that would become known as "Showtime". In doing so, Pat established himself as one of the great coaches in sports history and while winning championships with the L.A. Lakers and the Miami Heat, learned some valuable lessons about teamwork along the way. As he puts it, "All of my contacts and experiences have proved to me, over and over again, that the complex inner rhythms of teamwork - flows of ambition, power, cooperation, and emotion - are the keys to making dreams come true".

Pat's best-selling book, "The Winner Within", chronicle's key elements in the journey of any successful team.

Beginning with The Innocent Climb.

In this context, Innocence means understanding the team comes first and being willing to be carried along by that. Innocence doesn’t mean being naive. But it does require humility to see that teamwork and all of its benefits only happen when EVERYONE puts the team first and conquers the territorial instinct otherwise known as The Disease of Me. Were it not for The Innocent Climb, it would have been impossible for Pat to teach Kareem, Magic Johnson and some of the greatest players in the league to play as a team and not as individuals.

Maybe your team at work or at home is no different.

Perhaps you are surrounded by players who always want the ball. All of the attention. All of the glory.

But somehow, Pat's Lakers overcame all that, so much so that Magic Johnson became the first player in NBA history to give money back to his team so they would be able to sign a new role player to help win a championship.

Pat Riley has coached 5 NBA champions and has earned a spot in the Hall of Fame because he understood the magic of the The Innocent Climb.

In basketball, teamwork is the key to success, but according to Pat Riley, it’s the key to life as well. And right about now, you might be asking:

How does a struggling team form a covenant to work together in our lady peace instead of separately as rival factions?

How does a successful team battle complacency?

How does any team overcome the thunderbolts that strike out of the blue?

The lessons taught in "The Winner Within" apply to business, family relationships and any atmosphere where cooperation is required for success. Whether its at home , at the office or on the basketball court, teamwork is an essential part of everything we do.

And it all begins with The Innocent Climb.

Are you ready to take that first step?

"Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your teammates"


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