The 2019 World Series championship won by the Washington Nationals is historic. Sports Illustrated described the unlikely victory in this way:
“No team has ever overcome greater odds to win the World Series than the Washington Nationals. They rallied from 12 games back in the standings to make the postseason as a wild card. Then in the playoffs they became the first team to mount five come-from-behind wins while facing elimination, including a 6-2 comeback to win World Series Game 7 against the Houston Astros. With big home runs and gutsy pitching performances, the Nationals prevailed to bring a World Series title to the country’s capital for the first time since 1924.”
How did they do what was seemingly unlikely, and in this case, turns out to be historic? How did they win every elimination game in which they were behind in the score? How did they come from 12 games back in the standings to becoming world champions? Will the answers to these questions provide any clues for success in our own lives and in the organizations to which we belong? Yes. Something happened on the playing field and behind the scenes that created an environment for success. A place of victory when defeat seemed the mostly likely outcome. Something happened here. We can learn from it.
When the Nationals general manager, Mike Rizzo, was questioned about the team effort, he stated that the average age of the players was higher as a group than in any other team in Major League Baseball. The underestimated Nationals team is comprised of more older players than other MLB teams. When I hear the word ‘older’ to describe 30 and 40-year-olds, I have to smile. Not old, at least to me. Just getting started. But, older in the sense of experience, yes. Does experience matter? And, do we have to wait to get it before we can be successful? Good questions.
The general manager felt like the combination of older and younger players was a difference maker for the team. And, I would emphasize that in the end, it was a combination. Not just older players, but also younger players.
The truth is that all of us have a part of the puzzle that can help our team to win. Teams that win learn how to develop and utilize the contribution of all of the members. No one is left behind. Everyone has value. Can a more experienced team member learn from a less experienced member? Yes, absolutely yes. And, part of the reason is because we are all unique. We all have something special that will make a difference. Really smart teams learn what it is that each person can contribute, and then make sure to not only recognize each person’s gift, but to grow and develop it. A special gift may look great on paper. But, only when we play the music in our heart and soul does it matter. Our gift is not meant to be internal. It is meant to be given to others, to all the teams of which we are a part. Are you right now sharing the gifts you possess with all your teams? How is that working?
When teams incorporate all the gifts of their members, surprising results happen. Unlikely outcomes. Even, historic or impossible may be the words that are used. Exceptional is what I call it in my book, The BET, which was published in October 2019. In this book, I write in much detail what it takes to create and develop exceptional teams. Here is an excerpt from this book:
- are all in
- have trust
- have unity of purpose
- have great leaders
- cheer each other on
- communicate well
- have centerfielders
All of these components work together to utilize each and every member and to grow and develop their gifts. Exceptional teams are all in. Each member is in the fight. And, each gift is part of the total that achieves the victory.
Are you ready for the impossible? Start with your own gift. Recognize it. Then give it away. Do not keep the music that is in your soul. Play it. That is why you have it. To give it to others. To give it away.
One single gift from one member of a team could create exceptional results today for us personally or in our organizations. One gift could be the difference between possible and impossible. Between average and exceptional. One gift.
What is your one gift? Will you share it today?