My mind often rests on the phrase, “the dynamic whole.” In many situations, I have talked or written about the fact that as we transform from manager to leader, we begin to see our self as a dynamic whole operating within a larger, dynamic whole.
Jim Harbaugh is the Michigan football coach. He is vibrant, innovative, and successful. In the February 1, 2016, edition of the Players Tribune, he writes a story about growing up.
His dad was the assistant coach at Michigan. In those days, assistant coaches made very little. The Harbaughs only had a vehicle because the local car dealer made their extras available to the assistants. If one parent had the car, the others were left to walk. Harbaugh shares a description of what commonly happened.
“Hey Dad, where’s the car?”
“No car today, guys. We’re walking… Grab a basketball: 100 with the right, 100 with the left. Let’s go!”
So we’d dribble down the sidewalk, dad leading the way, yelling: “Who’s got it better than us?!”
Me and my brother trailing behind, chanting: “No-body!”
Harbaugh then writes of the value of living in an integrated, loving family. He later turns to a different but related topic: Bo Schembechler, the legendary coach at Michigan.
Bo Schembechler was bigger than life. My dad came home from practice every day with a new story. “You’ll never believe what Bo did today! He said this and that to the team, and they were eating it up!” Most of the time, it was about the importance of being a team. Team, team, team. That was something that always stuck with me. It’s all about the team. It’s something I’ve applied to my life as a player and a coach, but also as a husband and father.
Note the last sentence. In athletics, there are many egoists. Yet over years of participation, many athletes learn to submit the ego to the good of the team. Often they discover the power of the integrated whole. When the sacrifice of many individuals makes the whole successful, the individual learns things that cannot be learned in isolation.
When we feel we are a meaningful part of the dynamic whole, we feel individually whole. Over time, we discover that the role of leader is to align each individual with the highest, collective good. When we participate in such a unit, we ask, “Who’s got it better than us?” The answer is “nobody!”
- Have you ever been a part of a great team?
- What unit in our organization is the most like a great team?
- How could we turn every unit into a great team?
- How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?