Today’s post is the monthly reflection from the May 2004 issue of  The Front Porch Newsletter.  If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.

Volleyball ServeIt had been a great first day. My daughter’s volleyball team had gone undefeated in their end-of-the season tournament. That was until they met a fairly mediocre team for the last set of the tournament’s first day. The first game mirrored the decisive victories they had been experiencing throughout the day. But the second and third game did not. It was a puzzling pair of losses. At the team dinner that night, I happened to sit next to the coach. Christina is a steady force for the team. I knew how much my daughter and her fellow teammates respected her. Was it because of her experience in training Olympic athletes? Was it her knowledge of the game or some specific skills? If so, these were only minor points. Three things, over the next 18-hours would give me a great insight into their deep respect for Christina .

Our conversation at dinner would be my first insight. I asked her what she thought had happened in that final set of the day. Were they just tired? Did they simply lose focus? What she said surprised me. Her answer was no and no. She then explained, “The other team had gone into a mode of “sloppy” play, simply doing anything to get it over the net — and at age thirteen you can win games doing that. I called a time-out and told the team that I would rather lose the game than drop to that level of play. At age thirteen, they are still learning to master the right skills and techniques. Staying committed to the learning process requires a greater risk and you are going to make mistakes. The payoff is in the long-term. I was not about to sacrifice the long term for a short term victory.” In Christina’s mind, those were not losses. Those were investments.

The next morning she squeezed the whole team into her hotel room. They played a game of trying to identify each other’s voice without being able to see their fellow teammates. A simple exercise, but a useful weapon for a game where you often have only a voice to trust in those split-second decisions.

These were two powerful lessons for the girls. Don’t shortcut the long-term for a short-term win. And learn to hear and trust your teammates to the point that it starts to become second-nature. Great lessons for volleyball — AND powerful lessons for your business.

By noon the next day, it had already paid off. They had won the championship! What happened next was the most powerful insight as to why these girls love their coach. She asked the girls to line-up on the sideline of the court. And then one-by-one she purposefully gave each one of them a hug. As the parents looked on, it was hard to hold back your tears.

They say that people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. These girls may very well forget winning the championship, but they will never forget the coach who got them there! How will your team remember you?!?