Coaching a group of players certainly presents challenges and opportunities. It can range from life altering situations to questions about where to stop and eat on the way home from the game.
What exactly is a team? And how do we blend so many personalities and interests into one common goal or mission of doing what’s best for the team to achieve success?
I believe one of the best analogies lies in the awe and splendor we see when looking at a stained glass window. While many remember them in churches and cathedrals, stained glass is used in homes for windows and can be appreciated in many forms of art.
I think a successful team is like a beautiful stained glass window. Let’s do a comparison.
What do you see when you look at a stained glass window? Usually the image portrayed is our first and lasting impression, but is their more? What about our team, what do others see as they look at the team and how they interact and blend together? What image do we portray? We know there is more to a stained glass window than immediately meets the eye.
As we look closer at a stained glass window, we see many pieces of glass, some are small while others are quite large. Some are vividly bright and others are fairly muted in color. What about our team? Are some roles bigger than others? Does size make them more or less important? Are there days when some players shine brightly with their play while others struggle under a cloud of mistakes? Will there be times when those not in the starting lineup shine brightly just by encouraging their teammates? Are their times when the least noticeable pieces of glass will have the chance to shine?
Do all the pieces of glass fit together automatically? No. Our players come to us with varying degrees of ability and demeanor. Having a vision of what our stain glassed window should look like is something we and our players have to determine. Through practice and leadership, we guide our players every day and smooth those edges to fit in the vision of success for our team.
How is all that glass held together? Strips of tin and lead are soldered together to hold each glass in place during the process before being permanently sealed. How about our team? What holds it together? Is it the commitment and encouragement we use every day to build confidence? Is it our players’ ability to understand that giving up themselves for the team is essential? Is it our ability to explain to each player their role and how important it is to the team?
What if the tiniest piece of glass were missing as we gazed at the stained glass window? Would we notice? I feel certain we would, and it would impact our impression and the beauty of the glass. What about our team? Would we be impacted by a player not showing up, being injured, quitting our team or having to sit out a game? Certainly, but just as a master craftsman can repair the window, so do we have the ability to restore our team.
Stained glass windows aren’t usually built quickly, especially the older, magnificent ones. Those craftsmen used painstaking detail and labor to make sure everything was just right, just as you do with your team. If you look closely, you’ll see the glass perfectly fits together and the image is striking. You may also notice that the only wear and tear is the lead and tin that holds it together. It may look worn. Not surprising since the lead used to keep our team together, the commitment, dedication and encouragement, takes a lot of effort and can become a labor. But that’s the process you control and, just like the master craftsmen, always pay attention with pain-staking detail.
Take the time to look at your team as they shine brightly during a game, with each player contributing a great deal to the success of the team. Let them know how important their role is and how much you appreciate everything they do. Remember, stained glass windows wouldn’t be the same without all the pieces.
I wish you and your team the best!