For the past 25 years, I’ve compiled meaningful quotes I come across that are especially impactful not only in my personal pursuit of greatness, but to those that I’ve had the pleasure of working with.
I have always marveled at the ability some people have to say something profound in just a few words and I’ve long found myself pulling these quotes up – or using them in conversation – to help think through a moment.
My hope is that as you read over some of these you will feel compelled and inspired to implement them into your daily practices as well.
The first five quotes listed below are my personal all-time favorites. Check out the complete list, and leave me a comment below with your favorites!
Make each day your masterpiece. – John Wooden
Every saint has a past… every sinner has a future. – Oscar Wilde
To retain the loyalty of those who are present, be loyal to those who are absent. – Stephen R. Covey
The role of most leaders is to get the people to think more of the leader but the role of the exceptional leader is to get the people to think more of themselves. – Booker T. Washington
People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily. – Zig Ziglar
When deciding on team members, how do you decide who is the best fit? Is it the best overall talent or are you looking for specific characteristics that will fit best into your current collection of individuals? Over the years, I have compiled some helpful tips on how to choose your team. Below are some of my favorite things to focus on when putting together your team of all-stars. Make sure you comment below on what I missed or tips you use. Enjoy.
Great work ethic. Someone who has the drive to be the best is someone I want on my squad. This person will be able to develop into many different things with your guidance. Do they have what it takes? Do they have the intangibles?
Being coachable means having the ability to adapt to what is being asked of you. This shows they are putting the team first and are willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of the group. Coach-ability is also one of the key factors of a growth mindset.
Find people that care. This seems simple, but it is crucial that you are able to find people that will have the same core values as the group. Do they care about their own success or the success of the team? They also must have a tremendous amount of care for the other team members. Are you someone who cares about the group?
Life Tip# 85: Instead of competing with people, look to complete people
Mallory Weggemann competes in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images)
One of America’s most inspiring athletes is about to compete for the gold in Rio and once again live up to the words her father would say to her when he tucked her in each night in her childhood. “You’re the best, you can make a difference, you can change the world.”
Of course, the Summer Olympics ended last month but the Paralympics kicked off last week, and American swimmer Mallory Weggemann is set to shine. Yet as remarkable as her abilities in the pool are, what makes Mallory truly special is her incredible story of determination. Her story is a challenge to each of us as we consider the ways that we handle disappointments and setbacks in our own lives.
Mallory was a stand-out varsity swimmer in high school but never set her sights on making a career of it. Instead she always imagined her future would look quite typical: a career, a family, a quiet life in suburbia. But on January 21, 2008, that future was forever changed when she walked into a clinic for a routine procedure… and she never walked out.
Players on the Monmouth Hawks bench react during the game against the USC Trojans at HP Field House. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
First, a Monmouth Hawk basketball player slam-dunks a basket on the court and the crowd’s attention immediately turns to…the bench! There, two backup players lift another player—who forms a basketball hoop with his arms—by the waist, allowing a fourth bench player to dunk an imaginary basketball through the makeshift hoop. The Monmouth bench collapses from the dunk, and the crowd goes wild.
This circus of team support (and ridiculous fun) is Monmouth basketball: The greatest sideshow in all of sports. (Just watch this video!) Already this season the Hawks have upset the UCLA Bruins, USC Trojans and Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but it is the Hawks’ choreographed bench celebrations that have become viral sensations…and a great lesson in supporting roles.
Lee Williams, my Greatness partner and a part of my writing team, spoke with the Monmouth Hawks a couple of weeks ago and walked away with three great takeaways:
1. Great teammates know their role and celebrate it.
The mini-celebrations began organically during the Hawks season-opening overtime win against the Bruins. After the win, the Hawks’ bench collectively realized just how powerful their support had been. Additionally, the public response to Monmouth’s stunts was so popular that the players decided to replicate them to generate enthusiasm…and help the team win.
And win they have. Thanks to a culture of support, the Hawks are off to their best regular season in years.
The lesson is crystal clear for any team desiring to be great: Every team member has a role and it is important to keep them all enthusiastically engaged—from the starting-five to the bottom of the depth chart.
Former Major League Baseball player Cal Ripken Jr. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
The 2015 MLB Playoffs are a battle of legacies, and one of the biggest match-ups so far involved the Chicago Cubs—a club seeking to escape a history of post-season disappointment—and the historically successful St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs won the series against its heated rival and are on to the National League Championship Series.
But away from the bright lights and TV cameras, Cal Ripken, Jr., former Baltimore Oriole and Hall-Of-Famer, is building an even greater legacy by creating a future for children, one baseball diamond at a time. And during this amazing time in the baseball season, Ripken reached an incredible milestone, cutting the ribbon on his 50th baseball diamond.
Ripken’s career has a theme of longevity. Not only does he hold the MLB record for most consecutive games started, but he’s always thinking and acting strategically with his projects—he set a goal four-plus years ago to build 50 fields in five years. The goal was set when Ripken saw a pressing need in places he hadn’t previously noticed.
“For many years after my retirement we’ve enjoyed teaching the game of baseball to young people, but we discovered that in some cities there were no safe places for these programs to exist,” said Ripken. “I realized that if we built these beautiful, synthetic fields in places that needed them, then our efforts were going to be an important contribution to the local children and communities.”
Motivated by the opportunity to make a difference, Ripken and his team spared no expense in providing big-league amenities for “the world’s finest youth baseball complexes”—all complete with synthetic turf, batting cages, lighted fields and training areas.
Luca de Meo at Volkswagen AG did it. Ed Catmull at Pixar Animation did it. Larry Page at Google also did it. Realizing the path to innovation would require revolutionary new thinking; all three leaders grasped that it would also take a new way of coalescing and harnessing talent.
Reading Collective Genius, The Innovators, Creativity, Inc. and The Google Guys yields a strong confirmation that the pursuit of innovation might require a partnership approach, not a traditional teamwork style.
Ask twenty people the difference between a team and partnership and you will likely get as many answers. We enjoy watching powerful examples of superb teamwork on the court, field or racetrack pit on weekends and think it must surely be the most effective structure for all manner of results. But, what if a collection of people with complimentary talents focused on an innovation goal actually worked better as a high performance partnership, not as a team? We sometimes use the words synonymously but there are fundamental differences.
A team is focused on accomplishing a mutual purpose and uses an effective relationship as a tool for achieving it. A partnership is focused on creating a relationship context from which all manner of outcomes can be accomplished. Among a team the task is preeminent; however, relationship distinguishes a partnership.
Stated differently, the task focus of a team might be so compelling that even a less-than-superior team could produce superior performance (see the movie Hoosiers for an example of high performance teamwork). In a partnership, excellence cannot be sustained without a superior relationship of diverse strengths (see any movie about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson for an example of a high performance partnership).
When I think of respectful creativity, I think of Steve Jobs and Apple. Steve Jobs was no saint; he had his flaws, but that just makes his story all the more amazing. The Apple Computers that reinvented home computing with the Macintosh in ’84 couldn’t have done so without a corporate atmosphere that both encouraged and nurtured creativity. When his own Board of Directors ousted him, the creativity seemed to stop.
Meanwhile, Jobs turned his creative genius to NeXT Computers and Pixar, until NeXT actually merged with Apple later and Jobs took over operations again. Was it a coincidence that game-changing products like the iMac, iPod, and iPad debuted in the years after his return? Not likely.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is this weekend. There have been many inspiring speeches delivered at the HOF over the years, but the greatest of all time occurred in 1993 when 12-year-old Jarrett Payton quietly stepped to the podium and, in a high-pitched voice, introduced his heroic father Walter “Sweetness” Payton.
Payton (in my opinion) is the greatest football player who ever lived, and the epitome of a service-directed life. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, won a Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears in 1985 and broke Jim Brown’s all-time record for career rushing yards—but it’s what he did off the field that made him so special.
“My father told me when I was young that it was your responsibility, once you’ve had some success, to reach back and bring someone with you,” Walter Payton said to me.
And these were words by which he lived. Like the greatest companies in sports and business, Payton knew his audience; he often noted that many Bears fans were blue-collar workers and could only afford to attend one game a year. He decided that if they saw him in that one game, he’d give his all for them. Payton viewed his football games as a gift to whoever may be cheering for him.
“Someone gave to you, and that is why it is your job to give back,” Payton would say to me as we were writing his autobiography.
“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people.“— Brené Brown, American author
We all want to belong, whether it’s as part of a marriage, a family, a social club, a political party, a community, a nation, or some combination of the above. The best workplace teams also provide a sense of belonging. Well-established work processes, mutual respect, a deep sense of familiarity, and a commitment to group decisions and actions can all contribute to greater productivity.
Perhaps most importantly, productive teams develop and live by a series of team norms. These represent the “rules” all team members work under, based on group consensus. They don’t have to be unanimous; but like most group decisions, everyone lives by them for the good of the whole.