How Important is the Spirit of the Game?
Listening to someone share their passion can be such a joy. Time can almost stand still in those moments as you get swept up in the depth of connection that person has to their particular interest. And when it's also resonating with those around the person sharing, well that's where great conversations, engagement and learning really live. One particular example of this from last week still has me buzzing.
"When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible." - Howard Schultz
The passion was Ultimate Frisbee. The person sharing was one inspiring 18 year old girl. As she spoke more and more questions began flying around from the group as we pulled apart and got playful with what had each of our curiosities piquing. One central theme had hooked me though. The deep respect for and intentional processes created to support embodying the Spirit of the Game. Whether it be before the game, within the game or after the game. To be honest, from what I was hearing it felt like it rippled right throughout a players life.
"Your opponent is your partner, not your enemy. Honor him and the game by giving him the respect of your best effort. Together, push each other to play the game as well as you can play it so that when it's over, no matter who wins, both of you can be proud of the excellence your competition created." - Matt Weiss, Shady Side Academy Boys Division II
No umpires or referees. Advisors strategically placed around the field who can be called on for their perspective if it's required. The ability to in an empowering way make known when you feel possession has been impacted in a way that's outside of the rules. Then the ability to in an empowering way challenge that call that's been made against you. Processes that support the constructive and effective resolution to these calls or challenges. The list could go on and on. But then I heard about Spirit Captains and Spirit Time Outs and the game transformed. It reminded me of what true leadership looks, sounds and feels like.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” - Martin Luther King Jr.
How often in sport, work, learning or our home environments do we feel ours or others thoughts, words or actions shift or slip away but we haven't established the processes to purposefully pause, connect and realign to what's most important? How often do we separate, isolate and exclude ourselves or others as we navigate the inevitable challenges, conflicts and misunderstandings that have to be navigated? How often do we feel that we'd love to be able to live up to our individual and shared code (values that guide our purposeful thoughts, words and actions that allow us to make a difference in our own and others lives) but winning has got to take precedent as that's what success is? So many thoughts came to mind as I listened and asked questions last week, and subsequently have pondered it since.
"The real goal of what we’re doing is to have a positive impact on the world." - Ed Catmull
I loved that there were Spirit Captains. Leaders who not only can make a difference within their own team when it comes to embodying the Spirit of the Game, but also when interacting with the other team's Spirit Captain when a Spirit Time Out is called. I loved that when a Spirit Time Out is called both teams circle up in the middle of the field when the conversation is being had. Not one team on each side of the circle, instead all players intentionally intermixed to represent what they know to be true. I loved the emphasis on the Spirit of the Game. They've worked out their why, and it's definitely bigger than winning and losing. Nothing is perfect, that's for sure, but there was plenty to love from what I was listening to last week.
"Leaders have three fundamental responsibilities: They craft a vision, they build alignment, and they champion execution." - The Work of Leaders