Varsity track helped me to see my role on a team as a leader and a team member. In middle and high school, I ran track. Track is my favorite sport. We all know basketball is my favorite sport to watch. But to actually be part of, track is what I enjoy.
I ran hurdles.
It wasn’t my choice. I was playing around (bad idea because the coach was watching) and the coach chose me for that event. I ran both the 100 and 300-meter hurdles. Goodness, to run and jump simultaneously while trying to beat a time under a minute is more challenging than one can imagine. But I was good. I was really good.
I helped my team get points.
If nothing else, my team knew they could count on points from me for those two events. As a team member, it made me feel as if my contribution greatly impacted our standings in the rankings. It also held me responsible. If I didn’t compete well then, my team wouldn’t get the points. If my team didn’t get the points, then we would end up in last place.
As an athlete, you know that’s the absolute last place you want to be. I took my role on the team seriously. That meant during practice I did what I was told to do. I ate right. I got the necessary amount of sleep (that’s never been a problem for me though). And I kept my hair and nails done like Flo Jo. She was my track idol. Yes, hair and nails were part of my routine. Who wouldn’t want to watch a gorgeous woman run and dominate her opponents? Let me stop fangirling over her.
What did being on varsity track teach me about leadership?
Well I made varsity as a freshman. I didn’t run my senior year of high school but for 3 years I was on the team and looked up to as a leader on the team by the other teammates. I learned that my actions spoke louder than my words. If I said I was going to be at practice on time, then I was at practice on time. If I said, we need to be at the bus at a certain and wasn’t why would the other teammates?
My actions and behavior were closely watched. My words needed to match them. The same goes in business.
Here’s the thing about track. It’s an individual – team sport. What does that mean? It means you are responsible for your contribution. You are responsible for your results. You are responsible to ensure your part is done so the rest of the team can move forward. Making sure your individual part is completed is just one piece. If everyone makes sure their piece is completed then the team has what it needs to succeed. But if one person stops, fails or gives up then that negatively impacts the rest of the team.
That means someone else has to step up and do what wasn’t done by that person. Or in the case of track, other people will have to ensure that they make top 3 to get more points to compensate for that person who didn’t deliver. In business we don’t get points. But we get reputations based on the results we deliver.
When you don’t deliver then your reputation is in question. And what team can win when a team member’s reputation is in question? As an event blogger, creator and producer, those won’t be people I add to my team. The event will not be questioned based on the reputation of a team member who can’t make their contribution to the team or ask for help to make sure their contribution is done on time.
When you have a team you should strive to add only Division 1 athletes (I mean A+ work ethics).