I was riding my bicycle on a hot, muggy, summer day and passed a small group of high school athletes standing at a corner obviously waiting. My route happened to bring me back past them a little over 5 minutes later. Their body language clearly indicated impatience and annoyance. A short way further down the road I passed two slightly younger runners, and then not much further I passed 4 more runners. Putting two and two together, I realized that this was what is commonly called a captain’s practice. Schools are not allowed to have official practices during part of the summer break, so it is common for the student team captain to run informal conditioning runs.
As I was riding away it struck that there is something to learn in everything, and here was a simple life lesson. The first set of students had completed the run faster and was clearly annoyed by having to wait for the younger or less fit student athletes to complete the run. You can easily imagine how the slower runners will feel when they finish and are greeted with looks of annoyance. It’s clearly not a great way to build team rapport. Now just imagine, rather than standing around impatiently waiting, if the faster runners had circled back and rejoined their slower teammates and offered encouragement. This encouragement could have been simply falling in alongside them and quietly keeping them company: a great way to build trust and team spirit. This was a lesson these young students had yet to learn.
This is not simply an observation about athletic teams, but leadership in general. A true leader is not just being the fastest or strongest. True leadership requires being supportive and encouraging. Keep this in mind as you pursue your careers and life in general. Doing so will increase your effectiveness and success much more than individual effort ever will.
Start encouraging others today by submitting a description of what a day in the life of your type of job is really like on UltiCareer, the website designed to help students and anyone considering a career change research career options and answer the age old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
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