Be A, Not A (Part 3)

When I was developing content for my role as a High School Football Coach and Character Coach, I built about 50 separate lessons around the “Be A, Not A” concept. It very well could be the content for my next book. For now, I am using this content to supplement the creation of new blog material. With a self-imposed limit of about 1100 words for blog posts (yes, I am aware I often exceed that limit) I have around 10 more blog posts to cover them all. This is Part 3 in the series of posts on these lessons. To see Part 2 and Part 1 please click on the hyperlinks.

Be a teammate, not a player.

“Team” is a synonym for “community.” Interdependent players and coaches sharing their gifts to one another’s benefit. Communities and business organizations are the same. Every individual is inseparably bound to the other and to the success of the team. Successful teams and communities just don’t happen, they take intentional hard work and dedication. They require trust, not control. We belong to each other. We need each other. We affect each other.

A key concept in teamwork is ‘abundance mentality,’ compared with ‘scarcity mentality.’ In the scarcity mentality mindset, one believes in a finite amount of success, and they need to get their share. This type of mentality leads to selfish behavior. The abundance mentality operates on the principle that the ‘success pie’ continues to grow, and everyone can be successful. It is a win-win attitude. People with the abundance mentality are better friends, teammates, and colleagues as they help everyone win.

In a divisive society, we are more concerned with the value of the player (individual) and not the team (society). Phil Jackson, an eleven-time NBA Champion Head Coach, said it best, “Surrender the ‘me’ for the ‘we’.” Being a teammate benefits the goals and ambitions of the team while being a player benefits personal goals and ambitions.

A beautiful picture of teamwork, standing together in unity, and fighting together for the Gospel is in Paul’s letter to the Philippians (1:27b), ” I may hear news of you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind struggling together for the faith of the gospel.” Paul builds on this concept in 1 Corinthians 12:12–30 and uses the analogy of the human body to show how each individual Church member is essential to the entire body of the Church. Paul noted that the human body operates as one whole but is made up of many parts or members, each of which is important.

Joshua told the people (3:5), “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will perform wonders among you.” The words are “among you” and not “in you.” Individuals perform better because of the complementary combination of teammates.

Be a competitor, not a spectator.

I coached my youngest daughter in rec soccer when she was around 10 years old. The field we used for practice was next to the football field and we often had the cheerleaders practicing near us. One practice I noticed the girls were paying more attention than normal to the cheerleaders. I took that opportunity to point out that in life, it is better to be a competitor, a participant, and a contributor, rather than a cheerleader, or worse just an audience.

“Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.” – Jackie Robinson

Society depends on interactivity and connectivity. We are here to give as well as to get, and if we don’t give much, we won’t get much. Business, community, and family all require we get off the sidelines and into the arena. Successful organizations need contributors, not cheerleaders. Our founding fathers included in our Declaration of Independence the phrase that “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are our inalienable rights. The key point is that happiness requires pursuit, that we are active and engaged.

“The U.S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.” – Benjamin Franklin

In Philippians 3:14, St. Paul writes that God has called us to be competitors. To compete to win for His glory, “I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.” Then in his first letter to the Corinthians (9:24-27) Paul expressed fear that even he should be disqualified if he was to only spectate or cheer on others and not compete, “Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.”

Be willing, not capable.

Mike Tomlin has a great quote, “It is not about what you are capable of, it is about what you are willing to do.” Capabilities abound with many of us. As Thomas Edison said, “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” Capability is the power or ability to do something. It is based on potential. Being capable does not mean an outcome occurs. Jose Marti, the Cuban poet and philosopher writing at the time of Cuba’s quest for independence from Spain wrote, “It is a sin not to do what one is capable of doing.”

Willingness is the state of readiness, being prepared to act. There is a proverb attributed to the Dayak people of Borneo, “Where the heart is willing it will find a thousand ways, but where it is unwilling it will find a thousand excuses.” Orison Sweet Marden, the American Author who founded SUCCESS magazine in 1897 wrote, “What keeps so many people back is simply unwillingness to pay the price, to make the exertion, the effort to sacrifice their ease and comfort.” Success is more dependent on willingness than capability. A coaching adage is, “hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Both Jeremiah and Moses, initially, resist God’s call because they feel they are not capable. But God reminds them that nothing is impossible with God. He does not need their capabilities; He simply needs their willingness. Christ willingly gave up His position as God to suffer and die as a man. God willingly gave us His Son for our salvation.

As part of presenting these “Be A, Not A” lessons, I advised my players that just like running and lifting, we can condition ourselves around mental, social, and spiritual development. However, this development does not always happen in a gym or controlled environment. It occurs in real life as we discover along our journey. Let’s be willing and competing teammates. Let’s own our journey and our choices. The more we do so, the better we become.

“Earth is not your home. Earth is your gymnasium. Heaven is your home.” – Father Scott Seethaler

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