What You and I Do Feeds What We Become

What you and I do feeds what we become” has emerged as my new coaching point. I use this line currently while addressing incoming freshmen for the high school football team. This group has been showing up to lift weights and learn what high school football will be about. They are showing up to become the best football players they can, which is commendable at that age. As a result, we have a group of individuals working out at the same time and in the same place. However, football is a team sport and not a collection of individuals. We need to have them start working together as a team – communicating with each other, lifting with others beyond their best buds, and encouraging each other.

This saying fits with the overall unity and teamwork theme a coach stresses. It also applies to pretty much anything a group of people or team needs to accomplish. What a business achieves. What a volunteer organization attains. What a community aspires to be. How a nation envisions itself. Distinct value-add behavior, beyond performing activities or tasks, serves the overall contribution and feeds the collective whole.

I have always said, my record setting season was a result of being 1/11th  of an incredible team defense where all individuals did their part. Teams struggled to run the football against our front seven and we had tremendous pass rushers. This created the need for opponents to pass with a great sense of urgency. Plus, my defensive backfield teammates did their job putting me in the right place to do my job. What they and I did, feed one of the nation’s best defenses in Division 1-AA.

When I sold IoT devices to farmers, I made a visit to Organic Valley in La Farge, Wisconsin. Organic Valley is the nation’s largest farmer-owned organic cooperative, producing organic food before it was a popular marketing technique. A collection of individual farmers feeding a larger outcome. Organic Valley focuses on providing opportunities for farmers to make a living, sustainability of the land; and providing consumers with healthy dairy products free of hormones and antibiotics. Individual strengths combine to produce an outcome which no single member could achieve.

What individuals fail or choose not to do also feeds what teams and communities become or fail to become. I had a recent experience at work as part of a team challenge being coordinated by a Social Committee. Winning would require 100% participation by the team over a 6 week period. In week one, one individual did not meet the required expectations, eliminating us from the opportunity to claim success. In 2007, Appalachian State rocked college football with a season-opening upset of Michigan. After the game a Michigan player noted they were playing 10- Man Football because on every play one player failed to do his job. In football, if one guy is not doing his job, success doesn’t happen.

Community building is often directly connected to individual compassion. It requires an individual’s choice to use their skills for the larger issues at hand. Intentionally living in a family or community setting, participating in a group activity, or being part of a team gives us countless opportunities to act for the betterment of the whole – acts of forgiveness, gratitude, charity, concern, and consideration.

Becoming better versions of ourselves creates a better world. By constantly growing and improving our own skills and knowledge, those we interact with are directly touched by that improvement and we inspire others. A rising tide raises all ships. We need to consider ourselves an individual wave in that rising tide.

What you and I do feeds what we become. The focus moves from doing to being. Doing feeds being. My concern as a coach is the team we become, as opposed to how much weight is lifted. We either are the team we want to be, or we are not – there is no try.

Paul’s first letter to the church of Corinth provides insight into the life of an early Christian community. Through this letter we glimpse both the strengths and the weaknesses of a small group striving for a cohesive community. Although many of the Corinthian Christians were quite faithful, certain members were identifying themselves exclusively with individual Apostles and not the church.

1 Corinthians 1:10, “I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.”

1 Corinthians 12:14-20, “Each part of our body has been given to us to serve not ourselves, but the rest of the church. And when we work together, we are at our strongest and able to perform the will of God. develop the need for diversity of function among the parts of a body without threat to its unity.”

We also see in the early chapters of Acts (2:42-47, 4:32-35) how individuals devoted themselves to the teachings of the Apostles and continued the practice described during Jesus’ ministry of the sharing of material possessions for the needs of the community. They also devoted themselves to the building up of their faith community by meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes.

What you and I do feeds what a community becomes. We must use our God-given talents for the greater good to build God’s Kingdom on earth. Individual compassion and love for others to “renew the face of earth.” It is our choice to act and model Jesus’ ministry.


Scroll to Top