Making the Playoffs: a Measure of Success in Sports

I did not capitalize “a” in the title of this entry, because I do not consider winning to be the only thing. I understand the nature of the business of sports and related entities.  Yet for the vast majority of all of us on civilized (and even the so-called uncivilized portion of) planet earth, sports and the playing out thereof are merely about lessons learned.

There is the diversion. The positive physical, emotional and mental residue of hardy exercise. There are memories which last a life time, friends who can not be replaced and moments of collaboration which humble us greatly about our individual selves. And yes, there are the  occassional “individual achievements” which, in Yo Bundy fashion, grow over time into superhuman cataclysms of physical prowess. And of course the accompanying knowing grins of loved ones who let us live those fantasies.

Sport is about community. Communities do bicker. They do lose sight of the greater good. they do, at times, fail to achieve set upon goals. But sport is about ‘action’, first and foremost. Without movement, there is absolutely no result. Result: gold, silver, bronze or ice , they are all temporary sculptures, trophies and medallins. the lasting lessons go beyond the season, the playoffs. they translate to our families, our teaching, our learning, our living.

A previous employer, the Professional Basketball Club, celebrates a playoff berth today. You know them as the Oklahoma  City Thunder. I spent a glorious, fun-filled, pressure packed year getting to know real people, men and women, and traveling  a wonderful country. (in style, I might add.) My regrets are in no way attached to  the ‘doing’ required  of that season. So like a fan, I watch the  men and women of the Thunder – their fans, too – celebrate. Now I ask them to enjoy the ride – focus less on the finish line and more on the scenery. Like we heard when we were caught staring as a kid, “Take pictures. They will last longer.”

I sent a few congratulatory emails out to my old buddies, and while they are private, I wanted to share a portion of them with you in case they help you better understand the magic of the moments we share professionally.

And with this I say, congratulations Loud City!

“I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how happy  I am for the organization that the team wrapped up a playoff spot. What a year. … Most importantly, I daily utilize the lessons I learned with you and the guys last year. Teamwork is not cliche – it requires vision, compatibility, desire and stoke. It requires people who believe in something beyond the fathom of outside interests. And it insists we bring balance and passion to our efforts as part of the whole.”

“I just wanted to say how happy i am for you and for your family (basketball and non-) for wrapping up a playoff spot. It is not in any way a surprise to me. … I learned many wonderful lessons last season and got to know many wonderful people. … Here is something that I learned: leadership is not about compromises. It may require acceptance. It may demand difficult decisions. But when the day is over, to forge an honorable path, be it in life, leisure or labor, one must know truthfully they have collaborated with the universe, known and otherwise, and delivered their strongest, most passionate self. This means standing tall in the wake and/or face of so-called adversity. this means truly understanding the laughable nature of an overabundance of ego.  And this means a very true revelation in a dignified reward. What I am saying is, be kind enough to allow your self to celebrate the fruits of labor.”

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