I am often asked, “What is the key to the Prime Programs’ success?” Before I answer this question, I usually find myself asking a question of my own: “What is your definition of success?”
Success is simply achieving a desired goal. Success itself is defined as “the desired outcome of an attempt”. The original Pr1me team was first started as a competitive D3 team with very specific goals in mind. We wanted to create a competitive team regionally and work our way up to become a competitive national team. But we also had very specific ideals attached to these goals. We wanted to create a team that wasn’t built on superstars but on the theory that a grassroots southeastern team could compete and do so through rigorous training, commitment, a private facility and, most importantly honor. Finding that mix of team players with the right attitudes, talent, learning potential and the same goals/views wasn’t easy.
It’s almost like Clint Eastwood’s character in the film, “Unforgiven”. At the end of the film where he has dispatched the main antagonist (played by Gene Hackman), Clint’s character, William Munny, is asked by a writer who did Munny shoot first. He responds by saying, “I was lucky in the draw but then I’ve always been lucky when it comes to killing people.”
It was kinda like that… kinda...except without the killing part. . Ok… not really.
Keeping your team together actually depends on each individual’s success. No, that was not an oxymoron. Think about it for a sec and bear with me.
Of course, having talented people on your team is essential but that “talent” could be for learning quickly or motivating or leading. We believe that a team that learns together and drives each other is more productive that one or two superstars. As long as the team is focused on the same goal and understands the parameters created by the environment in which they operate, there should be no issues. If everyone is motivated to be the best they can be and bring that to the team… selflessness…. Well, that is the key. Good leadership can do that, too. I would submit that good leadership, being an example, showing selflessness, is absolutely necessary for a team to survive. A lack of this will create ill-will. So right there, we have touched on three different aspects… attitudes, environement and leadership. Seems obvious that they would all be necessary, right?
Here’s what I suggest. Recruit likeminded people. It doesn’t matter if they are the next Marcello Margott or Disney’s Goofy (well, maybe if they were Goofy… but imagine the resources!). What matters is that they have the same goals, drives, dreams and similar attitude you do. It can be very tempting to lower your standards in order to get that superstar player… but if you do that, you have already compromised your team. If the guy plays out of his mind but has a toxic personality, you may not have a team very long. Recruit people who understand what it means to be a team and want to be a part of that team, who don’t have to have the spotlight, who want what is best for the team and who want to learn as a team.
Personality types can be a difficult variable in creating and maintaining a team much less a successful one. But it should be a priority.
Next, I would establish a very specific set of goals for the team to work towards as well as each individual. Our first year as a team, our goals were to win the CFOA Xball series and become a competitive team by World Cup. We won the series and made Sunday at World Cup that year. We did this because everyone had likeminded goals and were moving in the same direction, as a unit, together. We recognized what we needed to work on in order to reach those goals. That combination of things is hard to beat. Challenge each other but do so with encouragement and leave the negativity out. Always remember the goals. We eventually began setting individual goals. We haven’t been too fervent on this but it is becoming more apparent that it helps. I would show up at the field during week days and doing nothing but laning and run and gun drills. Yes, I would have preferred to be doing something else than driving to the field after a long day of work but that’s what it takes.
And above all things: Communicate man! Communicate every chance you get. If people are afraid or concerned about expressing their opinions, they will internalize it and/or share with those that they do trust (everyone but who they have the problem with) and then next thing you know, BAM!... things start falling apart. You have to be honest. If you have an issue, voice it. Create an environment where it is not only allowed to voice an opinion or thought or concern but encouraged. If you hold this stuff back, it doesn’t go away and it festers until no solution will fix it.
Finally, and we have talked about this before, create a “culture” that shows appreciation for the team and the individual. Encouragement and rewards can work wonders. I read somewhere that a leader who understands and appreciates his team as a whole, as an entity, creates an environment where every member of that team wins. Sounds cool.
Remember, talent does not always mean success. I would argue that, more often than not, collaboration among likeminded people with a common goal leads to success more often. The dynamics of a team are incredibly important to its success.
There is no magic formula that makes a Dynasty or Ironmen. But I guarantee that they have all used aspects printed above. Have the right vision and goals, don’t compromise, and you will see more success than not.
Thanks to Paintballphotography.com’s Ian Whitaker and “Stretch” from 1904Photography for the photos!