Loyalty is the heart and soul of any meaningful relationship. A sports team provides the perfect platform for loyalty. Giving of one’s self to others is the foundation of loyalty. Many of our greatest experiences in life can be found in our relationships. At its core, loyalty is about reliability. And in the team setting reliability is a necessary ingredient for success.

Loyalty is found in the physical, intellectual, emotional, and social support we provide others. It is the bond of loyalty players have to teammates that forges a coherent team. It is players willingly committing to each other and going out of their way to ensure someone else’s needs are met.

However, getting along with others doesn’t mean the obligation to endure wrongful actions.

The Blame Game
Nothing destroys a relationship faster than blame. When you shift fault to another you cast yourself as a victim. In the court of victimhood what you want is the other person to be wrong and you to be right. No doubt, you feel you have real justification in your specific situation.

When you wrongfully blame others, you lose the right to loyalty. You’ve sacrificed a relationship to “save face,” to “look good,” or to simply hide a weakness. This is not loyalty. It is betrayal.

Let me state it plainly: Playing the blame game is wrong. Blame fuels conflict. It feeds the fire of dissension. It divides people. It can—and will—destroy your team. The blame game makes a mockery of loyalty. Blame is an act of selfishness.

Funny thing, most people that blame others look for at least one other person to align with them, to be an accomplice in the blame game? When a team member complains about what someone else “did to me” (such as a coach not giving you enough playing time), do others look to eagerly rush in and agree with the victim? Should one “cover” another’s back in the name of false victim-hood? After all, “she’s my friend and that’s what friends do for one another.”

These are not real friends. A real friend would say, “Cut the blame game and quit complaining about what “they” did to you. What did you do? What can you do to fix it?” Now that’s a loyal friend. This kind of honesty is what a loyal friend would do.

You need to be honest and direct, willing to confront teammates that violate team norms. Say what you need to say in a manner that shows your intent to solve the problem. Your objective is not to fight, but rather to make a positive impact toward a positive resolution. Your goal shouldn’t be to prove someone wrong, or to make you look good. Rather, your solution should be to cooperate and work toward a common purpose.

If you find yourself playing the blame game, understand that you are limiting your growth psychologically and relationally. Every time you choose to blame someone for a setback or for something negative that’s happened to you, you miss the opportunity to learn how to overcome adversity.

Confidence in one’s teammates is what makes for a tight-knit team. A team of loyal teammates offers a clear way to win. So when blame rears its ugly head, look instead for the courage to build up the moral muscles necessary for growing your commitment to others. Pledge to remain loyal and do the right thing.

And, a second short article from Dr. Dobbs

The Problem with Listening

In their classic Harvard Business Review article Listening to People, Ralph Nichols and Leonard Stevens get right to the point: “It can be stated, with practically no qualification, that people in general do not know how to listen.” Larry Barker and Kittie Watson in Listen Up declare, “Each of us has the power to decide how and when to listen.” Management expert Margaret Wheatley asserts, “I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again.” William Isaacs, MIT professor and senior lecturer in the MIT Leadership Center, reminds us that, “Listening requires we not only hear words, but also embrace, accept, and gradually let go of our own inner clamoring. As we explore it, we discover that listening is an expansive activity.”

Why do so few people listen to hear?
Think about it: The listener controls the conversation. Here’s a helpful exercise: Write down the many ways in which the listener controls a conversation. I think you’ll be surprised!

Cory Dobbs, Ed.D.
The Academy for Sport Leadership

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