MAKING YOUR FAMILY A WINNING TEAM
A successful family team works together to achieve goals. Every member has a unique role to play. Each contributes his share. Each is essential to the final outcome. But the whole–the concerted team effort–is stronger than the sum of its parts. And as a result, each family member shares in the gratifying joy of meaningful relationships, a growing sense of self-worth, & the satisfaction of fulfilled ambitions.
A good coach is the key to building a winning team. It is your spirit, your drive, your enthusiasm, & your expertise that will ultimately make the difference between success or failure.
A Team Purpose
Every team needs a purpose to keep it going. Every family needs a goal that is worth striving for. One of the Kuzma family goals is excellence; we all strive to reach the highest level that each of us is capable of attaining.
Kim wants to be the best flute player she can become. Knowing this, it is much easier for the rest of us to remain quiet & stay out of her way while she is practicing. At times, Kari has even offered to make Kim’s bed or fix her sack lunch when time is running short & Kim is preparing for a lesson.
In order to have a successful team, children must feel that they are ultimately contributing to family goals. One of our short-term family goals has been to help Mommy finish her book. The children have curtailed boisterous play outside the study door & have taken on a number of Mom’s home responsibilities. Each finished chapter is cause for a family celebration. And now the watchword is “only one chapter to go!” Just this morning as I was taking the children to school, I asked if one of them had a good thought to guide us through the day. Kim quoted something that she was learning at school, “Remember that you will never reach a higher standard than you yourself set. Then set your mark high, & step by step, even though it be by painful effort, by self-denial & sacrifice, ascend the whole length of the ladder of progress.”
The passage continues, “Let nothing hinder you. Fate has not woven its meshes about any human being so firmly that he need remain helpless & in uncertainty. Opposing circumstances should create a firm determination to overcome them. The breaking down of one barrier will give greater ability & courage to go forward. Press with determination in the right direction, & circumstances will be your helpers, not your hindrances.”–A terrific motto for us all!
A common purpose binds the family together in a cooperative working relationship that encourages them to overcome obstacles & progress toward the standard–their team goal.
A Code of Behaviour
Every successful coach establishes behavior standards for team members. A successful family must do the same. Your challenge is to help each member of the team see the relationship between his behavior & the success of the team.
It is important that you, the coach, set an example by meeting your own standards. If you want others to be self-disciplined, loyal, & cooperative, you must be this way first. You must inspire your family with the fact that winning or losing is really dependent upon each one’s willingness to reach for the goals together. Finally, it is your responsibility to discipline those who do not uphold the ideals.
The Game Plan
Planning is an essential part of a winning formula. In addition to a general plan that includes the family purpose & a code of behaviour, the family must have a game plan for each new day. A successful game plan should provide a step-by-step scheme that will help you achieve your goals without being sidetracked. Game plans should consist of bite-sized objectives–what you want to accomplish on a weekly or daily basis–& have a balance in a variety of activities, as well as an appropriate sense of timing. To be a winning team, the family must also consider what problems they are likely to encounter & provide an adequate plan of defense. For example, if Mom is late getting home from work, someone should start dinner. Or if Dad gets out early, he should phone Mom & see if there is anything she needs to have him pick up on his way home.
Communicating the Game Plan
Effective communication is an essential quality for a successful coach. You must know what to say & when to say it. Your goals for the team, your winning strategies, your standards, even your expertise & enthusiasm, won’t make a winning team if you fail to communicate these things.
Coaches plan a variety of team meetings to get their message across to their players & listen to the players’ feedback. They hold weekly rallies to encourage the team, they give pep talks, they ask the players to evaluate the team’s progress & make suggestions, & they develop long-range plans. Then, before the team hits the field, they hold chalk talks to plan strategies for specific games or solve specific problems. Once the play begins, the communication does not cease; rather, it increases in the form of a huddle. Huddles are called whenever necessary in order to make immediate plans or give the necessary encouragement that may ultimately make the difference between winning or losing.
Winning family teams need this same form of communication. You will be a more successful family leader if you plan (or encourage your family to help plan) a weekly family rally, a daily chalk talk, & family huddles whenever needed.
Here are some ideas for making team meetings more attractive to your family.
- Make the meetings so interesting, informative, warm, & enjoyable that everyone will want to join the fun.
- Ask each person to put suggestions for a rally or chalk talk in a suggestion box, and use them.
- Make sure each person feels that his contributions are important to the family.
- Plan something special that everyone enjoys.
- Serve a special treat at a family rally.
- Vote on decisions.
- Make sure that everyone has a chance to express himself.
- When the children are old enough, have them take turns leading a session.
Establish and Maintain Team Spirit
Everyone is important, but the team comes first. Superstars seldom make it to the top by themselves. In team sports, the outstanding player owes much of his success to the support of his teammates, just as every individual owes much of his success to his family.
The superstar of a family might be a parent who is a famous scientist, or an outstanding musician, or president of a company. It may be a child who is a born athlete or intellectually gifted. If these individuals overshadow other family members or receive attention & recognition at the others’ expense, there will be a breakdown in family morale. Each superstar must learn to accept recognition & praise graciously, & honestly credit the family when credit is due.
Children who are not superstars sometimes feel neglected, worthless, & unloved because they do not receive the attention that another is receiving. The family cannot always prevent this if the attention comes from outsiders. But within the family they can make sure that all of their children receive recognition for their skills & abilities, even if the outside World has not crowned that child with superstar status. Each team member should be challenged to do his best.
Everyone is needed. It is not much fun to play on a team when you don’t feel needed. Parents sometimes err when they try to be so self-sufficient that their children come to believe that their contributions to the family are really not worth very much. So make sure each of your children feels really needed & useful to the family & to you!