The Toronto Blue Jays had one of the most impressive off-seasons of recent history in 2012/13 acquiring some considerable talent to join their team. They became the Vegas favorites to win the World Series and everything was looking up for the Blue Jays - that's, of course, until the on-field play actually began.
The Blue Jays have been playing all-around inconsistent baseball and have dug themselves a deep hole in their competitive division. Things are not looking good for the Blue Jays this year. We find ourselves already uttering, ‘well, they have the core talent locked up for 3 years. Perhaps they’ll be a contender next year.’ Well, I fear there is something deeper going on.
So, what’s wrong with the Blue Jays? Are they just not as good on field as they are on paper? Have injuries taken their toll? Is this mysterious thing called team chemistry not quite clicking?
Here’s a perspective: purpose. They lack a collective purpose that unifies them, binds them together and allows them to accomplish something greater than any one individual. When a group of people lack purpose, they start caring more about themselves than each other and the collective success of the group.
It was inspiring watching the World Baseball Classic (WBC) this year and in particular the Dominican Republic team. The WBC is an international baseball tournament founded in 2005. The tournament occurs every 3 or 4 years in the spring before the Major League Baseball season begins. It truly is a World Series, gathering players to represent their home countries in a short 2-3 week tournament.
We can use the Dominican team at the WBC as a remarkable example of what’s possible when a team has purpose. Sure, the stakes were higher in an intensified tournament. Nonetheless, we can learn from their success and create similar conditions for other groups.
As we watched the Dominican team make a run at the championship, which they eventually won, we witnessed their passion on the field, in the bench and in the stands from their fans. Passion is a result. We say that passion is a prerequisite to becoming successful. That’s bogus! Passion is an output. Passion is what results when we are contributing towards something that matters to us and are doing it in a way that aligns with our strengths. Passion is an output, not an input.
The Dominicans were having fun. They were playing united by their country of origin. They felt that they belonged to something, trusted each other and were playing for something greater than themselves. This is what made them successful. The players cared far less about their individual performance, how good they looked, or what they were being paid. They each wanted to make a contribution towards the team’s collective success, even if it meant making a personal sacrifice for the common good. They were not playing for themselves - they were in it for each other and they were playing for their country. They had a Why - a belief that unified them so that they could accomplish something extraordinary.
We ask, what’s a team, culture, a community, or a country? It’s a group of people with a common set of values and beliefs. The same could hold true for the Toronto Blue Jays.
It is not until a group of people come together to make a contribution towards something bigger than themselves that they will accomplish anything extraordinary. They will bicker and argue external factors like an umpires call; they will do it not for the collective, they do it for themselves - to look good and to look right. When we are part of a high performing team, we care more about each other than we do about ourselves. We won’t argue a strike call against an umpire. We will say to our teammate, “Edwin, I messed up. Pick me up and win this for the team!”
Stay inspired - inspire others!
Side note: Jose Bautista is from the Dominican Republic though did not take part in the 2013 WBC due to injury precaution.