One of my favorite books was a gift from a friend of mine called “The Boys In The Boat”. It’s the story of the 1936 US Men’s Olympic Rowing team that earned a berth in the Summer Olympics in Berlin and went on to win a gold medal. The key theme and learning for me were just how hard it is for individuals to truly come together and achieve something great. Here are a couple of nuggets of wisdom:

• In a team or group effort, individuals may possess all of the raw talent, skill, stamina, intellect, and emotional strength necessary to complete the task at hand. None of that will matter if not combined with the unique and most improbable trait: an ability to disregard individual ambitions, intentionally ignore and “throw his ego over the side and to pull, not just for himself, but the other boys in the boat”.

• Being dependent on the efforts of other people, trusting them is extremely difficult. This is especially true for many of our entrepreneurs- letting go of the fierce independence and individuality that got you where you are, must give way to complete and total trust in the group in order to make victory possible.

• Great leaders are like great Coxswains. They are capable of exerting both physical and psychological control over everything that happens in the boat. They know their oarsmen inside and out, their strengths and vulnerabilities. They have the force of character to inspire exhausted oarsmen to dig deeper and try harder even when all appears is lost.

• An eloquent description of the team effort- “the perfectly synchronized flow of muscle, oars, boat, and water; the single, whole, unified, and beautiful symphony that a crew in motion becomes- is all that matters. Not the individual, not the self.

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