By Kevin Eastman (former College and NBA Coach)
Two words that never seem to go together or work together: selfishness and winning. On the other hand, when we study the key characteristics of winning organizations we find that unselfishness is of paramount importance. It’s a necessary ingredient that enhances other aspects of success in a team endeavor.
So why is unselfishness so important? What does it do to teams? It has been my experience with the Boston Celtics and the Los Angles Clippers (and in particular, as a coach in our 2008 NBA World Championship run) that unselfishness itself was extremely important for us, but the unselfish attitude created additional advantages for us that were also key to our success.
Some of those by-products of an unselfish approach:
• The spirit of our team was much greater
• The intensity of our play was increased
• The willingness to move the ball created easier, high percentage shots for us
• It helped us plug holes in our defense; we covered for each other
• It created frustration in our opponents, as the power of the pass can never be underestimated
• It kept us juiced up for the next game (which is very important when you’re playing over 100 games in an NBA season); our guys wanted to come to work
• It gave us confidence that we could survive a player’s off night because the ball always found the open player (and therefore, the high percentage shot)
• It allowed us the feeling that one guy never had to carry the burden
• It gave us a sense that we could not be beaten because opponents had to beat all of us together — not just one superstar on his own
• Most of all, it made us want to be out there on the floor every night, knowing it was truly us against the opponent. We knew our backs were covered every minute of every game. We knew if we absorbed ourselves in the team that we would have a chance to succeed at the highest level!
Is unselfishness important? YES. It is proven year after year if you study championship teams in all sports. Unselfishness is important enough that it is part of the DNA of every champion!