Team Success and the 4 C's

I’ve worked on numerous teams throughout my career in sales/fundraising; for small and large companies in the USA, Serbia and Sweden. During that time, there were a few that thoroughly exemplified the 4 C’s – Confidence, Competence, Commitment and Caring.

In my opinion, those aforementioned elements are crucial for any team to succeed at the highest level. Two teams (let’s call them X and Y) were the most impressive.

Confidence – To be effective in any endeavour requires confidence. Teams X and Y had confidence to spare.

Competence – The time spent with these teams was wonderful in terms of results and the overall competence played a big role in our success. That knowledge along with the ability to use it to achieve challenging goals inspired me on numerous occasions!

Commitment – One can be confident and competent yet lack the commitment it takes to succeed in a competitive business world. I didn’t see any evidence of a team member not being 100% committed to our goals.

Caring – Last but not least is the caring aspect of teams X and Y. Numerous team members spent time with me during my first year to make sure I understood the industry which gave me great insight on how to succeed. They also were gracious with their feedback when I peppered them with questions.

In addition, I didn’t see or hear about any jealous acts or insincere commentary which was refreshing. I also like the fact that we tended to tease or make fun of each other occasionally which I consider the sign of a caring team. Some of my best laughing moments have been with these teams!

The importance of caring should not be overlooked in business or life and separates these teams from others I have worked with. With some, there were those who only cared about themselves or weren’t as committed to our goals. While these individuals may have had personal success, the team’s ability to perform at the highest level was compromised.

I had an interesting, challenging, fun and successful time with teams X and Y and much of that emanated from the 4 C’s. Life has been good to me and I enjoyed most of the teams I’ve worked with although these two were special.

Here’s hoping your team possesses the 4 C’s – Confidence, Competence, Commitment and Caring.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

A man's fire of wood on the beach in southern Sweden

"IF" - The Kipling Poem

During an enlightening conversation with a  professor, a poem by Rudyard Kipling came up. I hadn't thought about the poem in quite some time so I was anxious to read it again. Immediately after I left his office, I read it slowly and absorbed its power and eloquence.

It gave me a tremendous boost of inspiration that afternoon!

You will find the poem below in its entirety.

Happy Gswede Sunday!


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings -- nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run --
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!


Venice - "IF" you have never been to Venice, Italy, it's worth a visit! (picture by Bill)

An Injury didn’t Deter my Basketball Success

From the time I was 10 years old, I was usually the best basketball player on the court. The sport came easy to me and I was fortunate to have a) supportive parents and b) a man with a great basketball mind as my first coach.

Entering high school (10th grade), I was the lone sophomore on the starting five of our basketball team along with 4 talented seniors. Before I burst onto the scene, it was a certainty that the starting team would be five seniors so many of those senior players weren’t too happy with my prime position. They made it very physical and tough on me in practice which didn’t faze me as I knew my talent was at a minimum, equal to theirs. Also, one of the popular teammates (a senior) had to take a backup role due to my presence.

The often harsh treatment inspired me to deliver deft offensive moves every practice and display an astute knowledge of the game, quickly earning their respect. It was an exciting time as I knew the year would be fun and my skills would be tested at the highest level!

During an early season game, my perfect world of basketball bliss came to a screeching halt. As I was running down the court, I accidently ran into an opposing player rather forcefully. At first, I thought nothing of it although soon thereafter, my shoulder was throbbing. I had a broken collarbone.

By the time my injury healed, the season was nearly over and I never had the chance to find my rhythm. The team had smashing success without me which I was happy about, finishing with a record of 28-4. Being the best outside shooter on the team, I can only imagine what we could have achieved with me in the starting rotation.

This injury was probably the best thing to happen to me. It made me workout harder, improve my discipline and obtain a stronger focus. I made these changes in order to limit injuries along with giving me the best opportunity for a productive and stellar final two years - time that would be crucial for impressing college basketball coaches.

Fortunately, I averaged 23 points per game my junior and senior years and was injury free. In addition, I was twice named to the team of the best 15 players in my region – called “The Big 15”.

Would I have been a better player if I didn’t get injured? Who knows? What I do know is that I wasn’t going to let anything or anyone deter me from achieving the goal I had since I was young – receiving a basketball scholarship. I had worked extremely hard perfecting my skills before the injury so I considered it nothing more than a small obstacle or in car terms, a bump in the road.

I played 4 years of Division 1 College Basketball at the University of Vermont. That basketball scholarship allowed me the privilege of a free education and a wonderful university experience.

In sports or life, sometimes a curveball is thrown our way in the form of an injury or unfortunate incident yet one can’t allow these short term distractions to deter a goal or dream.

Basketball has taken me a long way in life and provided opportunities I may otherwise not have had. I’m thankful for that as well as achieving my goal despite an untimely injury.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

The University of Vermont provided great opportunties for Gswede
(Picture by Tony Friede)

A Powerful Story on Honesty

It's not often that I come across a fictional story that exemplifies honesty as well as other admirable traits.

Honesty is not always the easy route as evidenced by all the greed (i.e. Financial Crisis) displayed around the world in the last 3 years. And when nobody is watching or one is away from family/friends, honesty can occasionally take a back seat.

In addition, some people tend to shy away from honesty towards others as they fear hurting them or telling the truth. An honest opinion or comment is exactly what a person needs to hear more often than not. Sometimes, the “truth hurts”.

“Honesty is the best policy” is not only a well-known cliché but something that if adhered to, can make life much easier and success more fulfilling.

Enjoy the story below.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Fictional Story on Honesty

A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business.

Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you.”

The young executives were Shocked, but the boss continued. “I am going to give each one of you a SEED today - one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you.

I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO."

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.

Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing.

By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure.

Six months went by -- still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however, he just kept watering and fertilizing the soil - He so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection.

Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at
the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful -- in all shapes and sizes.. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives.

Jim just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown," said the CEO. "Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!"

All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, "The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!"

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed - Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, "Behold your next Chief Executive Officer!

His name is Jim!" Jim couldn't believe it. Jim couldn't even grow his seed.

"How could he be the new CEO?" the others said.

Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead - it was not possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!"

* If you plant honesty, you will reap trust

* If you plant goodness, you will reap friends

* If you plant humility, you will reap greatness

* If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment

* If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective

* If you plant hard work, you will reap success

* If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later.

The beauty of the water from a beach in Mexico (picture by Mia)