"Great teammates don’t just impact you today; they impact you for the rest of your life"
I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all had someone in our life who we’ve admired, who’s pushed us to be better, and who we’ve even tried to emulate in some regard. Those types of people are rare, special, and when we come across them, very hard to forget.
The Hard Hat by Jon Gordon is a true story about the life of George Boiardi, a Cornell lacrosse player who tragically lost his life playing the game he loved in 2004. This profound story examines the life of a transcendent team leader and the teammate that we should all try to model. Gordon takes lessons from George’s life, his team, and their legacy. He gives the reader 21 lessons to be a great teammate, along with 21 exercises (as a leader) to help you build a great team culture.
After reading this remarkable story, you’ll understand how, more than 11 years after his passing, George is still having an incredible impact on his loved ones, Cornell lacrosse, and many, many more people across the world, including you…
Be a great teammate
"Leave the place better than you found it"
When reading this book and writing this summary, I tried very hard to think of times in my professional career that being a “good teammate” was talked about and discussed. You hear it talked about all the time in sports, but very rarely in business.
In business, we talk a lot about the culture of an organization or the culture of our team and then that discussion very quickly becomes focused on leadership and what they are doing to drive that culture. And while the role of a leader in any business is critical for success, so often we overlook the fact that people on the team have a responsibility to contribute to and to drive that culture as well.
Jon Gordon puts that very statement into perspective, stating that being a good teammate is something that one can work on, one can influence and one can become better at. And ultimately, by doing so, you will naturally position yourself as a leader through your actions and how you treat people. It’s a very simple thought but one that I find rare especially in today’s ultra-competitive business environment.
I surmised from The Hard Hat that being a good teammate can be just as influential to a team or organization as being a great leader. When it comes down to it, they are actually one in the same.
Well done is better than well said
"Some leaders lead by charisma. George led by example"
Benjamin Franklin was famously quoted for saying “well done is better than well said.” This was the quote that George lived his life by. He wasn’t the type of leader to motivate and inspire his team with his words. Instead, he inspired them through his actions, effort, and by doing things the right way.
Anyone who is striving to be a leader can learn from George. By consistently setting the example for others through your actions, people will listen to you when you do speak because you will have earned their respect by how you operate on a daily basis.
Become a “come with me” teammate
"Come with me and let’s get better"
George’s defensive coach, Ben DeLuca, said, “George was a come with me kind of leader and teammate”. He always included others in additional workouts or practice sessions outside of regular team activities and was the kind of person to make his whole team better by simply encouraging them to join him.
This is a powerful lesson, to be a great leader and a great teammate. Jon Gordon says it best in the book: “If you want to be good, focus on making yourself better. If you want to be great, focus on making yourself and your team better”.
Simply by investing extra time to help and encourage others to do something positive along with you, you’re helping to create relationships that will benefit everyone involved which will ultimately help your team and organization achieve the results that you’re seeking.
Do this enough and perhaps you can have a lasting impact like the one George had with his teammates and the Cornell lacrosse program.
The Hard Hat by Jon Gordon was an incredibly engaging, touching, and insightful read that I would recommend to anyone trying to become a better leader, teammate, coach, or parent.
George’s life tells a story that can be very easily applied to not only the sports arena but also the business world. While the principles in the book are not groundbreaking, the message is delivered along with the real-life examples through the incredible life story of George Boiardi and the unbelievable impact the Cornell lacrosse program is making by continuing to carry his legacy to the world!
I’ll leave you by asking, would your peers on your team say they consider you a great teammate? If not, what will you do to change that?