Accomplishing the most good requires your sacrifice

I love March Madness. The drama, the athletic feats, the emotion, the stories of how the teams got there--altogether it makes for wonderful entertainment! Common sacrifice is one of my favorite aspects, with teammates coming together and serving one another after training hard all year. The team’s collective willingness to make the extra pass, fill a defensive hole, dive for a loose ball, or take a charge is often the difference between winning and losing. Shots might get the glory but we’ve all heard the saying, “defense wins championships.” And defense is about sacrifice.

When we sacrifice for one another, we all win. When we look to win by ourselves, we all lose. This is true in our marriages, families, and workplaces. If I am focused on serving you and you are focused on serving me, our interests have become aligned. But if I focus on serving myself and you focus on serving yourself, we have competing interests and we are set up to lose. Experientially we know this to be true, but instinctually we are much more easily drawn to “me before we!”

If we want our teams and organizations to accomplish the most good, we need all our players to serve one another. As leaders, that begins with us. If the best player on the basketball team embraces and celebrates a change, culture begins to shift for the whole team. If you - as the owner, executive, or manager - are willing to sacrifice, you will cultivate a culture of mutual sacrifice in your organization. But if you are hoping that others will sacrifice and you won’t have to, don’t expect the bar to move. Like laughter, some things can’t be faked and the result is awkward for everyone.

So how do we create a culture of mutual sacrifice?

First, confess that sacrifice is hard and there’s a part of you that doesn’t want to. This acknowledgement is honest and it protects against faux sacrifice, reminding you that this is something you are going to have to work at. The allure of being taken care of instead of caring for others is intoxicating and it’s something we always have to guard against. If we are naturally good at anything, it’s preferring ease and comfort!

Second, you must intentionally sacrifice for the good of your team and customer, not just by talking about it but by BEING about it. One practical way to sacrifice for your team is using your influence for their good. Are you willing to go up the ladder and put your reputation on the line to get additional resources or make a change for the good of your team? Maybe you are willing to engage the angry or difficult customer rather than keep the situation at arm’s length. You will know it’s sacrificial because your action will create a sense of vulnerability within you.

Accomplishing the most good requires your sacrifice, and it will create a multiplier effect throughout your whole organization. Soon everyone will be diving for loose balls and taking the charge because by looking out for one another and the customer, we can thrive together.


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