Earlier this month, I travelled with soccer players from the Vancouver Street Soccer League to Alert Bay to compete in the Aboriginal soccer tournament called June Sports. To read more about this tournament, you can check out this excellent article in the Guardian newspaper. After a 5:30 AM wake up call two ferry rides, five hours of driving , we arrived in the tiny hamlet on remote Cormorant Island. Over the next three days, our men and women’s squads played half a dozen games against all sorts of high performance teams. June Sports taught me a bunch of professional lessons both on and off the field. Here are a few of the most notable lessons:

Stay positive, no matter what the setback

Attitude just can’t be emphasized enough. Our men’s team played two challenging and skilled teams. The first eventually won the tournament and beat us 5-0. It would have been easy to get frustrated (and angry). We didn’t. Throughout both games, despite plenty of slide-tackles (mainly against us), high emotions and competition fostered by the tournament’s double knockout format, the VSSL team stayed calm, in-control and generally positive. Our attitude was noticed – both by the teams we faced and the tournament organizers. We won best sportsmanship award and were honoured in front of the entire community. At work, it can be easy to get down and start accusing others rather than channeling your energy constructively. Ultimately, remember that the only thing you can control is your attitude.

Think as a team

Driving home, our game plan was to catch the 9:30 PM ferry from Nanaimo at least that was the game plan as our five little cars convoyed down island. But just as we were within striking distance of Nanaimo at 5:30, our car thought we might be able to make it on an earlier ferry. Without consulting the larger group, we sent out texts calling for all the other cars to put the pedal to the medal and aim for the 6:30 sailing.  Turned out not everyone was so close – one car was still pulling out of Courtney, over an hour and a half away! The change of plans without clear communication and a specific rationale created confusion and was totally un-cooperative. Woops! Instead, consider connecting with all key stakeholders to canvass for collective input, possible challenges (along with your perceived opportunities) and then come to a collaborative decision.

Communicate on and off the field

Talking the whole time is a very important feature of any team-play. Letting fellow players know where you are, where you are going and what to watch out for was key to our game play and it was also important for our success off the field. Whether it was ensuring meals were prepped on time, camping gear was returned or transportation to and from the campsite was arranged for everyone, clear and frequent communication was key. Same goes for in the workplace. Communicating your intentions, questions and solutions to problems you face to colleagues, staff and your boss(es) is a key part of everyone’s collective success.


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