Recently, I shared a letter written by Brad Stevens, head coach of the Boston Celtics, to his 9 year-old daughter. You can find the original letter HERE but I also wanted to share the full letter here on the blog. As our kids have gotten older, we’ve talked about this with them a lot, what it means to be a good teammate. We have pointed out professional athletes who, after a victory, talk about “our” win and “our” hard work. We’ve talked about the difference between athletes like that, and the ones who will only talk about themselves, and what they did to win the game.
Because, let’s be honest, life is a team sport. We are all part of many teams throughout our lives, and, as Brad says in his letter, “When you get older, you’ll realize that it wasn’t about the good or bad times, it was about who you navigated those times with, the lessons that you learned and the relationships that you forged.” No matter your age, if we all focused on being a great teammate, what a world that would be!
When I was asked to write you a letter for the Leaders and Daughters Event series, I thought of the many different things that I would love say to express what you mean to me, and how excited I am to have a front row seat in your journey through life. After tearing through my first few drafts (which were long rambles), I realized that writing a “life advice” letter to a 9-year old is quite a task. Therefore, I tried to boil my advice down to one of the most important choices anyone can make:
Be a Great Teammate.
You’ll be on many teams throughout your life. Your family is a team. Your theatre group is a team. Your choir is a team. You’ll compete with your soccer teammates, and try to play a harmonious tune with your orchestra. The thoughts below apply to all of these scenarios.
Great teammates always put others first – they are true servants. These qualities come easy for you. You have a genuine compassion for people, and that compassion is contagious. Life won’t be perfect, so there will be times where this will be tested. Take the advice that my mom used to tell me – “you will never regret choosing to be kind.” Great teammates take that high road.
Great teammates raise the energy in the room. They smile a lot. They show gratitude. People know that when they walk in, they have others’ best interest in mind, and want to bring out the best in each and every person. Who doesn’t want to surround themselves with energy raisers?
Great teammates listen and are empathetic. They put themselves in others’ shoes. They are inclusive and bring the group together, rather than judgmental to try to tear the group apart. Their own goals and dreams are important, but those take a backseat to the greater good. Great teammates realize that it’s not about them.
When times are good, be the great teammate that others want to celebrate with. When times are tough, be the great teammate who offers a shoulder to be leaned on. When you get older, you’ll realize that it wasn’t about the good or bad times, it was about who you navigated those times with, the lessons that you learned and the relationships that you forged. We are so thankful to be on your team. You and your brother inspire us every day.