A Great Player

A lot of people, when a guy scores a lot of goals, think, ‘He’s a great player’, because a goal is very important, but a great player is a player who can do everything on the field. He can do assists, encourage his colleagues, give them confidence to go forward. It is someone who, when a team does not do well, becomes one of the leaders.” – Pelé

Further to my post yesterday, “Off the Ball,” what you do in the 75%, that is, the times in which you are not the team member who is in currently in possession of the literal or figurative ball, is much more than simply staying out of the way or not getting into trouble. The most noteworthy playmakers both on and off the field are those who make as many forward strides in the 75% as they do when they are carrying the ball forward themselves.

Having had the opportunity to attend one of Pelé’s soccer camps in my youth and having met him again subsequently in Boston a number of years later, I suppose I could claim to have brushed with soccer royalty, but in reality I don’t know much about Pelé’s character or philosophy on living. I do know, however, after having had the privilege of watching hours of games in which Pelé worked his magic in concert with some of the most remarkable soccer players of all time, that he possessed a rare talent and an uncommon vision for weaving personal brilliance into seamless and cohesive team play.

We often talk about “team players” in the business world, those employees whose individual talents are magnified by their ability to collaborate effectively with others, and I must admit that while my intent in my businesses is to build a team of “A” players, it can be challenging (but not impossible!) to find superstars who are not prima donnas. They are out there…I’ve met and have the privilege of working with a number of them!

The difference between a person playing at the top of his or her game and a prima donna is found in his or her ability to integrate meaningfully and unselfconsciously with others.

4 thoughts on “A Great Player

  1. Lady Leo

    It does translate to every other area of our lives. Even if someone was able to be the center all the time; it sounds exhausting and unbalanced. Being a part of a great team has rewards that can’t be fully understood until you commit to one.


  2. Chuck Reddick

    It must be noted that over the years those teams, be them sports teams or individual businesses, that have a prima donna as the center ultimately lose the big game. However, those that have super stars who are humble and as you say Gregg play/work the team game are part of a winning organization. In the sales organization that I have the privilege of being a part of, for example, we sort the prima donnas out early on so that our entire team is not infected with them.


  3. Joy

    I often marvel at the soccer games played by the Hispanic community in our neighborhood park, more I’d wage is learnt on such fields than in most class rooms. Boys taught by their fathers to be men, taught to be good losers, or to be good winners. Adolescents learning to be good team players, and men laughing and teasing and encouraging both young and old. Your analogy has far reaching implications, and I consider it time well spent meditating on my specific, yet ever changing role, on the ball or off the ball. Thank you for this opportunity Gregg.


  4. Steve V

    Thank you for bringing to mind what it takes to be a great player. It is good to acknowledge that great players can be made as lessons are learned. Tendencies of the prima donna can be released as action is taken to play one’s integrative part. Your words aspire greatness in us all.


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