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Alignment Beats Talent When Talent Isn’t Aligned

The legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, had a famous quote, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” This quote tells me that a team with a lesser collection of talent can compete with and win if they work hard and believe themselves.

I thought of this as my son was watching the movie Miracle about the 1980 USA Olympic Men’s Hockey team that beat the Soviet Union in the semifinals on the way to the gold medal. That USA team, filled with a group of college kids and non-professionals went up against a team of professional men who were the best in the world. In exhibition games, the USA got crushed by the Soviets.

However, this USA hockey team demonstrated exactly what alignment to mission and vision can do for a team, even facing incredible odds against them.

Coach Herb Brooks took a group aligned to their home states of Minnesota and Massachusetts, through a lot of turbulence, and turned them into a tribe of US hockey players and then a team that was connected to his vision for them. The team bought into each other, the coach and what they were capable of, which was good enough to beat the Soviets. They were aligned to the singular goal of being the best they could be. They didn’t align until the Olympics, but when they had it, they coupled it with a nation fully behind them and made everyone believe in Miracles.

So, when you, as a leader, aren’t sure you have the best talent available, remember you can do great things with the talent around you. Lead them to be connected to your ‘why’. Lead them to believe in and trust one another. Lead them to be convinced they are more than they thought they could be.

Do you believe in Miracles?

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