My current topic of interest : EGO and human performance.
When I talk to coaches in professional sport, a recurrent theme I get is: “the big EGOs of some players/coaches/doctors are holding our performance back”.
I believe this is not true. I myself would not want to work in a team without big egos. This would be an unsuccessful team. The inherent thing of big egos is the drive to come out on top. Egos want to win. High performance is about winning and winning only.
Now let me qualify that statement of “High Performance is about winning, and winning only”. Winning means winning not in the sense of winning a single game, but rather being successful at the meta-game. The set of all possible games.
I love Jordan Petersons way of looking at that. Life (and Sport) is not a SINGLE game. It is a SET OF GAMES. A meta-game. The goal is not to win a single game or be good at a single game while sacrificing all the others. The goal is to win the set of all possible games. The meta-game. And to win the set of all possible games the first thing one needs to achieve is being able to keep playing the game. To keep playing the games you need people who are willing to play with you. And for that you need to be a good sport. Winning a single game is worthless if you did it in a way that leads to people not wanting to play with you anymore.
The inherent drive to come out on top and being successful at the meta-game, is a quality in people that is necessary to being a successful sports team. Is that the same as ego? Is ego something completely different? Maybe. Maybe not. It is semantics and a 500 word article is not going to bridge that gap for us. The point I am trying to make here is that elbows and rough words are nothing to shy away from. We need rough patches and confrontation to grow as individuals and as a team. We should not shy away from dissonance in the constant search for harmony. Harmony is a comforting drug. But comfort is not growth.
One thing I always tell the staff I work with is : “Our success as a team is measured by how long we stay at the table/bar together AFTER the last game of the season.” We do not need harmony during the season. We want growth. Dissonance is okay, if it is governed by TRUST.
A team that forces harmony (comfort) instead of seeking progress (growth) DURING the season will have a terrible time at the party after the season. Winning (or being successful) is the best teambuilding activity. To be successful I want egos that challenge me and I want to be able to challenge them. It’s not about egos. It is about trust. The best teams are a set of BIG egos that trust their lives to each other.
May the FLOW be with you all brothers and sisters!
Gerrit Keferstein is a Medical Doctor specialised in Performance & Functional Medicine. He is most known for his work on the optimisation of recovery and adaptation in elite athletes.