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Find Your Spirit Animal

by Tyler Kinley

I like to imagine a team's culture as its spirit animal. 

Furious would be a rabid dog: Fierce, foaming at the mouth, and angry. 

Revolver would be a cobra: Patient, calculating, and deadly. 

Chain is like a big gorilla: Powerful, intimidating, and brutish. 

Sockeye is like a monkey: Playful, goofy, throwing its own feces, yet strong. 

Okay, Tyler. What in the hell are you talking about. 

Well, think about it this way. Imagine if the monkey tried to be the rabid dog. Instead of being goofy, he foamed at the mouth, acted incredibly fierce, and was super aggressive... well, he would get killed. It wouldn't work. It's simply not him

Similarly, Sockeye did best last year when we were goofy, played with smiles and positivity, and failed when we got angry at each other or our opponents. On the contrary, Furious was best when they were angry and fierce, thriving in that team culture. 

So, how do you recognize what your spirit animal is? Well, reflect on your season thus far, as well as last season. Remember the games you won? What would you characterize the vibe as? What about when you lost? Nurture, then, the characteristics and habits of your successful moments. 

But what does nurture mean in practice, and how? I like to use warmups/1st drills before practices and games as a means to set the tone. On Sockeye, where the joy of playing was valued over extreme intensity, we started practices and games with small-sided games that everyone enjoyed. It set a tone of enjoyable competition. On Furious, I'd instead have a serious huddle talk begin the day with high expectations, goals, and a series of drills where winning was rewarded and losing was punished. 

Finally, every culture has strengths and weaknesses. The monkey lacks the intensity of the rabid dog, the cobra lacks the playfulness of the monkey, the gorilla lacks the cunning of the snake. Your goal is not to find the perfect spirit animal and apply it to your team-- there isn't one, and you can't be something you're not. Your goal is to recognize that one that creates the most success for your team, and nurture and engrain those habits. 

huddle issue032

Thu March 31st, 2011

Us vs. Them
by Tully Beatty

Find Your Spirit Animal
by Tyler Kinley

by John Korber

Nurture What You Like, Overcome What You Don't
by Peri Kurshan

Team Identity
by Ali Lenon

Self-Sustaining Team Culture
by Matt Mackey

Key Team Culture Moments
by John Sandahl

Work Together
by Charlie Reznikoff

It Will Change Every Season
by Miranda Roth




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