The One Thing More Important Than Performance

performance trust graph 1 navy seal skill performance simon sinek

The quality of your softball team depends on your talent. Or does it?

Learn how talent might not be the most important thing to your team’s success.

No matter what level of team you coach, you’re always on the lookout for talent. You know what great talent looks like. You know if a runner’s fast, a pitcher’s really good and a hitter has power. But, what if I told you there’s something even more important than talent – something that will impact your team far more than talent, and determine how well your team does this season.

Talent, which leads to performance, is what we crave as coaches. After all, we’re in the success business which means we need as much talent as we can get, and we need that talent to perform at its best.

performance trust graph 1 navy seal skill performance simon sinek

I recently heard Simon Sinek, a motivational speaker and leadership expert talk about the qualities that are most important to becoming a Navy SEAL. As an organization, the SEALs are truly the best of the best, among the most respected group of people on the planet where performing well really is a matter of life and death.

When looking at recruits, the SEALs look at two qualities that are vital to having what it takes to become a Navy SEAL. They look at Performance and Trust as two lines on a graph. (Graph 1 to the right.)

performance trust graph 4 navy seal skill performance ideal

Ideally, the SEALs want a person who is high in Skill/Performance and equally high in Trust like in below in Graph 4.

This sounds obvious, and almost too elementary to even talk about. The problem is we rarely come across a person like this – one who is outstanding in both their talent and their character.

performance trust graph 2 navy seal skill performance jerk

We love the player with talent. The one with the 65 mph rise ball, or the one who hits 250 ft bombs, or runs home to first in 1.7 seconds.

As a college coach, I sit for hours at ballparks watching hundreds of ballplayers, looking for talent. And yet, talent without trust is a selfish jerk (Graph 2). They’re the person who is great on the field and horrible in the clubhouse. Because they’re selfish, they’re a horrible teammate and they’ll ruin any team. The Navy SEALs know this type of person is toxic so that they don’t accept them into their ranks.

performance trust graph 2 navy seal skill performance team leader

On the other hand, the SEALs are likely to select a person who is low in skill if they’re high in Trust. This is the person on your team who might not play very much but that the whole team looks to, respects, and is a team leader.

What struck me about this concept is that it make so much sense, and yet, what does trust look like? When I’m sitting there watching inning after inning, how do I recognize the player with high Trust, because I’m used to looking for high Performance.

My challenge to you – start thinking about what Trust looks like by noticing what trust-worthy people do. Watch how trust-worthy people respect others, how they take care of the people on either side of them, and how they respect their elders.

If we could identify what Trust looks like we could recruit more of it, play with more of it and in the end have more successful teams because of it.

For help with finding the right players for your team, and creating a positive team culture:

Comments 2
  1. Cindy,
    I agree. Trust also comes from the coach. One of the best examples I think about is when Coach Murphy pinch hit for his senior lead off hitter with bases loaded for a freshman in the College World Series. We all know how that worked out.. Talk about trust.

  2. Great! In my day job with school kids, I continually discuss the concept of trust. I tell them trust is THE building block of love (and virtually everything else, with only a couple of possibilities exempt. Thanks for hitting on something I’ve thought about for years. I employ it in our sport as well.

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