Do you surround yourself with people who love to be where they are, be it work or play? I do and I strive to find that spark in people because they are the ones who move the ball down the field, show up early to help set up a fundraiser, take on a new project to advance a cause, etc. I felt compelled to write this post after reading Steve Job’s biography, watching my son’s and daughter’s AYSO soccer games, and working with my fellow parents to put on a successful school fundraiser last night. What they all have in common is the concept of A+ players.
Walter Isaacson, the author of the Steve Jobs biography I read, quotes Jobs as saying, “I’ve learned over the years that, when you have really good people, you don’t have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things. The original Mac team taught me that A-plus players like to work together, and they don’t like it if you tolerate B-grade work.”
A senior vice president at Apple stated, “I noticed that the dynamic range between what an average person could accomplish and what the best person could accomplish was 50 or 100 to 1. A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”
Take a minute and look at the people around you. Are they A plus players? Or are they B and C-players? A-players are motivated, engaged and creative. They are performance-driven and have high expectations for themselves and for others. B and C-players, on the other hand, often do just enough to get by and to be paid for it.
Over the years while working in organizations, start ups, agencies and for myself, I have seen the concept of “Playing on the A+ Team” come into sharper focus. My friend Sandra and I used to help run a small PR agency in San Jose in 1993. We would always joke that “a whole hell of alot of work gets done in this very small office”. We were driven to do high level work with very little supervision and a lot of expectations by our boss. She pushed us every day and it was exciting. I loved working with women who loved to work-we accomplished great feats like the opening of the San Jose Arena. Years later I worked at a few organizations where people were doing their time to get to 5 pm each day. Consequently, I saw very talented folks leave these companies because the boss tolerated B and C players who just were there to do their time.
In 2010, I worked with extremely intelligent leaders at a start up in Mountain View, CA. The team members beamed with excitement whenever they were all together working on a strategy for the company. The owner of the company would be scribbling away on the white board while we all figured out what our part was in making the goal come together. It was hard work and my 46 year old brain hurt from working with people in their 30’s, but being around those A+ players made it a joy to show up every day and see what would happen next.
There are kids, including my son, who walk onto our local soccer field as A+ players, too. They love doing the best they can each moment they play that game. They are all on high alert for where the ball is at all times, how they can think of where the ball is going to be so they meet it and they play with such enthusiasm, that even when they lose sometimes, it was a pleasure to watch them perform. They all come back to the sidelines grinning and pointing out good plays made by the other players.
Conversely, I was watching my daughter’s soccer game. There were girls playing that were clearly afraid of getting hit by the ball. Or they were tired and hot and really not very enthusiastic about playing. The A-Listers could not play the game effectively because a few of the team members were not even paying attention to the game while it was going on. This showed that you can be the best on your team, but if you have people not getting in line behind you, or even being within kicking distance, it’s almost impossible to win the game on your own. The same goes for life and business, right?
Kona Pacific Halloween Journey
I found the A+ example play out with planning the Halloween Journey, a fundraiser for 650 people at our school this month. Our school volunteers have gotten to the point where they pretty much know who the other A+ players are and we had a fantastic leader in Laurie Mattos. She asked people to join the team who had a history of being willing and able to show up with a can-do attitude. (Many of these folks also help me implement the Big Island Chocolate Festival each year, as well) Each of us were given a portion of the event to be in charge of and we ran with our creativity. Because we all have all worked together now for a few years and really enjoy putting on events, we are a well oiled team. There were the usual hiccups of an outdoor event, but we created such a magical evening for children, parents and community members who experienced it. The Halloween Journey touched a local business owner so much so that he wrote a donation check for $5000 to the school because he was blown away by the entire production.
Working with a group of A+players creates synergy. Synergy creates momentum which is usually created by passionate people who are usually A+ players. Rewards usually follow.
I recently asked my friends on Facebook if the “spark” that A+ players possess is something people are born with or can be instilled in a child or found when you are older. The responses were across the board, meaning that passion, enthusiasm, grit, determination, and working hard towards a goal can come at any age.
I choose my clients based on the traits of an A+ player because I love to be inspired to work hard and be part of something bigger than myself when I find the right people who have created businesses based on their passion. I like to choose my friends this way, as well.
I encourage you to be that person who others want on their A+ team-the rewards are worth your passionately enthusiastic work!