Be a Great Teammate

Jim, Beth, and Bob THANK YOU seems like a great place to start. Thanks for all your tremendous e-mails after last week’s PEOPLE SOLUTION NEWSLETTER. You were all supportive and kind considering our decision to bring the newsletter to a close on December 31, as well as with my decision to start a new chapter and retire from the work I’ve enjoyed so much through JP HORIZONS. Several of you also had a couple of important questions that I feel need to be answered. “What about BOB?” and “Is JP Horizons going to continue on?” Stick with me for a few learning takeaways, and I believe you will like the answers to those questions at the end.

Again, thank you seems the best place to begin. Thank you, Bob Coulter, for the amazing teammate you have been for almost 20 years! In the spirit of using this newsletter to introduce a possible lesson or idea to consider by sharing our personal experience, I would like to use my friend Bob as a case study to help us all consider what it takes to make a good teammate.

Be Aware! You Might Get Lucky

Bob and Jim Playing GuitarsI was looking for a great person to join the JPH TEAM and was interviewing a very qualified candidate who really could have brought a lot of expertise in business coaching. When I made an offer, she was immediately interested but not for herself. “I am not ready to make a change, but my boss might be.” That is how we were introduced to Bob Coulter. It wasn’t long before he had booked a flight from Atlanta, Georgia, to meet in our little office in Painesville, Ohio. The instant he walked through our office door, we connected and neither of us ever looked back. We talked about Springsteen, running and college sports, but most importantly, we shared our common desire to sincerely make a difference in the lives of as many people as possible. We later set a goal of “Energizing a Zillion People.” It was that goal that helped us create opportunities, overcome challenges, and make many important choices over the next couple of decades. Bob would graciously say that he was lucky to team up with us, but we know what he brought to the table those first days and every year since as he made an enormous difference in every company and individual life he touched. I guess great teammates feel fortunate for the team around them, and our mutual respect and appreciation for the other one’s talents enhanced our success as a team.

Be Willing to Laugh and Have Fun

Bob with BalloonsWOW, we have had so much fun, and there has been plenty of laughter at every turn. Generally, the jokes were at my expense but resulted in lots of laughter all the same. In the many Leadership Jams, Sales Jams, Face to Faces and company retreats, it became a regular occurrence to look to the back of the room and see Bob sitting with my wife, out of direct view of the audiences actively discussing and sometimes spontaneously critiquing what I was saying and doing on stage often accompanied by the signature Coulter slap to his forehead. Later that night at dinner in a restaurant, we would be rolling in our booth, replaying those moments and the fun we had with the audience that day. Often, we would come back into a hotel lobby still laughing and discussing the events of the day, and I believe many times our hosts or attendees seeing us might have thought we’d run up a bar tab. I assure you not a drop of alcohol was ever involved. It seems that the ultimate enjoyment of the work you do and team you are a part of comes from being willing to not take yourselves too seriously and always welcome every opportunity to laugh.

Be Wise in the Way You Offer Advice

Bob and Jim in front of the BeanOne thing about having a great team is the talent and experience you are able to draw from. Being a great teammate means having the wisdom to know when and how to offer advice. Those of you who work with Bob know he has a wonderful way of helping us find answers by asking the right questions, listening, asking some more questions, and continuing to listen until we seem to discover the answer that was always there. He may not be able to help us find answers 100 percent of the time, but because of his patience and desire to help, he has a batting average that could land him in the hall of fame.

Now on occasion over the past 2 decades, I have been the recipient of one of Bob’s world-famous reactions where hands and arms are thrown into the air followed by a vibrant falsetto voice asking, “What are you thinking?” This move has a way of stopping me in my tracks to hit rewind and get back into the mode of discovering the correct or more appropriate solution. It is always accompanied by a look on his face that says, “Just kidding, but . . . I am serious.” A great teammate comes with a lot of patience and an attitude to do whatever it takes to help.

One more thing comes to mind that Bob has taught us all, and it is key to being a great teammate as we learn to create win-win solutions and then take action to implement them. Evaluate yourself for a moment; did you propose a win-win solution to anyone today, yesterday, this week? It is amazing as we become aware of this how many times we can recognize the power of practicing a win-win approach to everything. We can also recognize the damaging effects of selfish I win/you lose solutions or when playing the victim, a resentful attitude that says, “Okay, you win and I lose . . . Again!” Great teammates are looking for win-win at every opportunity and benefit in many ways from having this as the best choice for how they want to live their lives.

It Is Not Over Until It Is Over

Bob and others at tableWhile I am ready to move on to other priorities, Bob has a lot more coaching to do. In his own words,

“I still have something left on my fastball.”

For you not as well versed in sports analogies, that means he is going to continue for several more years. And why wouldn’t he? I believe he is actually getting better as the years go by, and JP Horizons will continue along with him in 2022. And, once again, we’ll see another win-win solution at JP Horizons.

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