Major international sporting events like the World Cup create a terrific opportunity to focus on the elements that enable high performance. These elements are applicable not only to elite and social sport, but also organisational teams.
Specifically the Australian Socceroos Round One loss to Germany by a record breaking four goals to nil score line highlights the power of team talk. The Australian media have gone into a frenzy debating whether this current Socceroos team has what it takes to create success at the World Cup. Success, in the media's eyes and re-enforced by the Australian Socceroos themselves is reaching the competitions quarterfinals.
Imagine the possible team talk in the Socceroos change rooms regarding next Monday's game against Ghana. "If we lose this game it is all over. Our World Cup Campaign will be finished. Our reputations will be equal to mud if we get thrashed again."
Such team talk creates a focus on the outcome rather than the moment, and also creates a strong and vivid image of failure. Humans have a remarkable capacity to focus on what they don't want and then go ahead and create it. When I ride my motorbike I have to be aware of the truck that is coming toward me. But if I focus on the truck I will ride my motorbike straight into the truck (the same is true for bicycles - you travel where you look). Clearly I don't want to ride my motorcycle into a truck, so I have to become disciplined at focussing on where I do want to go, while being aware of the truck at the same time.
The same is true for teams and team talk. Your team talk reflects what you are focussing on. As the image highlights, team talk leads to team image which then affects performance. Negative team talk leads to a negative team image which, like a magnet, draws the team's performance in that direction. Of course the performance then re-enforces that the team talk was accurate and a vicious cycle is created.
Team talk by itself does not guarantee success. Nothing does. But positive team talk that focuses on what the team can control, such as its systems and processes when balanced with the right work or training increases the chances that success will be achieved. When negative team talk is present it significantly increases the probablility that failure will occur.
In this context teams must focus on what they can control and the team talk that relates to success. If the Australian Socceroos are to achieve the success they desire then focussing on their team talk is a powerful approach to adopt.
I believe Henry Ford was right when he said, "If you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right either way!".
What is the team talk present in your teams? Is it positive? Is it negative? Is it focussed on what you can control?
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