Insights on business,
life, and leadership —
right in your inbox!

BIG TEAM, little me

January 5, 2021

In this new year, I want the things I do to be less about me.

Whether it’s my position at ADDO, the way I am volunteering at church, or my role in my family, I want to make a conscious effort to focus more on the ways that I am contributing to something greater than myself. My individual roles are important, but they matter most because they’re working for the good of others.

Hall of Fame football coach Vince Dooley is a mentor, friend, and hero of mine. The year he led the Georgia Bulldogs to win the National Championship his team’s philosophy was BIG TEAM, little me. The idea was that the team’s success was most important, and it depended on everyone’s contribution. An individual player may be the star of the moment, but he knows that he wouldn’t have been able to make the play without the help of the other players on the field. A few years ago, for our Chick-fil-A Leader Academy program, I interviewed Coach Dooley at the College Football Hall of Fame.

Check out this story where I ask him about the BIG TEAM, little me approach:

I want to adopt this same BIG TEAM, little me mentality this year.

My role matters, but I can’t be successful without the other people on my team.


For the 2000 Olympic games, Tommy Lasorda had a similar philosophy for his gold-medal winning USA baseball team. How do you get a group of star professional athletes—who have never played together before—to work together to win? Lasorda decided to take a page from The Yankees playbook and take the athletes’ names off their jerseys. Winning the Olympic gold medal was not about individual achievement. It was about the team, and ultimately, about representing the United States.

But athletics isn’t the only realm where a BIG TEAM, little me philosophy results in success. The Coca-Cola Company has always championed their brand. To Coke, recognition of the brand is more important than the recognition of an individual person. When former president Robert Woodruff was named Man of the Year, he didn’t want just a photo of his face on the cover of a magazine. He wanted the brand to be emphasized. He was only about 20% of the cover, while a large image of Coca-Cola’s brand with cartons of Coke behind him was the remainder of the photo. He understood that he was just one man, a part of something bigger than himself.

How do we follow these iconic examples? How do we make it not about us? The things we do matter a lot. Who we are matters a lot. But real impact happens when who we are and the things we do are oriented toward something bigger.

It’s easy to shift to one of two extremes on this spectrum. On one end of the spectrum, we can be self-important, and the things we do are all about us. When we fail on this end, it’s all personal, and we’re left feeling empty. But on the other end of the spectrum, you don’t think what you do is important. This is also dangerous because it can be an excuse for mediocrity—and that’s certainly not what this blog is promoting.

BIG TEAM, little me is about pursuing excellence in your individual role for the good of your entire team. Success for all is success for you. You have an important role to play, but just remember, it’s not about you.


Insights on business,
life, and leadership —
right in your inbox!