A few years ago, I was a goalkeeper in a sport called handball, it’s an international sport. It doesn’t necessarily exist in the US, but it does internationally. It’s an Olympic sport. It’s amazing. It’s very fast paced sport and shaped my future. It is a team sport and the goalkeeper is very much on point, which is obvious since there’s only one person in the game. I enjoy it and I would say I was reasonably good at it. When I was 15 years old I was asked to be a part of the senior team and the guys that were a little bit older than me, most of them anyways, I had a few guys in my age really, talented guys.
The starting goalkeeper was very talented and a very nice man. He was so focused and a successful business man today. As a team, we travelled around, we had something like six hours to go to one game, same back of course in a bus. I was sitting on the bench being the backup guy and didn’t play anything basically. One day he (the starting goalkeeper) came over and he sat with me and he said, how do you feel traveling with the team? I said, um, well it’s nice to be a part of the team but of course I like to play more. He said, do you know why you’re not playing? I said, I guess is because you’re better than me. He said, yeah, because I’m better than you, but here’s the thing, if you want to get to be better than me. You need to practice more. You have to practice more than I do.
If you practice as much as I do then I will be better than you all the time and he continued, unfortunately, if I know you’re practicing more, I will also practice more. So then, you’re going to be number two anyway. I was thinking “where is he going with this” it makes no sense. He said, listen to this, the backup goalkeeper, often feel that they’re kind of not worth anything, they sit there the whole entire game just watching. The way you act in every practice and every preparation, everything you do to try to take my spot drives me to be better. The team that has the best backup goalkeeper will win the division. Don’t think you’re not important, you might be the most important player.
Hearing that from a senior guy when you’re 15 years old that was powerful for me. Then, every practice after that he was pushing me to be better. He gave me exercises, feedback, everything you can imagine so I can be better. I was thinking, why is he doing this, because I can take his place? Why would you do anything like this? Then I realized, and I’m sure you have already, he was pushing himself to be better, of course he did. He gave me everything he knew. While I was learning that he was learning something new, clever, I stole that idea from that day.
I love teaching and showing and sharing my knowledge with others and I believe if you hold on to your information, maybe to be unique and important for the organization, your knowledge will become old. Your value decreases since you’re not pushing yourself to learn new. If you do push yourself by sharing all the time, you become so valuable for the organization and for your own career as well because; guess what happens? By teaching others, you learn the content of the work or that theory you’re teaching people. You learn that better than anybody else. Sharing information is absolutely key for your own development, not only for others.
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Johan Majlov, CEO Lean Dimensions International