We're Going Streaking! Winning Streaking!

Winning streaks. How do they always seem to come around when needed the most? A game in which every call goes your way and every ball on the line is fair instead of foul. A miraculous postseason run. A championship.

When you’re feeling the high that comes with a winning streak, you’ll do almost anything to keep it going. And if you think you’re superstitious, imagine how players react to a winning streak. When somebody on the team has a “hot hand,” they'll eat the same meals, wear the same socks, follow the same routine for as long as they can to keep that streak alive. As soon as it's snapped, they'll never touch those socks again.

But what if I told you the "hot hand" was just a myth?

Apparently, winning a few games in a row doesn’t affect future wins like we think it does. According to Dr. John Eliot, Clinical Associate Professor at Texas A&M, winning streaks don’t define momentum. The factors that truly determine success are elements of a team’s culture. Things like trust between teammates, having a higher rate of physical interaction (high fives, pats on the back), and high levels of confidence in yourself and your teammates are what really make a difference in how well a team performs.

But wait a minute, you’re thinking, don’t those things naturally happen more if a team is winning? For many teams, they do – but teams without a strong cultural foundation will lose their momentum and go back to their old ways as soon as the going gets tough again.

Sustainable winning patterns emerge from teammates who are more invested in each other than individually invested in winning. Almost sounds counterintuitive doesn't it?

Think of it this way. Did you ever have a coach or teacher who pretty much scared you into performing your best? You were motivated by the fear of disappointing Coach or losing your place in the line-up if you weren't producing. That's not the best way to reach the full potential of the team. When players know their spot is at risk, they play with less confidence and are less likely to support each other. It's tough to win a championship when players are focused on competing amongst themselves rather than on competing against another team.

On the other hand, have you ever noticed that the teams that are winning are the ones that look like they’re having the most fun? Some might say they are having fun because they are winning, but based on these recent findings, I'd bet they are winning because they are having fun. They are soaking up every moment, genuinely happy to see their teammates succeed, and everything else just falls into place from there. Every championship speech from the Coach includes how "great the team fit together...like family" and "how much fun" they had that year. Doesn't sound like a coincidence to me...

This mentality should apply to other areas as well. Work. Family. All of it.

According to Dr. Eliot, when you don’t have that same type of strong cultural foundation in your workplace, you’re going to be at a competitive disadvantage. Having the right type of environment isn’t just about what the leaders in an organization do. Like a good coach, the senior people in the organization set the tone but it’s up to the entire team to work together to build momentum. It’s about peer-to-peer support, strong relationships, and genuinely caring about the people you work with. In our office, we have a philosophy of not letting your teammates fail. We are here for each other. We work together, within and between our positions, to find the best possible solutions for our clients, and no doubt, we have fun while doing it.

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Travis (not verified)
The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) based in Wyoming, and with schools across the globe, uses the phrase "Expedition Behavior". EB describes how we work together to make a strong team. Behaviors include: serve the mission, support leadership and growth in everyone, do your share and stay organized, treat others with dignity, model integrity, help others but don't routinely do their work, admit and correct mistakes, be concerned for others, etc. Basically, ask the question: "How my I support you?" It sounds like EB has become part of Old Hat DNA!

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