What We Can Learn from One Great Ski Team

GapEach Olympics abounds with stories of individual triumph, fierce determination, and voracious wills to succeed. And then I read about the hugely successful Norwegian men’s Alpine team, a small but mighty band of skiers that include three out of the four top-ranked, overall World Cup skiers in the world – as well as gold and silver medalists in the 2018 winter games.

The secret to their success? A team culture that is grounded in five core principles, what one reporter described as “a contrarian mix of humility, egalitarianism, and basic respect.”

  1. No jerks. Everyone gets along.
  2. No rookies and no champions. Everyone is an equal member of the team.
  3. The social fabric of the group is paramount.
  4. You talk to each other, not about each other.
  5. Friday night is taco night!

I like to think that the same can be said of Episcopal schools when we are at our very best: humility as a virtue, basic respect as a given, egalitarianism as a strength. No jerks. Rookies and champions working as equals. Minding the social fabric.  

Like the Norwegian Alpine team, staying true to such “contrarian” values does not diminish excellence, but fuels it. Of course, taco night doesn’t hurt, either.