I love this time of year! In Texas, September through January is almost holy; it’s football season. I have a 10-year-old grandson who has been playing since he was 5! The thought of a Texas boy not playing football is incomprehensible.

When you play a team sport, in particular football, you learn valuable lessons that, when learned early, have a large influence on your ability to succeed.

I want to highlight four valuable lessons that being part of a successful team teaches us, whether that team plays football or provides quality eyecare.

1. Selflessness 

Being on a team teaches you that it isn’t always about you. There are times when your role is to assist others in making the big play. This is also true in an optometry practice. Sometimes the person who gets credit for a patient’s great experience isn’t the only one involved. Someone took care in the lab to make sure the glasses were made correctly. Someone performed the preliminary test to ensure an accurate prescription. On a winning team, everyone is there to support the team. President Ronald Reagan said, “There’s no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” Team success teaches selflessness.

2. Intuition

If you watch professional sports, you’ll see that players seem to have this uncanny knowledge of what their teammates will do. Watch Larry Byrd and the great Boston Celtics teams of the 1980s. Many times, they don’t even look for the other player; they intuitively know he will be there to receive a pass. Intuition is an almost magical component of teamwork. Through repetition of procedures, each team member begins to anticipate the work and ability of the others. When a process is consistently followed, questions are answered before they are asked. We’ve done this over and over and the intuition developed means the team performs well.

3. Confidence

Winning teams’ members are confident in their teammates and vice versa. This confidence is built through the integrated dependence of one team member on another. The optician has confidence in the information from the preliminary exam because they have confidence in the person performing those procedures. By working day in and day out with each other, the winning team develops confidence in itself and its ability to deliver an experience not threatened by competition.

4. Cross-training

A team that performs at the highest level is one in which all members can perform any duty. Think about the NFL. Many successful wide receivers and tight ends were quarterbacks in high school and college. That makes a difference in understanding the dynamics of the forward pass. Some corner backs were receivers in college; they have an advantage when it comes to defending the forward pass. We may not think of it as cross-training, but it is. If everyone on your team is trained to do every job, you’ll be stronger, there will be more cohesiveness among the team and when someone resigns (and you know eventually someone will) you won’t be in a position where the team cannot perform.

With more than 25 years of experience in the ophthalmic and optometric practice industry, John D. Marvin writes about marketing, management and education at the practiceprinciples.net blog. He is president of Texas State Optical. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This article originally appeared in the November-December 2017 edition of INVISION


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