“You’ve got the personality of a blocked punt.” – Bill Campbell, aka The Coach of Silicon Valley
Bill Campbell, aka “Coach,” had a way with words. He could level with everyone from eighth-grade girls on his powder-puff football team to world-class executives like Steve Jobs. He didn’t just build relationships, he built communities everywhere he went.
There are lots of great Bill-isms about business, but this post is about the type I led with: the somewhat snarky kind intended to make a person laugh and disarm them. It’s in these, “wait… what?!” moments we tend to find ourselves at our most curious and open.
Beyond the realized power of built communities, lies the foundational activities of how to build a community up. Campbell was a master of this.
Step number one was and always will be disarming people. We have to get people to drop their emotional armor (in Brené Brown speak). We do this by making them laugh, making them feel comfortable, and making them feel safe.
If you tell someone that they, or somebody who was just talking, “had the personality of a blocked punt,” you’re going to get a reaction. If they understand it comes from a caring and supportive place, you’re going to start a real relationship. If done non-confrontationally, it’s a disarming statement.
Any of us can do this. We didn’t have to know “Coach” to understand why he told his jokes, gave his legendary hugs, or punched people softly in the arm. All we have to know is that when people let their guard down and feel safe, amazing things can happen.
Don’t just exist in the community, make it your own. And laugh a little too. We all need it. Help people shed their armor and appreciate what it means to be on the team.
Ps. I’ve written more about Campbell here, but this weekend I discovered a podcast series called, “No Bull: Life-Changing Conversations With Bill Campbell” and they’re delightful. If you want to be a better coach, leader, or friend – check them out.