January Read Focuses on Building Culture

This past January, the boy’s hockey program was tasked with reading The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle. The reading of this book culminated with a presentation to the whole school. As a hockey player at Northwood, I felt I could give a firsthand perspective of how much this book can teach the Northwood community.

The book breaks creating a good culture into three areas: Safety, Vulnerability, and Purpose. These three things can be applied to a school or team setting. Safety is essential to creating a healthy environment. Everyone needs to know that others in the group back them. Trying to improve how safe everyone feels dives right into the ability to show vulnerability. Vulnerability is hard to implement because it’s not natural for us to let down our walls to those around us voluntarily. Typically, you think of a vulnerability as a weakness, opening yourself up to an attack. The book changes this stigma by showing how vulnerability can be a team’s greatest strength. It starts with the leaders of the community or team. It won’t seem as difficult for those not in leadership if leaders are role models and open up about their weaknesses. It is important to embrace the discomfort of being vulnerable, and if everyone does this, it won’t seem unnatural for the group. Purpose is the last characteristic of culture and perhaps the most fundamental of the three. If a community doesn’t share a common purpose, it will be made up of individuals, not teammates. Striving for a common purpose is much easier when the previous two characteristics are met. Implementing these simple disciplines can help a team or community become more tight-knit and more like a family.

The 2022-23 Prep hockey team during September action at the Olympic Center (Photo: Mr. Michael Aldridge).

The boy’s hockey presentation demonstrated what the book taught us. It consisted of a standard PowerPoint that allowed us to tell the school what we had learned. The real greatness of the presentation came in the form of a brief speech by Jack Kent ‘23 and a fun performance to end it. Jack Kent is a boys’ prep team member, and this is his second year at Northwood. What he shared was nothing short of impressive. For those of you who don’t know him, he has struggled with building his confidence. As his teammate, I am happy to say he has taken considerable strides in building it. He demonstrated what being vulnerable means; he doesn’t like speaking in front of huge groups and spoke in front of the whole school. He opened up about his insecurities and showed what it means to embrace the discomfort of vulnerability. It was a great sight to see, and knowing him, I and many others are proud of him for taking this on. The presentation ended with a song about vulnerability led by Hudson Dinapoli ‘23, singing with more of the team on instruments and singing for support. It went great, and seeing the program come together for this presentation was fantastic.

This book and presentation show how implementing three things into a community or team can bring it closer than ever. The boy’s hockey program came together for this presentation and had students like Jack Kent embrace vulnerability in order to make it more meaningful. Adding purpose, safety, and vulnerability to our school could allow us to become a closer-knit community. I look forward to seeing how the Northwood community uses these tips, and I hope the rest of the community can also learn from what the boy’s hockey program read about this past January.


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