Simply, culture is a way of being in the world.
Or another shortcut I use is, "People like us do things like this."
Culture is a posture, an environment, and a community. Every grouping of people has a culture. The local high school cross country teams have a culture. High Performance West had a culture. As do other running clubs throughout the world.
Groups can share certain norms, customs, and worldviews and yet not exist in exactly the same space within the culture. And I think that is important to call out. Because my way of being in the world is not identical to yours or any of our peers. Yes, we can share elements or norms, but culture is constantly being refined and groomed by the actions of the players in the arena.
Culture is the most critical ingredient of any team or organization, but it is also the most difficult to manage and control. As coaches, we can only model behavior in an effort to inspire athletes to adopt a similar posture and way of being. They must choose how to act moment to moment.
Culture is not formulaic with a series of static inputs which produces a predictable output. Instead, it is more algorithmic. The steps taken to manifest a culture into being depend on a variety of variables and influences.
So if you're aware and intent on shaping a culture, my advice is to consistently show up, have something useful to say, and contribute. Your presence and efforts will make an impact and, if you're lucky, will inspire others to act and contribute as well.
Thanks for reading. I'm glad you're here. // jm