“Individual commitment to a group effort – that’s what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Vince Lombardi
I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone who has made it through life completely alone. Even though a country might have one leader, he does not rule alone. A company has a president, but there is always a support staff. A team has a coach, but without players you don’t have a team. Because I sometimes find myself wanting to do things on my own, I need to be reminded that, as John Donne so aptly put it, “No man is an island, entire of itself; Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”
Basketball is my favorite sport, and I particularly love to see a team that plays as a team, as opposed to a group of individuals trying to each be the star. It seems so simple to me, from my vantage point behind a camera or a television screen, to see the missed opportunities to involve a team member. Maybe your sport is hockey or football, and maybe your team is a department of people at your place of business. “Team members” is how several companies refer to their employees. It’s just a title, though, unless you decide that you want to be part of the team. Sadly, you can’t force other people to want to be team players, and that is when things begin to crumble. Have you seen it in your own ‘team’? I might be a fan of team sports, but it’s the game of life that has caught my attention. You can’t be the only player on your team for long. You will tire, you will wear down, and the team will lose. You can’t, and neither can I.
Recently, I stopped to grab a bite to eat at one of my favorite restaurants. In the middle of the meal, the servers changed. I asked “Did I offend my server?” “No,” he responded “she had to leave, and I just took over.” I had a short conversation with him about the fact that he was willing to step up and fill in so pleasantly for someone else, and his response could pretty much sum up my post: “The management here has the best ‘team’ thinking of any company I’ve worked for. I’ve played a lot of sports, and the thinking here is really the same: Without the players working together and behaving as a team, there is no winning.” Well, there you have it.
I said it could sum up the post, but there is a bit more. I’ve noticed that people look for their own situations in what I write. If it isn’t there, it must not apply to them. If a family works as a team, chores get done more quickly. If an office works as a team, people usually get to go home on time. If a team plays as a team, everyone looks good. A ball hog on the court is the player who always wants to be in control of the action, but there are also ball hogs in life–the only person who thinks she can do the job, whatever it might be. When life is starting to unravel for your ‘team’, it might be time to ask for someone outside the group to step in. Maybe you just need to read a good article, but there are also mediators and life coaches that can help with this very thing.
There is a heavy metal band out of California called Metallica. They began performing together more than 30 years ago. As happens in bands, problems began to develop among the members, and those problems could have led to the end of the group. This band, however, was smart. They called in a man by the name of Phil Towle, a psychotherapist who usually works with the egos of professional ball teams to bring them into one line of thinking. Metallica’s manager thought he might be able to help them in the same way.
I am not particularly a fan of heavy metal–I know that will shock several readers–but I am always a fan of people who are willing to consider that they could be doing things differently to serve the greater good. (My friend Christy was able to find the Metallica documentary in her collection, thankfully) Metallica’s members were willing to listen to Towle as he said a couple of important things that you and I can apply to our own teams (family, office, clubs, school):
- You must get to a place where you don’t let egos get in the way.
- When you battle with each other in unnecessary conflict, you suffer side effects from it, and the energy is compromised by unresolved tension.
How important is your ‘team’ to you? Does it matter enough to make changes, to check your ego at the door? If we start in our own homes, churches, schools, and businesses to look at the other members on the team, could we win more games, suffer less side effects, and resolve the tension?
Am I willing to make an individual commitment to a group effort? Yes, I am. I recognized that I was tuning out someone ‘weaker’ than I because I didn’t want to entertain a different point of view. I made a conscious choice to stop and to listen to their words. It’s a small change, but just recognizing the need and being willing to try is a pretty good beginning. Allowing for someone else’s opinion can be an immediate game changer.
Like the synchronized movements of a flock of birds, our movements should be to support the group effort. Civilization and society are waiting for each of us to make an individual commitment. That isn’t just a pretty picture I’ve been painting on this page, it is the possibility of life to hold more meaning for us by working together. Take a time out, call a new play, and I’ll bet your season progresses better than before.