Wanderings – There is no ‘I’ in team…

Anyone who has been involved in sports, either as a player, coach, or parent, knows the phrase, “There is no ‘I’ in team.”

It is oft repeated to emphasize the importance of putting the result of the team above individual results. How successful the team is matters more than how any one player does.

For team sports, it is crucial for everyone to work together and each do their part to make that team a success.

Teamwork is key, so the experts say. Everyone on the team runs or rows in the same direction. Work together; pass the puck or the ball if you can’t take the shot; get along.

Experience supports this. Players who check their egos at the bench are more likely to find success, and have fun doing it.

Any of the youth soccer teams I have been fortunate enough to have coached had the best success following that formula. A successful team is more than the sum of its parts.

Egos can derail a team in the blink of an eye. Any player who’d rather take their own shot and fail, than pass the ball to their teammates who may have a better chance, isn’t a team player.

Many team efforts have been sabotaged by egos in the non-sporting world. Personal fifedoms and residing in silos are a great way of ensuring that a team effort ends in failure.

There are many people in business or politics that put their own successes above that of the team. Sometimes that works. A rising tide raises all boats. If a star or ‘mover-and-shaker’ can find success, everyone around is brought up too. Or at least those who are closest to that particular star rise, but usually at the expense of others further away.

In many cases, egos can and will cause a business or political effort to flounder. For those with unchecked egos, it doesn’t matter if everyone rows the same way as long as their boat crosses the finish line. Who cares who gets left behind because they won! Except winning isn’t everything and how you win is as important as the win itself.

This filter can be applied to examine many situations politically. Look at the important issues at all levels of government: local, provincial, and federal. Are political leaders really putting their egos in check to work for the greater good, those who they are elected to represent? Are those leaders working together to come up with solutions for our current problems? In many cases, egos are outshining efforts.

Large or small, political or business or sports, working as a team is important. Checking one’s ego at the door, rolling up one’s sleeves, dipping an oar in the water and moving in the same direction towards a common goal is key. There is no ‘I’ in team.

Originally published in the November 25th edition of The Morrisburg Leader.