Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Go Team

Watching the Olympics got me thinking about the concept of teamwork. When we hear the word "team" most of us probably picture our favorite sports team: hockey, football, basketball, soccer, baseball and the like. As a parent, we immediately think how many hours we will spend driving our children to and from practices, games and tournaments. If we play, we think of the fun we have being part of the team. It doesn't matter if we're a cheerleader or the go-to guy, who comes through in the clutch, we like being part of the team. It makes us part of something bigger than ourselves. Think back to how many times we witnessed this in the Olympics, as individual team members were inspired, encouraged and supported by their teammates. Individually they may not have qualified for the gold, but as a team they stood at the top of the platform.

It then occurred to me how we are all part of some team. At work I am part of a group of people that contributes to the whole. I do work much like an auto worker on the line: I perform one or two specific functions to the best of my ability and then pass the task along. By myself I do not produce an automobile, but as a team there is a brand new car rolling off the line -- regularly -- just like clockwork.

I am also part of a family. If I am married and have children, my wife and I are a parenting team. If I am not married I am still part of a team -- that team defined as my greater family. The members of the team each perform their tasks, making up the collective identity of the family. Some of you are the "keeper of the family tree"; some are the "teller of tales"; others play the part of the "dreamer" -- always asking what-if questions, which prompt families to host events like reunions and other celebrations.

No matter how many teams you find yourself on, it is your task as a team member to define and execute your role. This is no easy challenge, since these teams are frequently changing. You may move from team member to head coach, as you get married. You may move from coach to general manager, as you have children. You may even retire from the basketball league and start playing on the softball team. Then again you may move from softball to golf. Each change brings a new set of instructions and actions.

But no matter what your role, you contribute best to the team when you use your gifts and talents to the top of your ability, always growing in your knowledge and skill.

Game on!

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