Pulling In The Same Direction

LIFE LESSON:

“A successful team learns how to work together, not against one another.” 

There’s a scene in that great American comedy series, The Three Stooges, where Moe and Curly are digging two foxholes. As Mo throws a shovel full of dirt over his shoulder into Curly’s hole, Curly is throwing another scoop of dirt into Moe’s hole. In the tradition of the comedy of the clueless, it takes a couple of minutes for one of them (Moe) to figure out what is happening. 

For some teams, the difference between success and failure comes down to a tendency to work against one another instead of with one another. A step forward is discounted by an error in judgment. Something negative that happens in the school hallway resurfaces in a reluctance to pass to a teammate in the midst of a game. There becomes a battle seen by those observing the contest between some of the members of a team. They are pulling in different directions. In essence, they’re simply throwing dirt into the other foxhole. 

Successful teams find a rhythm to their work or performance. They have discovered and defined the roles of each teammate: who is the best defender, who is the best rebounder, who handles the basketball, who comes off the bench and picks the team up, who is the team cheerleader, and who is the go-to scorer? Successful teams discover those roles and succeed because of it. 

Years ago I was coaching a girls’ junior varsity team and I noticed that one of the players wasn’t passing the ball to a wide-open teammate. When I shouted to her that the teammate was open, another girl sitting on the bench said, “Coach, she’s not going to pass to her?” I asked why and she replied, “Because she heard that she (the teammate) was talking to her boyfriend in  the hallway today.”

I was dumbfounded! Differences had poured from their personal lives onto the court. 

In today’s culture there are more challenges for a team to experience success than there are ingredients of success. You can see it especially in a player’s drive for statistics. After all, a college coach is going to look at scoring average, rebounds, how well a player shoots three-pointers. The drive for individual recognition is always a tension point with team success. 

Jealousy, self-centeredness, overconfidence, lack of effort, not being coachable, not listening…all of those are challenges to a team’s rhythm and success. 

Successful teams discover a fluidness that leads them smoothly down the stream. They support one another, congratulate each other on achievements, create an environment of equality no matter whether it’s the best player or the last perps on the bench. When one player suffers the team empathizes with him. There is an attitude that says, We’re in this together!

I think of an Olympic rowing team. The importance of the oars hitting the water in a synchronized fashion determines success or disappointment. I think of teams I’ve coached where there’s been “an oar” that sticks out like a sore thumb in its bad timing or minimal effort. One person out-of-synch can detour a team away from victory.

Explore posts in the same categories: Novels, RED HOT Life Lessons

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