Vince Lombardi described teamwork as “individual commitment to a group effort.”
Football is one of the most analyzed sports in the world. Watch a game from beginning to end and you’ll learn some things. You’ll see that there are many players with different roles. Each player on the field has a stake in the team’s success. The offensive line works to protect the quarterback long enough for him to hand off the ball to his running back or pass it to a receiver. The ball carrier then must penetrate the other team’s defensive holes to advance. Blockers help prevent the runner from being tackled too soon.
The other team’s goal is to slow down or stop the offensive team from reaching the goal line.
No one player can accomplish as much as a group united for a common purpose.
A team with spirit is a powerful force. Spirit exists in a team composed of individuals who are willing to make sacrifices for the common good. Why sacrifice? Because we have to wage war with three natural tendencies.
The first thing committed team members sacrifice is the satisfaction of their egos.
We all bring our own agendas to the things we do. We feel good when others follow our lead, praise our ideas, and take our advice. Deep down, we feel the world would be better if it confirmed to our ideals.
But it doesn’t, does it?
We can be right at least half the time. So go ahead and share. Just remember others can be right too. When you’re part of a team, the standard is the good of the whole.
If you’ve ever been to a picnic invaded by ants, you’ll often see a trail of them working together to bring home the bacon bits, bread crumbs, and potato chip fragments. They know the colony needs food to survive. They don’t waste one second worrying about who brought back the most, did it the fastest, or looked the best doing it.
In other words, they don’t compete with each other – they work together to fill the community food chest.
The second sacrifice committed team members make is competing with other team members.
Goals are necessary if we want to grow. Will your goals benefit you and the team, or just you? Are you willing to do what it takes to make your team better or are you more interested in standing out so people will notice you?
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive for personal excellence. It does change your motivation for doing so. Living to stroke your ego won’t get you as far as genuinely serving others will. While we admire star performers, we come to despise hot shots.
Be great. Do it for your teammates, your customers, and for strangers. People help those who help them.
The third sacrifice committed team members make is the chance to bask in one’s own glory.
The most impressive quality Aaron Murray possessed was his immediate deference to the team in post game interviews. Sure, he set records. Of course, he could pass the ball fifty yards and hit the intended receiver’s chest. Without a doubt, he could make critical decisions in a split second. But I never recall hearing him bask in his own glory, no matter how that interviewer might gush over his performance.
That what made him a great team player. His agenda was what was good for the team. And he devoted his energy to that and nothing else.
Teamwork takes sacrifice. Put aside your ego, your desire to compete with your colleagues, and to bask in the glory of your individual achievements. If every team member does these things, the team spirit that emerges will create a winning environment.
Who wouldn’t want to be a part of something like that?