No ‘I’ In Team

I begin my article with a story that was once shared by my university football team coach. It was half time on a terribly cold, typical British winter afternoon (minus 2 to be exact) and we found ourselves staring at a 2 nil deficit in a very important Cup game. As we sat there disheartened and quick to point the finger of blame at one another, Troy (our coach), using a few choice expletives, called us to order. He began to utter some football jargon before telling us the following story. 

A flock of hungry pigeons were flying across the sky in search of food. Having traveled a long distance, they felt tired and settled down on a tree. Just below the tree, they saw grains strewn all over the ground. The pigeons were happy to have found enough food to eat. All the pigeons came down from the tree and started eating the grains. As they were doing so, a huge net fell on them and trapped them all. The pigeons were taken aback. They noticed a hunter sitting a distance from the tree, a bow and arrow in hand. The pigeons realized it was the hunter who had attracted them by strewing the grains and it was he who had trapped them in the net. The hunter got up and began to move towards the pigeons.

The leader of the pigeons spoke, “Friends, we are in great trouble. The hunter will catch us if we do not act swiftly in a few seconds. There is only one option available at this moment. Let all of us use our force together and fly up along with the net. If all of us use our force and fly together, we can fly carrying the net along with us. Let us start now.” All the pigeons agreed with him and flew high carrying the net along with them. After travelling a sufficient distance away from the hunter, the pigeons settled on a tree and carefully came out of the net one by one, thus escaping the evil design of the hunter.

Riled up by his short story, and also the fear of what retribution we would suffer were we to lose the game, we took to the pitch with a new perspective and more ‘pep’ in our step. Suddenly we put our egos and pride a side and were all jointly fighting for one cause. Yes, we were all individually talented. Yes, we all had points to prove (or so we thought), but who were we proving them to? Prior to that halftime dressing down we had all forgotten the ethos of what team sport is about, teamwork that is, which is the ability of several individual talents to pull together for a common goal. Whether I scored (which I did, but that’s a story for another day) or the defender scored was not important. What was important was the success of the team.

As employees of organisations, we each are tasked with varied duties in our day to day functions. The dynamic nature of what we do calls on us as individuals to be flexible and fluid in our operations as well as in our mental approach. It will, on many occasions, require us to step out of our comfort zones and this can indeed be daunting, but by trusting in the collective strengths of the team and communicating effectively, we should be able to surmount our individual fears and weaknesses. The success of the collective is a reflection of everyone’s individual efforts and is ultimately everyone’s success. Let us bear this little lesson in mind just as my team mates and I did that dreary afternoon. Oh, by the way, we lost the game but gained a valuable life lesson!

By Shaun K. Osore – Sterling Q Events Specialist

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