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The Meaning of Teamwork

I work with a team of people, as I'm sure most people do, but when it comes to sports I'm usually competing alone, or so it might seem during the event. Of course no athlete is ever competing alone, even if it's a triathlon, sport climb or swim. Behind the scenes are always groups of trainers, family and friends that establish a foundation of stability that allows the athlete to focus on meeting their objectives.

Who is on your team? As a software engineer, I might think that much of my time is spent alone jamming out code as quickly and efficiently as possible - just so I can meet an objective. Sometimes this attitude might even create some tunnel vision that will have me straining to avoid help or interaction with others, thinking that focusing so intently on our objective will help us reach it sooner. My experience at work, as a athlete and in my personal life has shown that whenever we get into that tunnel, our progress toward the real objective is actually significantly diminished.

How can that be? Well, it might be that what you are focusing on is not actually going to help you achieve your objective. Or that the focus causes you to loose sight of other things that always were or have become more important. We need others in our lives to help us find purpose, to remind us of what is truly the most important thing. I have an image of my future self, as many of you probably also do. I have a plan of things I need to do to become that person. So when I get bogged down at work, dumping extra hours upon hours into a project, choosing to focus on it rather than the exercise routine, time with family or other activities, am I really doing what I need to do to become what I want?

Granted there are times when the demands of one aspect of life will detract from the others, but when you consider that every activity should serve to help you become that person, it may help you restore the balance. I enjoy my work in software, but creating the greatest software just for the purpose of creating something great is a self defeating objective. I want to great something great because I think achieving greatness in that aspect of life will support achieving greatness in another. It doesn't matter what your profession is, this idea can apply anywhere whether you are a health care worker, accountant, artist, homemaker or laborer. Do great work in your profession, not to become great in your profession, but to support the greatness of the other aspects in you life: family, faith, fitness, friends... etc.

The team keeps us balanced, gives us perspective, gives us ideas and motivation that comes from a diverse set of life experiences. The team helps us remember the why, especially at times when the tunnel vision starts to set in. Even and especially at times when you think, "I don't need a team for this" you must take a pause, have a discussion with others, explain your why and listen to their input. Whether at work, exercising or at home, opening up to the others on your team builds trust, and trust builds better teams, better teams build better people. At home my team is my wife and kids, in fact at work they are still part of my team, because they are my why. At work a few others join my team and together we make plans and contribute to work that will benefit each member. We all benefit in many ways from including a team in our work, regardless of the work. Building an effective team, not that's a topic for another essay.

The meaning of teamwork, is progress, it is also love, friendship, service, support, and sacrifice. And by it, because of it, through it, we seem to defy the laws of physics, creating an energy that appears to be greater that that which was contributed by its members.


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