Thoughts on Teamwork

If you’re like me, you’ve undoubtedly heard somebody who used to play on an athletic team make a statement like this: Everyone ought to participate in organized sports as a teen. Learning to work with others is important and being on a team is a great way to do that.

That makes sense, even though the closest I came to being a team member was in disorganized backyard baseball as a pre-teen. I probably wouldn’t have been permitted to play if the backyard hadn’t been mine. I was equally unsuited for team play in junior high and high school gym class.

Not because I was uncooperative. Not because I didn’t try hard. But because I was a terrible athlete, no matter what the sport. Age hasn’t improved things any.

As an adult, teamwork didn’t seem overly relevant in my first two careers. As a secondary school English teacher, I interacted with fellow faculty, but what I did or failed to do didn’t affect them any more than their activities affected me.

As a counselor/interviewer for the Maryland State Job Service, I was one of several people doing the same job in the same office. How I did my job affected my clients, though. Not fellow staff.  Or so I thought until the very end of my working there.

I was scheduled to move away and begin work in Virginia as a computer programmer, and I managed to leave a huge amount of paperwork undone. Paperwork I had always detested doing. I’ll never forget the look of disappointment on my supervisor’s face when he saw it. He didn’t have to say anything. I’d thoughtlessly let the people I’d never thought of as a team down.

I enjoyed a certain amount of solitude in my programming. Solitude and independence. I don’t think I really appreciated the effect my work had on other members of my team until the time I faced such a major deadline that my inability to get my part done actually gave me anxiety attacks. The pressure was too great, and I went home the day before everything needed to be completed, pretending to myself as well as to everyone else that I’d finished my part.

I hadn’t. I deserved to be fired.

Instead, I watched my job performance go further downhill until my company needed to do some downsizing. I didn’t have to wonder whether I would be laid off. It only made sense. If I couldn’t be a functional part of the team, I didn’t deserve to be there.

I spent three years on the register at Target, awaiting the time I could retire early. Thank goodness I’d finally learned my lesson about teamwork. I just wish I’d learned it years earlier. Organized athletics wouldn’t have done it for me, but surely something would have.

Who are you? Are you a team player or more like the way I was for too long? How about leaving a comment?

I’ll have more to say on this on Sunday. Please come back again if you’re interested.


Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Teamwork

  1. Humanity is a team effort. We cannot survive alone for long. Marriage is a team effort, too.If you think not you may find yourself single in a hurry.

    Almost every activity I can think of is a team effort. The driver of a sports car relies on his pit crew. The sprinter in the Olympics relies on his coaches and training partners. A writer who wants to get published must seek out help from editors, proof readers, publishers, etc. etc.

    My kitchen is a team effort. I am the chef. Yep. But I don’t do all the work. I train my crew to do my food my way. Without a good dishwasher I’d be sunk. SO I pass the praise around. When folks come up to congradulate me I summons the actual cook to listen, then I present him as the guy who actually made the food. The less of an egomaniac I am the better my staff works.

    Of course, someone has to take the blame- and the credit. The figurehead, leader, president, chef – whoever. In my restaurant everybody knows my name. When something goes south I need to chin-up and say it’s my fault because … it is. If I did my job of training correctly then thinks would have gone better.

    Doctors need nurses, radiologists, accountants. It’s a profuse web of humanity that makes anyhing we do work. Have you ever seen the credits at the end of a movie?

    Astronauts need ground control. Presidents need secretaries, and a whole slew of assistants and chiefs. I cannot think of anybody who is actually not a team player in some way. Sports is just a metaphor kids use to learn the necessity of relying on other people. And it’s fun. You’re a team player, Roger, or you wouldn’t be where you are.


    • Excellent points as always, Tom. When you see the follow up post on Sunday, you’ll see how much I agree. Except you said it better. *G* But at least I said it differently–and I wrote it earlier today before ever seeing your comment.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.