In sports or business, teamwork wins

Once upon a time, there lived an enterprising businessman who came up with a fantastic idea. He thought he had found a way to build the perfect car.

He hired a team of young engineers and ordered them to buy one of every car model in the world and disassemble them, selecting the best parts of each car and placing them in a special room. Soon the room was filled with parts—the best carburetor, the best brakes, the best steering, transmission, and more. It was an impressive collection, totaling over 5,000 pieces.

Then the businessman assembled all the parts into one car. There was just one problem: the machine didn’t work—the parts didn’t work together.

The thing is, you can have a team of the best all-star mavericks, but they are no match for a group of people with a common purpose and harmony.

My definition of teamwork is a collection of diverse people who respect each other and are committed to each other’s success.

Teamwork sometimes requires people to play roles that are not as glamorous as they would like.

There is a story about a symphony conductor who was asked which instrument was the most difficult to play. The conductor, without missing a beat, answered: “Second violin. I can find many early violins. But finding someone who can enthusiastically play second fiddle is a real challenge. When we don’t have second fiddle, we don’t have harmony.”

Most business people unwittingly avoid teamwork because deep down they fear it. They think it will make them anonymous or invisible.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

That’s why in sports, the team with the most superstars usually doesn’t win championships. From the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, the Boston Celtics won 13 NBA championships without the league’s leading scorer. They achieved this through phenomenal teamwork. The leader of the Celtics in that era was Bill Russell, who recently passed away. Russell was the team’s first player, but in 1980 basketball journalists voted him the best player in NBA history.

The player considered by many to be the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), Michael Jordan, said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

This advice extends far beyond the sports arena. Your company is either functioning as a team or in the shower.

American industry became a world leader when it introduced the assembly line, a concept that still works today, combining human and robotic capabilities. Working together is critical to success, and that hasn’t changed over the years.

There is no better example of teamwork than a good marriage. Many years ago, there was a custom in Austria that helped the peasants estimate the future happiness of newlyweds. After the wedding ceremony in the local church, the villagers escorted the bride and groom to a nearby forest and placed them in front of a large tree, where they handed the couple a two-handed saw and asked them to cut the tree down. With the bride on one end of the saw and the groom on the other, the villagers watched as the young couple sawed the tree.

The closer the cooperation between husband and wife, the less time it took for the Christmas tree to fly. And the older peasants wisely reasoned that the less time, the happier the young couple would be – because they understood that the most valuable of marital lessons is joint work!

McKay’s Moral: Don’t strive to be better on team. Strive to be the best for team.

Harvey McKay is a businessman from Minneapolis. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or by email at [email protected]

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