Whether in sports or in business, teamwork wins the championship

Once upon a time there was an enterprising businessman who had a fantastic idea. He thought he found a way to build the perfect car.

He hired a team of young engineers and asked them to buy one of every model car in the world and disassemble it, pick the best of each car and put it in a special room. Soon the room was filled with parts – the best carburetor, brakes, steering wheel, gearbox and so on. It was an impressive collection, more than 5,000 pieces in all.

Then the merchant had all the parts assembled into an automobile. There was just one problem: the car wouldn’t work – the parts wouldn’t fit together.

The point is, you can have a team of superior, individualistic all-stars, but they’re no match for a group of people with a common purpose and harmony.

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

Teamwork sometimes requires people to play roles that aren’t as glamorous as they’d like.

There is the story of the symphony conductor who was asked which instrument was the most difficult to play. Without missing a beat, the conductor replied, “Second fiddle. I can find many first fiddlers. But finding someone who can play second fiddle with enthusiasm is a real problem. If we don’t have second fiddle, we don’t have one Harmony.”

Teamwork is unknowingly avoided by most business people because deep down they are afraid of it. They believe that this will make them anonymous or invisible.

Nothing is further from the truth.

That’s why in sports, it’s not usually the team with the most superstars that wins championships. From the late ’50s to the mid-’70s, the Boston Celtics won 13 NBA championships without having the league’s top scorer. They did it with phenomenal teamwork. The leader of the Celtics during this period was Bill Russell, who recently died. Russell was a team first player but was voted the greatest player in NBA history by basketball writers in 1980.

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

This advice goes far beyond the field of sports. Your business either works as a team or it takes a shower.

American industry became world leaders when it developed the assembly line, a concept that still works, combining human and robotic capabilities. Collaboration 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 in Austria there was a custom that helped villagers estimate the future happiness of a newly married couple. After the wedding ceremony at a 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-handled saw and asked them to use it to cut the tree down. With the bride at one end of the saw and the groom at the other, the villagers watched as the young couple sawed through the tree.

The closer the cooperation between man and woman, the shorter it takes for the tree to fall. And the older villagers wisely argued that the shorter the time, the happier the young couple would be – for they had learned that the most valuable of all marital lessons is teamwork!

Mackay’s morale: Don’t strive to be the best on The team. Strive to be the best to the The team.

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

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