Sacrifice and Teamwork

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” - Michael Jordan

Teamwork presents itself in many flavors and forms. Teamwork is the art of joining others in pursuit of a common goal. But it's not just joining. We don't join a team. We become a team. Becoming a team requires sacrifice. Michael Jordan's whole quote shows the connection:

“There are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and never win titles. Most of the time, those players aren't willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. The funny thing is, in the end, their unwillingness to sacrifice only makes individual goals more difficult to achieve. One thing I believe to the fullest is that if you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships." Michael Jordan

Great players don't win titles. Individual accomplishment shrinks when delivered by itself but it grows when sacrificed to a team. When any player clings to accolades and achievements for personal benefit above team benefit, both suffer. No person is an island.

This also has a poignant application to our recent economic struggles. Beginning in 2009, you heard many a commentator and business leader use the term "hunker-down." Conventional wisdom suggested organizations should save what they have and taking fewer risks out of fear and uncertainty. Today, people feel we're on the verge of the solution; the economic recovery may be just around the corner.  The answer was just getting consumers to wake up and spend more; increase consumption.  Consumerism is, after all, what makes our economy successful, correct?

But Michael Jordan's quote says nothing about consumption. A great player wins a title by sacrifice and contribution, not by either hoarding or consuming. Rather than hunkering-down, we should strategically invest in the future. That may mean more spending, but that spending should be on investing in people and organizations that have a chance of improving the community and the world. Purchase training, invest in your people. Or invest in your community by helping at a homeless shelter.

And consumption isn't the answer either.  Rather than deciding that you can finally afford that big-screen TV or new tablet or vacation, invest in some furniture for the local homeless shelter or medical clinic. Or sponsor a local unemployed networking group, or invest in training for unemployed people to re-enter the workforce!

We must address our economy and our quality of life as a team. If one groups' quality of life continues to grow while many others deteriorate, our culture will eventually fragment and die. Our teamwork needs to be focused on the goal of improving the quality of EVERY life in our communities. There is little teamwork in hoarding or consumption. There is great teamwork, reward and accomplishment in sacrifice and contribution. Our championships need to happen at the community level if we're going to make a positive difference.

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