Sports, And What We Learn About Life

Sports, And What We Learn About Life

OK, I must admit up front that I am indeed an OWG. That would be an old white guy to all not utilizing current abbreviations while texting. This is not to be confused with OMG, BTW. The reason I point this out is that the era when I participated in team sports was a long, long time ago and many things have changed. Many more trophies and everyone plays. But over the nearly four decades that have passed since I laced them up, strapped on the pads or used pine tar in the on-deck circle, the core values of team sports remain.

Teamwork is as overused as “think outside the box”, “synergy”, “right-sizing” and “monetization” in today’s business world. But what does teamwork actually mean? According to The Merriam-Webster folks, its “work done by a group acting together so that each member does a part that contributes to the efficiency of the whole.” Kinda dry, as I feel strongly that there is much more to teamwork than that. Indeed, the job search website goes a bit further. “Teamwork is a talent that you may hone with consistent practice. It refers to your capacity to collaborate effectively with others to reach a shared objective.” There is the magic word, collaboration.

To effectively collaborate, everyone on the team must share a collective vision. Where do we want to go and what does it look like when we get there? And the big question; Why? Why are we doing this? What is the true golden benefit to be earned here? Why is it important that we achieve this? Sounds simple, right?

True teamwork and collaboration bring together a diverse array of talents and viewpoints. The team is a collection of individuals who despite their differences, strive together to achieve a common vision. Their individual strengths are developed while their differences are lessened in pursuit of the goal. Should a slugger bunt when asked? Yes. It is called a sacrifice for a reason. The hitter is giving up an opportunity to gain increased notoriety to help the greater effort. They helped the team succeed. In basketball, should a point guard famous for raining three-pointers from “downtown” stand in the lane to take a charge from a player much taller and heavier than themselves? Sure. It’s known as taking one for the team.

So how does this apply to our lives, in our communities? The answer is simple but extremely hard to accomplish. Put your ego in your pocket. If you serve on any team, board, commission, group or organization whose goal is the betterment of this community, I have some pointed language. It’s not about you. It’s about us. You may be a CEO, COO, MBA, PhD, or a VIP. Senior VP, Regional President or a Grand Poohbah. If you’re on a team whose vision involves your neighbors and friends, be one. Metaphorically, if ditches need dug, pick up a shovel. If anything needs to be built, grab a hammer. If time (life’s most precious commodity) is needed, show up and help. Teamwork doesn’t happen in silos. It doesn’t happen in gated communities or fenced in corporations. It happens in parks, in the streets and at celebrations throughout Otsego County. It happens at tables where sleeves are rolled up and badges with your position upon them are in your pockets. And it happens where egos are checked at the door. What can be accomplished with this type of teamwork? Almost anything.

So now that I have possibly offended some readers, I am going to request your help. We have issues to tackle in this community. Affordable childcare, population stagnation and decline, and infrastructure to facilitate housing growth, new business investment that brings more jobs and better broadband internet and cellular service throughout the entire county. (Morris, I hear you!). We need better communication between government, business and our residents. And in the end, we need a collective vision to serve as our North Star. A goal we can agree upon. And then, let’s do it together.

This will not be a full benefit for us. Whatever we work towards must be part of a long-term strategy that betters the lives of our children, their children and generations to come. Working only as individuals and stand-alone groups, this county will not succeed. Together, as a true team, we would be nearly unstoppable. Who wants to join me?



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