Individual, Team, or Both?

In an interview long ago, I was asked if competitive gymnastics, a sport I practiced for ten years, was a team sport or an individual sport. Admittedly, the question came as a surprise and it required some thought, simply because I had never encountered it. After pausing to think, it occurred to me it was both. The same conclusion can be drawn when replacing gymnastics with the company by which you are a part of.

In sports, the team trains together, overcomes challenges and failures together, and celebrates small and large victories together. Yet, if members of the team are not internally driven to accomplish goals, personally and collectively, the team becomes incrementally weaker. When personal goals are set and accomplished, momentum and good vibes trickle back to the team.

In the case of gymnastics, one may be fabulous on two events, another not stellar on any particular event but consistent and reliable all around. It takes a variety of personalities and skill sets to fuel a solid team. Let us not forget how valuable the one who is always encouraging and motivational, regardless of the teammate or the group’s state of mind. Finishing above the competition requires each varying component, and leveraging the synergies of diversity.

[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”Angela Fruits” link=”” color=”#C0E86C” class=”” size=””]In the case of gymnastics, one may be fabulous on two events, another not stellar on any particular event but consistent and reliable all around. It takes a variety of personalities and skill sets to fuel a solid team.[/perfectpullquote]

The coach: a key member of the team that we might take for granted. There may be assistants or team captains who lead silently and serve as supporting pillars to the team. However, each team needs a hunter who consistently has their eyes on the prize, who persistently pursues the final victory. Amidst adversity and small wins, the coach pursues the final victory with an intention to each step along the way. Without this unifying figure, a team may lose its purpose and individuals may feel discouraged.

In a company, whether it is a start-up or a Fortune 500 company, success stems from the team’s effort toward a common goal. Individual accomplishment and motivation fuels the success of the team. The coach acts as a fearless leader and continues to beat the drum toward that goal. Without individual efforts toward a common goal, a job will always be “just a job”. As individual contributors to our company’s success, we must embrace and apply our strengths with conviction while ultimately taking ownership in a first-place finish for the team.

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