“There’s no ‘I’ in Team – but there’s an ‘I’ in Win.”

Striving for individual achievement gets a bad rap. Whether work, home, or sports, it seems like everyone is always preaching teamwork.

Don’t get me wrong, teamwork is important and certainly applies to plenty of situations across our lives. I’ve loved running as a team for Ainsley’s Angels and I’ve also enjoyed advantages of having a running training partner for events.

This week’s entry inspired by THE Danica Patrick

However, I feel like the message of individual responsibility and hard work gets lost with all the focus on teamwork. I’m concerned it creates a dangerous mentality of, if you’re part of a strong team, you can slack off but still reap the rewards of everyone else’s hard work.

My belief is that a team functions at its best only when every individual on the team is committed to his or her best. In order to do this, we need to shift focus on the importance, not of relying on a team, but of each individual pulling his or her own weight, contributing at their highest level, and striving to be their best.

I was thinking about this recently and then thought about how it applies to some key areas in life.

At home, a marriage is a team. But if both spouses aren’t committed to putting in 100% of themselves, the marriage is going to be in trouble. It still might be okay but it won’t be its best.

At work, a group project is a team. But if every person isn’t committed to putting in their share of the work, the end result isn’t going to be great. It still might be decent but it won’t be its best.

A sports team is, well, a team (it’s right there in the name). But if every person, whether the pitcher, an offensive lineman, the relay anchor, or the goalie isn’t working his or her ass off and putting in every bit of effort, the team won’t hit its potential. It still might be good but it won’t be its best.

Are there situations where one person can slack off and ride the success of the team? Of course. But that’s the problem. It teaches people they don’t have to work hard to take the glory. It teaches people they can claim credit for something they didn’t earn. It teaches people that, rather than rely on others, they can mooch off others.

That’s not a message I want for my coworkers, my husband, or, especially, my son.

Now, being quick to take solo credit for something that’s a team effort or shine a spotlight on oneself for the sake of being a glory hog isn’t what I’m talking about. That’s selfish and arrogant, plain and simple.

What I’m saying is there’s nothing wrong with setting big goals and challenging yourself to be great – then celebrating and feeling good about those achievements. We’re so often taught that being humble is a good thing and pride is a bad thing, and I think that’s a big part of where the concepts of “teamwork” and “team effort” comes.

There’s a term called, “humble brag” and it exists for a reason. You don’t have to be humble all the time. You can absolutely be proud and brag. Just strike a balance between the two.

p.s. the quote that kicked off this blog comes courtesy of the cool and badass @DanicaPatrick. I had the opportunity to hear her speak at an event last month and, while a lot of what she said resonated with me, that one line was something I knew would someday be a perfect blog tie-in. I feel like she and I would get along swell IRL. Thanks, Danica!

Where do you stand on my push for encouraging individual effort instead of always focusing on teamwork? Comment or tweet me, @LindsayIRL.


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