The Starting Point for All Good Teams – A Spirit of Collaboration (with a lesson from Sports Night)

part of the Sports Night Team
part of the Sports Night Team

I think, as a New Year’s resolution, you should re-dedicate yourself to the idea that this is a team.  You play for a team.  A team with many players.
See a team’s made up of a group of individuals —
Individuals who forsake their own individual needs to pursue a common goal.  The team goal.  In our case —
In our case the goal’s a nightly national television show.
Dan Rydell, to an obstinate Casey, from Sports Night (episode: “The Six Southern Gentlemen of Tennessee.” Read the script here).


Everywhere you look these days, community is being turned into some kind of polarized competition. You know: “My side is better than your side; my views are better than your views (in fact, your views are not at all even legitimate); my ways are better than your ways.”

There is a new tool for neighborhoods called Nextdoor. There is an active Nextdoor group in our neighborhood. It is an e-mail/web based community interaction tool. I think the idea was to recommend workers and ideas to improve the homes in the neighborhood and the neighborhood itself. But, we live in such an argumentative, polarized time that ugliness abounds, even on Nextdoor. People are complaining, arguing. I’m pretty much disengaging.

collaborative-habitWhere did we get the idea that argumentative polarization is the way forward? I go back to the terrific book by Twyla Tharp, The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together. Here’s a key excerpt:

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
I define collaboration as people working together – sometimes by choice, sometimes not. Sometimes we collaborate to jump-start creativity; other times the focus is simply on getting things done. In each case, people in a good collaboration accomplish more than the group’s most talented members could achieve on their own.

I think we should all embrace collaboration – at work, in our neighborhoods, in our families. Everywhere we interact, let’s learn to start off with a desire to collaborate. It beats the starting point of “I’m going to beat you/I’m going to win…”  

And, maybe, one step we could all take is the step to follow the ancient advice: “if you can’t say something nice…” Working together does require giving up some of what I/we want to pursue the goal of the common good. That’s part of what makes a team a team.


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