Teamwork is Hard Work Written By Renee Ferguson
As I am at work today trying to plan the going away parties for 2 staff members, I’m reminded of an article I read not too long ago titled, “Working as a Team—Tough…But Essential” by Dan Oswald. This article was not remembered so much because of the content, but because I am currently in the middle of a tough situation which would be made so much easier by the simple cooperation of another member of our team. I won’t get into it here but let’s just say what we are working on is one of simplest things (in my mind anyway) that we have to do here and yet, today it has completely frustrated me because I don’t understand how something so simple can be so darn hard.
When working together as a team, everyone should be working toward a common goal or goals, right? While these goals should be the very thing that pulls us together to get things done, they sometimes seem to be the very thing that pulls us apart at the seams. I am often baffled as to how this happens. How is the one thing that is supposed to unite us end up tearing a team apart? I’m sure you have heard the age old saying, “There is no I in team” before, right? Well, have you heard the come back to this statement,(I’m sure made up by some snotty kid who thought they were better than everyone else) “There may not be an I in team but there is a ME”? In the world that we live in today, that includes immediate gratification that is so high on people’s lists; this should be an expected response. Long gone are the days of self-sacrifice for the good of the group or the game.
I initially encountered this during my first year coaching select softball. I had a parent write me a 7 page legal size letter front and back basically telling me what a bad coach I was because I had his daughter at short stop- and in his eyes she was NO short stop. Honestly in my eyes she was no short stop either, but I needed her to play there to give our team the best chance to win. With the recent increase in the number of select softball teams in this area, recruiting position players can sometimes be challenging and in some cases you just get what you get in regards to player’s talent and position capabilities. This was my first “encounter” with a parent who didn’t realize that having his daughter at short gave our team the best chance to win. His focus was on his child and developing her long term skills at a position he felt she would most likely be playing in the future.
I tried to read his letter with as much 3rd party incites as possible and I’ll be honest, it still ticked me off. He went as far as to tell me what body type should play what positions etc. I was just plain mad; I mean if he questioned me like this, how did he ever expect his daughter to buy into what I was selling? I was trying to teach her that sometimes you have to do what’s best for the team even if it’s not best for you individually. As I look back, I really think he was trying to help me be a better coach by pointing out things he wasn’t sure I was aware of. Much of that went unappreciated, honestly until right now as I write this. I was too busy trying to prove him wrong to see the good intentions that were really behind his letter. And this is really the reason teamwork is so darn hard. At some point someone HAS to be wrong, and let’s face it, no one likes to be WRONG.
What I have learned over the last few years is that if you are really all working towards a common goal, is anyone every really wrong? Think about it this way, if a pitcher throws a perfect rise ball on the inside corner at the batters hands and it does everything is supposed to do but the batter hits it over the fence, is it any less of a good pitch? No, it was still a great pitch but in this case the batter did their job and made good contact. Isn’t this in fact what we are all trying to accomplish everyday in our efforts to meet our team goals? We are all out there, in essence, trying to throw the best rise ball we can but the possibility always remains that no matter how good we throw it there is always the possibility of someone coming along and knocking our pitch (idea) right over the centerfield fence. If and when that happens it doesn’t mean that your idea is bad or any less valid it just means that after throwing it someone hit the crap out of it.
So what would you do in a game? Would you talk about how they cheated or how your pitch was somehow picked off by the opposite team or would you say, “Ah, she got me this time but that’s ok I’ll see her again later in the game.”? One thing I cannot stress to you enough is to follow the acronym QTIP and Quit Taking It Personally. Realize that you are on the same team and even though it may appear that you got bested this time there will always be another opportunity for you to showcase your skills and who knows it might just be the day you knock their socks off. Another thing to remember is that regardless who the perceived winner is in this case the real winner is the team because they will have met their goal as planned. Feeling that you have the best idea out there is human nature but being able to step back and realize that sometimes in the grand scheme of things, you might serve the team the best by playing shortstop today is truly priceless.
Renee Ferguson Renee has over 30 years of combined playing and coaching experience at the select and college levels. After a 3 year stint as Division I, Morgan State University’s pitching coach; Renee was appointed the Head Women’s softball Coaching position at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland. Where she lead the Pioneer Softball team to an 8th place finish, in the NJCAA DIII Nationals in Rochester MN after taking the helm only weeks before the 2013 season started. Renee’s goal is to instill the love and passion that she has for the game, into each and every one of her players and students.
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