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Fundamental 1: Teamwork

Reinhardt University W. Soccer AAC Champions Best record in school history First national ranking #25.

Mar 15, 2015

Teamwork is a popular word. It is popular because the concept has proven value and partially because as humans, we are social beings. It allows us to maximize our potential as a group. The internet is full of definitions for teamwork and I think many organizations have a tough time understanding the concept. Here is one of the first definitions found in a Google search:

"work done by several associates with each doing a part but all subordinating personal prominence to the efficiency of the whole."

It sounds intelligent, but what does it mean? Nothing. That definition means nothing to me. It's indirect and uninspiring and there are countless definitions similar to it. People understand the power teamwork contains by witnessing 'Cinderella' teams or experiencing it for themselves. They are in constant search of ways to utilize teamwork within their organization. The difficult part is defining and implementing the concept. Our answer is this:

"Teamwork is placing the welfare of the team and teammate before yourself in every decision you make on and off the field. Understanding your decisions affect everyone."

That's it. It's that simple. Making an individual decision to do such is called commitment and is a separate concept from teamwork. To get an individual to commit you must show the benefit of the concept being committed to. This can be difficult for corporations dependent on their reward structure. With athletics it's easy. We want to win. We want to win it all and be the best. Once teammates are in a mindset of supporting each other, that energy can be focused through team philosophy and goals established by leadership.

In the Navy SEAL Teams, while moving through an enemy area we would constantly ask ourselves, "How can I best support my teammate? If someone were to shoot at us right now what will I do to support my buddy?" This is taught in training and this is how a team works most efficiently. There is no reason to complicate the concept with indirectness and fancy words. The second part of the concept is understanding that our decisions affect everyone on the team. If you decide to let your grades slip or get in trouble with the law and find yourself suspended, you have not just affected your own career but everyone's. Your ineligibiliy directly affects your team's success which could also affect the inidvidual success and career advancement of your teammates.

A sometimes overlooked benefit of the teamwork mindset (How can I best support my buddy) is anxiety control. We all get anxious at times and have various ways of dealing with it. Most of our anxiety comes from concern for our own performance. If we are thinking about supporting our buddy, we are not thinking about ourselves. Instead of being worried about making a mistake, we are thinking about how we will produce a positive action for our buddy. Think about it like this - I'm playing shortstop and I think "I hope I make this play" vs. "I am going to give my second baseman a perfect feed and turn two." Our mental state is not usually an anxious one when we are concerned for others. Our thoughts lead to belief and beliefs lead to action. Through our repetitive preparation our body knows what to do. Anxiety interferes and usually arises out of self concern. We must focus our concern to the well being of our teammates. This is the mindset of teamwork. This is the mindset of winners. It is the mindset that drives Navy SEALs. It is a mindset that builds individual character and as a team... it will take you to the next level. Where do you want to go? "It Pays to be a Winner"

Jason is a former Navy SEAL and D1 baseball player.


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