I spoke to a friend today about what it means to part of a team, not a team in the rah-rah sense of the word, but a team that you would trust with your back when times were hard. I do not think he got it, at least he did not seem to.
I’ve been involved with many different jobs over the course of my career. Before I started working, I did a stint in the service, and before that, was a bit of a jock in high school. I learned what it means to be part of a team by being on a team. Some lessons were harder than others were. Once, when I was in High School, I broke a toe right at the end of basketball season, I opted to skip the last game and go out with my girlfriend, instead of setting with my team as they lost a close game to a hated rival. I did not think much of it while I was out having fun, but the next week at school, my team let me know they were disappointed. That was nothing compared to the coach. He told me that leadership on the bench is as important to a team as as leadership from the court, and that I had not shown very good leadership skills by missing the last game. I had let my team down. Of course, there was nothing I could do about it after the fact, except learn from my mistake, and I did learn. Today, I don’t care if I have a broken leg, or other valid excuses for missing the “game”, I always show up, even if I know I’m not going to play.
I was a good all around player on my basketball team. I contributed a lot of points, hustled, rebounded, and tried to do my very best for four years. I even won a few awards along the way, but when I meet my former teammates today, I am sure to hear about the game I missed. It sucks really…. At our high school awards ceremony, The Coach said of me, “Joe was one of the best pure shooters I have ever coached, too bad he missed the last game, we could have really used him”. It is hard to forget a lesson like that, I think about it often.
I had the same kind of thing happen in the service. I was chronically late for my shift, sometimes by as much as half an hour. My NCO busted my ass hard, and told me something I will never forget, he said, “arriving late shows disrespect to the man you are relieving, how do you expect these guys to watch your back if you don’t respect them?” He was right of course, then he game me thirty days in the stockade and made me cut a whole bunch of grass. I was never late again. Being on-time translated well to my work life today. I try my hardest not to show my teammates any disrespect by showing up on time for work and for meetings. I’m not perfect, but I do pretty good. It is amazing what 30 days with bubba in a smelly jail cell will do for you.
Oh, one last thing, I still hate cutting grass...