Monday, December 13, 2004

The joy of being on a good team

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...

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are you absolutely sure that maybe your friend is a very loyal team player to another team that ACTUALLY had an important game that day. We do not live in a zero sum world. People can be loyal to more than one constituency at the same time and then have to choose which team is actually more under the gun and needs one's assistance.

Choice is what gives life meaning. Maybe your friend made the right choice regardless of what other people's arbitrary sense of urgency dictates.

Mojoey said...

What is that old saying? oh... "You cannot serve two masters"

jomama said...

Sounds like someone told you to 'pack your bags. You're
goin' on a guilt trip'...and you went for it...the
broken toe bit.

Now being habitually undependable...that's another
story.

Your NCO was right.

Your coach was an idiot.

Who are you?

Anonymous said...

I stopped putting my name up on my blog because I got a few death threats early on after posting about Islam and the radical Muslim stuff. The I offended some Christian group, and they started sending hate mail… So now, I use a cutout email service and I don’t post my real name.

But… It should be obvious that my name is Joe, so there you go. I picked up mojoey while working in France a few years ago. The French game me two nicknames, mojoey (I like), and growjoe (I hate). I grew up in East Lakewood, near Hawaiian Gardens, and I went to Artesia High School back in the 70’s.

I do carry some guilt over the broken toe thing. Later in life while playing softball, I broke my leg while running to home plate. I actually stayed for the rest of the game, and tried to take my next at bat, then drove myself to the hospital and underwent 4 hours of surgery to bolt my leg back together. I have a friggen scar two feet long on my right leg to remind me of my folly.

Anonymous said...

Insightful story Joe. I take the advice and comments you recieved whole-heartedly. I agree that loyalty to a team must be unwaivering. Each members contribution must be steadfast to maintain the team camradery and respect. Can you imagine if 1/2 way through a basketball season, Shaq said..."hey, I'm not going to show up to anymore games because I've contributed more points than any other player on the team". No way....he keeps playing hard day-in and day-out. Just the same as the tools that ride the bench all season long. Each member may contribute differently to the team, but their commitment must remain reliable.

BTW - when are we going to polish off that bottle of J├Ągermeister at Pete's house?

Mike