Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Labor of Love II

Sorry for the gap since my last post.  The stars aligned in such a way that last Wednesday was the busiest day of the year for both jobs.  I delivered 2 complete sets of papers to most of my weekend customers between 10:00 PM-1:00 AM Wednesday into Thursday then again from 5:00 AM - 8:00 AM Thanksgiving morning.  Also, I spent 14+ hours (each day) in the car picking up and bringing back my son to college last Tuesday and this past Sunday.  The weather and the traffic did not cooperate for either trip.  Needless to say, while Thanksgiving was very nice, both from the standpoint of the wonderful meal and company, I was much too tired to really enjoy it.  It is clear that I need to replace the newspaper gig for something which requires fewer hours.  Hopefully the new year will bring me this opportunity.

I did manage to appreciate the unseasonably warm weather we have experienced this past week.  I believe the temp may have reached 70 degrees one day.  Certainly we had upper 60 degrees for a bunch of days in a row.  Nature also gave us some spectacular sunsets during that streak of warm weather.

My last blog touched on the need for more of us to enjoy our work.  To find meaning in it even if it is below our abilities or is routine in its nature.  Part two of this discussion concerns teamwork. 

I will be the first to admit that I work best alone.  I generally feel that I get more accomplished when I don't have to explain or share a task with another.  Fortunately, my years of working have helped me to improve my ability to both work with others and manage a group in a way that creates a team  atmosphere.  While I can easily revert back to my solitary ways, I do feel that when properly focused I can mesh the variety of skills of each member of a team to create results that exceed what each person might be able to accomplish on their own.  I also, grudgingly, am able to be a member of a team when I am not the leader, although, again, it is a trait that I am far from mastering.

This concept of teamwork is trumpeted far and wide by all types of entities, be it corporations, sports teams, families or even couples.  Yet I am beginning to wonder if there are times when our spirit of American individualism gets in the way of taking full advantage of the power of a true team attitude. 

The easiest example is in the area of sports.  So often fans clamor for the best talent and owners pay huge sums of money to acquire that talent.  Then, at the end of the season, it is very rare for the team with the best players to win the championship.  Each player may be the best, or one of the best at his position, but together the group is unable to set aside their individual needs for big stats and glory and do what it takes to advance the team.  Do you need talent to win in sports?  Of course.  But there is more to it than swinging the best bat or throwing the tightest spiral or throwing down the mightiest dunk.  The really great players make those around them better in addition to displaying their exceptional talents.  The really great managers can take advantage of each players skills while hiding their weaknesses to create a team that excels even with less talent.  And, to me, most importantly, the average players or role players if you will, know their place on the team and play the game within their skill level.  They understand that the team needs each of them to succeed and that it is each players contribution that adds up to that success.  The team becomes more than the sum of its parts. 

The other obvious example is the recent failure of the super committee to provide a framework for spending and debt reduction.  In that case, the team members, all intelligent, seemingly concerned men and women who knew the importance of their task, achieved far less as a team.  They were less than the sum of their parts.  It seems that this scenario is a perfect description of how our elected officials have performed in recent years.  As I have said before, perhaps we need a new bunch of players in this arena.

Lastly, we have the current 99% to 1% demonstrations that have been the focus of the Occupy... groups.  I hear and understand criticism of this movement which reminds the Occupy protesters that we don't want to vilify the super rich of this country just because they are successful.  Being rich should not be a scarlet letter.  Capitalism, for all its faults, is still the best economic system for providing opportunity and upward mobility.  Perhaps then, one of the points of Occupy... should be the team concept.  Sure, those making the BIG decisions, those with the BIG ideas, those with the BIG ambition that create new industries, should be rewarded.  But so too should those doing the actual work!  If the idea is for the team to succeed, team in this case being defined as the American economy, then we all need to contribute and we all need to experience the rewards.  When a sports team wins the big game, do all the players get a ring or a chance to skate around with the Cup?  Yes!  They are rewarded as a team.  Perhaps our message to the 1% should remind them that we all need to be rewarded for our hard work and effort because without the contributions of EVERY member of the team, in the end, no one will win.   

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