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What Does it Mean to be a Team?

 

What is a team?

Most people would describe a team as something that would resemble their high school football team. They aren’t wrong, however, teams also look like the group of people you work with, the committee of people you volunteer with, or any group of people working together toward one goal. For students, that might mean their speech team or people they’re working with on a project or anything along those lines. However we define a team, the reality is that most of us cannot avoid teamwork, regardless of age. This makes the ability to work as a team a valuable skill to have.

Why be part of a team?

Have you or your child ever struggled in a team setting? Maybe they had a hard time finding a role they could fill on their soccer team when they were five. Maybe they clashed with a coach. Maybe they preferred working alone on projects or got frustrated when the whole group wasn’t sharing an equal workload. These are difficult complications of teamwork. It makes us want to give up, quit, or just do the whole project ourselves so we don’t have to fuss over anyone else. But, what if the most important part of teamwork is that push and pull? What if even more than the grade or winning or outcome, coming up against the challenges of teamwork was the most important thing about working together?

There are a lot of advantages to succeeding alone: set your own goals, plan it out yourself, no need to coordinate schedules, the burden of success or failure is all your own. Working in a group setting comes with a whole new layer of responsibility, struggle, and balance. Through that layer of complication, we have to learn to work with and alongside people we don’t like, don’t agree with, and don’t really want to work with. Evenmoreso, we win or lose with those people. There is no other setting we can, with others, learn to celebrate our success and mourn our loss than in some form of teamwork.

Losing, in particular, is hard. When we lose as a team, we try to find who to blame:

“I should have played more; we would have won.”

“I should have been in charge of designing our project. We would have gotten a better grade.”

“She’s terrible at drawing. I don’t know why they let her do it and not me.”

“Had I been in charge, things would have turned out better.”

“He is a terrible boss. I should have gotten that promotion. I would do a better job.”

None of these thoughts are original. We all try to figure what went wrong, why we lost, or whose fault it was. It’s normal. It is hard to be judged as an entity, especially if you don’t get to pick who else is in that group, instead of as an individual. When we are judged or measured as an individual, we have control over that. We are able to control ourselves and, therefore, the outcome. If nothing else when we fail on our own, we know whose fault it is.

When we lose as a team, we have to accept the unknown. We have to realize some things are out of our control. We have to realize that even though we tried our best, some things might not go our way, we might not get the recognition we deserve, and we might be blamed for things that weren’t our fault. Even as adults, this is something we have to deal with. Maybe we work with a team at our place of employment and one team member slows down progress or maybe we don’t like a colleague who doesn’t pull their weight around the office. Whatever the case, regardless of age, teamwork is not going away so we might as well have the skills to navigate that reality.

Guess how to gain and improve that skill set needed to navigate teamwork? Yep, you have to work as a team.

Are there benefits to being part of a team?

Of course, there are benefits to working as a team. The idea of teamwork is a great solution when a project is too big for one person, when a sport can’t be played with only one participant, when more can be accomplished more quickly with multiple people, etc. However, the biggest benefit of working in a group is just learning how to do that, is just the act of working together regardless of all other variables. Whether it be a tennis team, golf team, football team, speech team, robotics team, or team at work, there is value in the experience of working together. Win together, lose together, but most of all, try together.

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

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Hannah Nichols
Marketing and PR
Maharishi School
hnichols@msae.edu
Fairfield, IA 52556

Failure Breeds Success

Success and Failure

Let’s look at success holistically, rather than the ultimate and exclusive goal for our kids. What does it mean to be successful? At Maharishi School, we would argue that success is often measured in the moments surrounding failure. When failure occurs, what happened right before and right after that event? Moments before we failed, did we do everything we possibly could have to have the best likelihood of reaching our goals? In the moments after failure, could we tell what went wrong, did we learn anything, does this event spur us on to a bigger goal? The answers to these questions decide whether failure is something that squashes us, our passion, and our drive -or- leads us to a deeper, more thorough, and longer lasting understanding of ourselves, our goals, and our passions.

Read below to see how Maharishi School’s Robotics stood in the face of failure…and found success.

Small Failuresby Carol Chesnutt, Director of Enrollment Management

Perhaps I was standing too close when I overhead the phone calls in Maharishi School’s Central Office.

“Fei Hung is missing from school today.”

“Is Steve at home sick today?”

“Tom didn’t show up for school today. (pause) Is Tom on the same robotics team with Fei and Steve?”

I’ll admit I was a bit giddy when I heard that Fei and her 2 robotics teammates were “home sick” 2 days before the state robotics competition. Software updates had created havoc with their robot. The students weren’t home with a fever: they were scrambling to fix the problem.

Why did their tense situation give me a thrill? My first 20+ year career was in management consulting helping large corporations either fix complex problems or innovate their business. Clients paid high fees and expected results in a compressed timeline. The most successful consultants never grimaced at a tight timeline and didn’t shrink when the project came up against obstacles – which happened regularly. They dug in and worked the problem. When I see students digging in, I know they’re learning and developing ‘grit’ in a relatively low-risk environment.

“Small failures, when the stakes are relatively low and the potential for emotional and cognitive growth is high, are what psychologists Elizabeth and Robert Bjork call ‘desirable difficulties.’ Learning that comes with challenge is stored more effectively and more durably in the brain than learning that comes easily.” Jessica Lahey

Teachers at Maharishi School embrace difficulties and small failures. Learning from failures not only ‘sticks’ better, it creates resiliency and humility – desirable traits for students and management consultants alike.

By the way, the state robotics competition didn’t go well for Fei, Steve, and Tom. The software issues never got resolved. But without question, I’d hire any of those 3 kids for a consulting team.

The Future of Failure

robotics

We have complete faith these kids will go far in whatever education or career path they choose. No one doubts that. When failure came their way, their end goals suddenly were even closer to their grasps. Did they win a robotics competition? No, but they did learn a real-world lesson: stuff goes wrong, sometimes that is out of your control regardless of how hard you work or how well prepared you are, you’re just going to have to deal with that. Inevitably, these students learned that lesson better through their failure than if anyone had tried to explain that to them. The future of their failure is success.

 

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

To learn more about school events and student life, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hannah Nichols
Marketing and PR
Maharishi School
hnichols@msae.edu
Fairfield, IA 52556