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.
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