A team like clockwork

As a former track and field athlete and coach, my favorite events were the sprint relays. It’s no accident that the 4×400 relay usually ends the meet. It underscores the idea that, despite many individual heroics, this is still fundamentally a team sport.

I think we can use a relay to visualize how a team works best:

  1. Each of us has a role and whether we’re the strongest or the weakest, we all need to be at our best to produce the results we want.
  2. Practice and teamwork are required for the handoff of the baton. It’s not enough to do our part alone; we need to give to the other in a way that sets him or her up for success.
  3. If there’s a misstep, it doesn’t really matter *who* messed up in the final analysis. (You won’t find out who dropped the baton in the scorer’s sheet, you’ll just see a “DQ” listed.) Instead, we need to analyze *why* it happened and address it.
  4. Watch the team when the final leg is being run. It’s about this individual effort, sure, but it’s also the culmination of hours of work. A track meet usually starts with field events when few are watching. But those points count just as much at the end. There’s a lesson that we need to do our best even when the spotlight isn’t shining.

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