Back when I was in the 5th and 6th grade, I remember walking after school with a teammate to basketball practice; I still laugh when I think of all of us groaning as we “ran the lines.” I wasn’t a basketball all-star, but I participated. Moving into middle school, I didn’t make the A-team for basketball, but I did play in one varsity game that we won.
When I was a freshman, I decided I would go out for football; my mother was convinced I’d lost my mind. I’m sure she asked her self what 120-pound boy with no football experience starts playing football with Juniors and Seniors two and three times his size—thinking, “he’s going to get crushed?” Well, after a couple of weeks of practice, the coaches agreed with my mom, and that’s when I learned to tape ankles.
Over the course of the rest of my high school days, I was that kid. I attended athletic training camps, read books, and most importantly, I was part of the football team, the basketball team, and every other team in my school if there was an injury. I attended EMT school during my senior year in high school and started working on the ambulance a week after I graduated high school. I went to college on a full scholarship for athletic training, and I became an essential part of my college football and basketball teams.
I left college early to join the Navy, where I was a member of many large and small teams; after my time in the Navy, I joined the business world, where again, I was a member of many large and small teams.
Fast forward to today, some of my teams include, my family, healthcare providers, my associates, my business partners, and even my golf pro who gives me lessons.
Going back to that kid I walked to practice with? Well here’s a nugget of truth. We weren’t friends. I never really liked him and I’m sure that he didn’t necessarily care for me, and I had him on basketball teams and baseball teams throughout my elementary and middle school years. Outside of when we talked or worked with each other on our teams, we rarely coexisted. But we were on multiple teams together, and for those periods of time, even at our young age, we were able to look past our dislike of each other, and we cared about each other and the outcome of our teamwork. I’ve recognized this interesting dynamic; I don’t have to be friends or even particularly like every team member on teams that I belong to.
So I’ve been considering this dynamic as 2020 starts. My days as a 120-pound high school kid are well behind me. I have transitioning teams at work, a daughter leaving soon to college, health concerns in the family. My teams are essential and will only grow in importance this next year.
What is it about my need for teams, about my ability to have team members that I may not otherwise associate with? And what is there that I may learn about myself through involvement with teams, about my ability to look past differences for the greater good of my chosen teams and communities?
Could it be that when I belong to a team, my focus is on what I can change in or about myself to help the team be successful, rather than how others can change to make me feel better?
My New Year resolution is to focus more on what I can change and develop in myself to help my teams. We are all in this together, so let’s set differences aside and improve our own lives—I am convinced that focusing on self-improvement doesn’t just improve one’s self, but also has a profound and positive impact on one’s teams. Happy New Year!