This week I had the privilege of experiencing two tremendous demonstrations of teamwork — one in basketball, and the other in a music theatre production.
As I reported last week, I am a University of Kansas (KU) basketball fan. And my family and I enjoyed the experience of watching the game together this past Monday night. “Enjoyed” may not be the right word, at least not for the whole game, but the result created a magnificent celebration in our home. (It was one of those — this doesn’t happen very often in life so let’s enjoy it to the fullest!)
While much of the media attention has been on the shot made by Mario Chalmers in the last two seconds of regulation time (for those who don’t follow basketball, he made a long shot to tie the game and send it into overtime), but obviously the win was created by both a whole team effort and a series of events by a variety of team members. The combined defensive play on Memphis’ outstanding guards by Russell Robinson, Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers, Sherron Collison allowed KU to stay close throughout the game. Darrell Arthur’s game leading 20 points, along with the inside play of Sasha Kahn, Darnell Jackson and Cole Aldrich wore down the big men of Memphis to the point of exhaustion. The steals by Mario and Sherron down the stretch provided the opportunity to score and catch up at the end of regulation. And obviously, the coaching by Bill Self and his staff gave the players the instruction and guidance they used to build and regain the lead.
In spite of Chalmers’ amazing shot at the end, the emphasis all year has been on the balance of the Kansas team in scoring, in rebounding, and in leadership in various games. The season and the championship game were a prime example of how excellent teamwork leads to success. (Since this is such a discussed topic in the mainstream media I won’t expand further here.)
But let me turn to a less well-known example – the production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat by the high school which my daughter attends. The school is relatively small (about 285 students) and there were 50+ high school students (plus about 20 elementary school students) in the production. What was amazing to me, as I watched the production “come together” over the past week, was the intricate synthesizing of numerous pieces into a unified amazing production. For weeks, the music department has been practicing the songs, the drama instructor has been “blocking” the scenes, the choreographer fashioned the dance steps and taught the chorus, costume designers created and made numerous costumes, while artists constructed the sets and scenery. Then in the last week, the “tech team” kicked into high gear — creating the lighting schemes and figuring out the sound systems. And then the drama and music directors integrated all of the pieces and players — with increasing polish each night — into a wonderful mutisensory experience of music, color and light, dance, humor.
Both of these events were sources of joy to me (and others). And they were the results of countless hours of practice (not only in preparation for these specific events, but in the development of skills over the years) of both individuals and groups of people into the resulting product. And the comments by observers were the same: “Amazing!” “WOW!” “Can you believe it?” “Incredible.” “Outstanding.” “A once in a lifetime experience.”
The power of teamwork can be amazing — the culmination and synthesis of individual talent and skill, combined with creative and dynamic leadership, along with each team member being willing to follow directions and do their part, putting the purpose & goal of the team unit ahead of individual glory. And, interestingly, the glory which returns to the individual from being a part of the team, is greater than the person could have accomplished on their own.
Just ask Mario Chalmers.