Sunday, November 12, 2006

Selfishness and Success

A lot of focus in the competitive world is placed on teamwork. We look at the successful franchise and remark on how well they work as a team, which must define their success. I believe that this is all bullshit. Teamwork is necessary for any group to achieve excellence, but there comes a point where it is imperative that you are selfish in order to allow the team to function. If you are unable to achieve individual excellence, your group cannot expect to achieve excellence as well.

Lance Armstrong won seven Tour de France titles behind the greatest team in the history of cycling. The New England Patriots are the benchmark for teamwork and selflessness. Microsoft has made gigantic profits by working as a unit with marketing, production, sales, etc. all in unison. What people forget to acknowledge is the fact that every person involved with these teams is selfish. Not that they think they are greater than the sum of the parts, but that they took care of themselves first. Once they became fully aware of who they were, and what their strengths and weaknesses were, then they could become an asset to the rest of the group. By looking inward and being selfish, they were able to find their role and excel in that role personally before offering that excellence to the rest of the group.

Teamwork alone does not create a dynasty. A bunch of “yes men” who tow the company line just to get through their day, so they can claim to be part of a successful group, is not successful. These groups can continue generating great paychecks and accumulating many wins, but they will never achieve true excellence. Excellence in a team environment happens when one makes a personal inventory first, fixes any flaws, and then encourages the rest of the group to do the same. When the people they have influenced finally generate the courage to do the same, they strengthen their spot in the organization, which, in turn, makes the team healthy and ready to achieve excellence.

Group excellence is a multi tiered process that goes as such:

Invest in yourself first (me first philosophy)
To truly achieve excellence you must be willing to be selfish. Understand yourself so that you can become an asset to your group.

Invest yourself in a role within the group
Know what your role is within the group, and make sure it is a role in which you can excel. Pick responsibilities that enhance your strengths and diminish your weaknesses, and be selfish enough to admit that you can’t do everything. Being a “team player” by accepting a challenge you can’t fulfill makes the team weaker and requires others to expend more effort to make up for your mistakes.

Invest your philosophies into the group
If you are working towards an end goal that you don’t believe in, you are taking the group down with your own agenda. If your philosophies don’t match your mission, be selfish and bow out. Exerting your efforts in something you are not attached to is a waste of everyone’s time.

Invest in the group
Know yourself, know your role, and believe in your mission. It isn’t until you are certain of these that you can actually make an impact on the rest of the group/team, and become a part of the success that will follow.

Group success starts with you. Until you take the initiative to create your own success, the rest of the group will never truly excel. Always remember that you can’t be a great teammate until you are a great individual; simply being a team player achieves nothing until you know what type of team player you actually are.

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