Finding the strength to succeed in teamwork

  • Published
  • By Dave Hansen
  • 309th Maintenance Support Group director
Working with the youth group at my church seems to keep me young. We just held the "Construction Olympics," a timed race consisting of laying out a square pad, driving nails and screws, and a 25-yard dash carrying cinder blocks.

Each of the 14- to 18-year-old youths raced for a personal best time, then decided racing in a relay form would result in better times. They divided the activities among themselves, according to abilities, and ran the relay.

Perhaps not surprisingly, they reduced their times by almost 50 percent. They still didn't beat the old man, but with age comes experience -- or at least a sore back the next morning.

So what does this have to do with Team Hill?

That's the answer: "Team" Hill.

We are part of this massive operation that is the Ogden Air Logistics Center -- maintainers, engineers, pilots, administration folks, personnel, and on and on. While some look at what we do daily as an individual endeavor, I suggest none can do it alone, nor should we. We truly are part of a team, and need to act as such. The American people expect much of us, and we deliver, but will perform better acting as a team.
In his book, "The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork," John C. Maxwell discusses Navy SEAL training.

Many consider the SEALs to be the elite among the elite that are special operations. Four weeks into their 30-week training is the infamous "Hell Week," 5 1/2 days of continuous training, with a mere total of four hours of sleep.

John Roat, one of the first through this training in 1962 wrote, "You can go farther than you ever thought possible, but you can't do it alone, and everyone left standing belongs there."

This week eliminates those who can't do what must be done and forges the rest into a team whose interaction is the very definition of teamwork. SEALs depend on each other at a level few can understand and may never experience. While most of us will never see the pressures the SEALs face, we learn from them the value of this team we're on.

Maybe you've heard the sappy "there's no 'I' in team," but I disagree. I think we need to look at ourselves first when evaluating our teams. Ask yourself what you're bringing to the fight, and, perhaps more importantly, how you're bringing it. Do an honest self assessment, and rate yourself on the following:

* Do I take care of myself (think four pillars: physical, emotional, spiritual, social) so that I bring the best to my team daily?

* Do I have the right skills to do what my team is asking of me?

* Do I work well with my team?

* Do I give my team all they need, all the time?

* Do I know what my team and I are trying to accomplish?

Next, ask a teammate for their honest appraisal of you using these same questions. If you're weak in an area, ask for help. Go to a team member, a trusted friend or family member, a supervisor, or someone else who can help strengthen you. Make the personal commitment to improve. As we do this, our teams will be strengthened.

An old Kenyan proverb says, "Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable."

The SEALs have a saying: "Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds."

Even my youth group knew that together they were better than individually. As "Team" Hill, we will stand stronger.