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Teamwork Works

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- This article comes just off the heels of the 2012 Summer Olympics, where USA proved victorious with a 16-medal margin over the closest competing nation. There were reportedly 539 athletes competing in 24 sport categories under the USA banner, many I'm sure who had never, and maybe still haven't, had the opportunity to meet others on the team; yet undoubtedly each of them shared one common goal ... WIN. In order to win, an individual simply has to be better than their opponents under a similar set of circumstances.

Consider for a moment the women's track & field events. In the event that determined the world's fastest female (100 meter sprint), our best finish was 2nd, followed by 4th and 5th place finishes. Jamaica took the 1st and 3rd place finishes. In the event that determined the world's fastest female team however (4 x 100 meter relay), where three of the four USA team members were the 2nd, 4th, and 5th place finishers from the 100 meter individual race. Not only did the USA team win with impressive results, they set a new world record. Jamaica, with their two 100 meter individual medalists on the relay team, crossed the finish line more than a half second behind the USA team.

So what made the difference for the USA in the relay win? After all, each runner ran 100 meters per race. My point is obvious; we are much more capable of success as a team than we are as individuals. Unity, spirit, effort, cohesiveness, chemistry, and commonality are what made the difference.

Though I've targeted a specific example, the philosophy directly translates to what we do each day. An organization's success can be attributed to the effort of the team. Successful teams are comprised of individuals who have a genuine interest in being the best at their jobs. Our most basic challenge, where it relates to this topic, is not so much in building teams, as it is in getting individuals to adopt and implement this philosophy.

At the end of the Olympic Games, it was the USA Team that stood victorious, not just those with medals around their necks.