Friday, April 13, 2012

There is no "I" in team

London, ON, November 2011

For some reason I've been a little more pensive than usual this week, and have spent ample amounts of time churning weighty issues like life, the universe, and everything. This week's single person theme (head here for more on that) has made me wonder about whether we're ever truly alone.

And the answer I keep coming back to is, no, we're not. Sure, we can be single. We can spend the bulk of our days focused on individual, disconnected work. We can travel to distant places and be as far away from friends and family as planetary dynamics will allow. But somehow we're still connected. And we're still connected because humans need to be connected.

I woke up early this morning to write. For the past few hours, I've sat here in my darkened home office, surrounded by absolute silence. My usual spigots of external connectivity - Twitter, smartphone, email - have been blessedly dark as the rest of my world gets some well deserved sleep. Thanks to that silence, I was able to go heads-down on a pile of work that needed to get done. And as the sun rose and I put the finishing touches on another article, I looked at it and realized I wasn't the only one here. Sure, I wrote the thing. I came up with the idea, pitched it, researched it, typed it, reread it a bunch of times and shaped it into a hopefully cohesive piece of work.

But I didn't do it on my own. I have a wife who endlessly encourages me to pursue a path that some may call a little ridiculous. I have kids who get that their dad sometimes has to disappear in the middle of dinner. I have friends who chat me up wherever they find me and help me validate that my ideas actually connect with a real-world audience, and editors who let me pitch and write about all sorts of out-there topics.

I've never played football, but I imagine it's a lot like the picture above. This receiver might be completely alone on the field, a split-second away from crossing the line to a cheering crowd. But just out of frame is an entire team that got him to where he is right now. And when he spikes the ball in the end zone, they'll be just a few seconds behind, ready to share in the celebration. He knows they're right behind him. He knows he needs them - on this play and every play to come.

The sky has now turned bright and the house is beginning to stir. I may have been holed up in here for a good chunk of the night, but I was hardly alone. Indeed, I wouldn't be able to achieve any of this if I weren't surrounded, day and night, by those who care enough to support and guide me - whether they're standing in front of me or not.

Your turn: How are you not alone?


Lisa Shafer said...

Unless you're a hermit, you're not really alone, but, to remind us of the importance of the individual, I'm going to share a quote with you that was spurted out of the mouth of one of my 13-year-old academic team players years ago. "Yeah, there's no 'I' in 'team,'" he said, "But there's one right in the middle of 'WIN.'"
He had a good point.

21 Wits said...

Yes, Lisa's student had a good point. It's funny how I can relate so well to you post, and how I've been thinking on those same waves too. Adding, where are all the "team" players? So often our connections with everything can leave me feeling too disconnected. I've thought of having everyone deposit their phones at the door, and we did one night for a murder-mystery dinner, and continued at breakfast as's times like those to later recall, and it reminds just how un-alone I truly am.