“Teamwork: the fuel that produces uncommon results in common people.” Anonymous
“The key to teamwork is to learn a role, accept that role, and strive to become excellent playing it.” Pat Riley
Several years ago, when I was coaching the Junior College basketball team at Wentworth Military Academy , an opposing coach approached me after the game. He said, “Your kids are over achievers. How do you get them to play so hard? I replied that it wasn’t that my players were overachievers (although truth be known, they were) but that his were underachievers. As far as getting them to play so hard–I demand it. The players know it is expected of them by me and their teammates. I went on to explain my theory of teamwork, and the fist.
Teams have two choices–they can either be like the hand or to be like the fist. The hand is made of five fingers working independently of each other. Spread the five fingers of your hand and you have peaks and valleys. Some nights, when everything is going right, you are on top of one of those peaks. However, it is easy to slide back down to the depths of the valley. And, if I slap you with the open hand, it is going to sting, it is going to embarrass you, and it is going to hurt your pride. But, it is not going to deliver a knockout punch.
The fist on the other hand, is a tight-knit group–pulling together in a common cause. Sure there are still the five individual fingers of the hand, but now they are working with the other fingers. If I close the fist and hit you I can deliver a knockout punch. When you come to you wonder what in the world hit you.
Mike Krzyzewski, long time Head Coach at Duke University also talks about the Fist. In his book, Leading with the Heart, Coach K says, “I look at the members of our team like the five fingers of a hand. Some hands have small fingers that easily come together as a fist. Other hands have very large fingers but, if they never come together as a team, they probably won’t be as powerful as the smaller hand does. In other words, if five talented individuals don’t perform as a team, they may not be as strong as five less-talented individuals who do.”