Individual medal, team victory - Raising The Baa

Individual medal, team victory

Ponderings of guest blogger Caroline Palmer (aka Bo-Peep)

The London 2012 Olympic Games continues to be the most amazing event providing us all with so many inspirational messages on countless levels.

What has struck me in particular is the amount of people who make up the team behind each individual taking part. And at the risk of sounding like the Oscars on occasions, the medallists will often recognise all those they wish to thank when interviewed shortly after their event.

Shortly before the Olympics the Tour de France took place with Bradley Wiggins the first British conqueror. Coincidentally I was reading the second of Lance Armstrong’s books Every Second Counts which helped me understand some of the tactics and most importantly the team strategy that goes into this remarkable race.

Of all the sporting challenges the Tour de France seems to me the greatest demonstration of teamwork. Here’s how Armstrong explains it:

“The Tour de France poses an interesting question about the nature of teamwork: why should eight riders sweat and suffer for three weeks when only one man will get the trophy? This is asking for an extreme degree of self-sacrifice, perhaps even an unnatural amount. But the smart athlete, and person, knows that if self-sacrifice is hard, self-interest is worse. It dooms a team; you wind up a bunch of singletons that just happen to wear the same shirts.

…. Team-mates have an odd relationship: they float somewhere between acquaintances and relatives. But I contend that people are meant to work together in groups, not alone, and that a certain amount of self-sacrifice is not unnatural, but natural. Think about it: people have been gathering together in group efforts throughout time.

If you truly invest yourself in a team, you guarantee yourself a return on your investment, and that’s a big competitive advantage over other less-committed teams. On (our) team we invest in each other’s efforts – and the result is that we often have the sensation that we’re racing against teams that merely spend themselves. What’s smarter, to invest or spend? Investment implies a longer-term commitment; it’s not shallow or ephemeral; it’s enduring and it suggests a long-term return.”

And bringing it up to date here’s what Dave Brailsford, Team Principal of Team Sky, said after victory in Tour de France 2012:

“The one thing I’d like the team to be known and remembered for is the unity and that teamwork. The guys work tirelessly for each other, they get on really well and they showed again today that they all back each other, it doesn’t matter what the situation is.”

Do you think that Team GB Cycling – and many other Olympic sports – have invested wisely in their team over the years? Just a bit…

Are you part of a team that could relate to these sentiments? What are the values of your team – in your office, your business, in the family, in your community, your sports or other social club?

Cliché but true: T.E.A.M. = Together Everyone Achieves More