As a former track and field athlete and coach, my favorite events were the sprint relays. It’s no accident that the 4×400 relay usually ends the meet. It underscores the idea that, despite many individual heroics, this is still fundamentally a team sport.
I think we can use a relay to visualize how a team works best:
- Each of us has a role and whether we’re the strongest or the weakest, we all need to be at our best to produce the results we want.
- Practice and teamwork are required for the handoff of the baton. It’s not enough to do our part alone; we need to give to the other in a way that sets him or her up for success.
- If there’s a misstep, it doesn’t really matter *who* messed up in the final analysis. (You won’t find out who dropped the baton in the scorer’s sheet, you’ll just see a “DQ” listed.) Instead, we need to analyze *why* it happened and address it.
- Watch the team when the final leg is being run. It’s about this individual effort, sure, but it’s also the culmination of hours of work. A track meet usually starts with field events when few are watching. But those points count just as much at the end. There’s a lesson that we need to do our best even when the spotlight isn’t shining.