Individual vs. Collective

July 12, 2013

“We see possibilities in others, but do we ever dream of the possibilities within ourselves? What you think of yourself is much more important than what others think of you. Decide to like yourself. Then do it! All the wonders you seek are within yourself.
–Sir Thomas Brown

At work, we have team meetings with our supervisor twice per week. This supervisor is very strong on the team concept, and almost all praise during the meetings is given to the team. I will give our supervisor credit and state that she does single out individuals on occasion and present them with written certificates of their achievement. She has given out more of them in the past six months than I have seen in over six years. After one of those meetings, these thoughts came to mind.
Although it is true that a team can accomplish more than an individual by sheer weight of numbers, and there are some tasks that are so large that it takes a team to accomplish them, it is the successful efforts of talented individuals that make the team a success. It is vital that individuals prepare and organize themselves before a team can be successful.
During our team meetings, I have given what I call ‘shout-outs’ to the assembled group. This is my own individual recognition of someone’s skill and accomplishments, made in a public forum. These shout-outs are not presented with reckless abandon. As I tell people, this is not my first rodeo and I am not impressed easily by anyone. For some reason, it seems to be a surprise when I do this. One recipient actually said that she was embarrassed by being named in public.
This is somewhat unexpected to me, due to extensive leftist influence in our public school system. An award simply for participating and none for a superior achievement, pass/fail grades that do not accurately measure knowledge gained and lavish praise to ensure equality of outcomes assures that recent graduates are completely unprepared when they enter the work force.
Of course, leftists have no understanding of good business practice because, according to them, making a profit regardless of what the business is engaged in is evil. So, it is no surprise that employees who are indoctrinated into leftist philosophy constantly complain. Classic Marxism on display. This group of workers, or some nebulous federal agency are everything, you the owner are nothing.
Football has been described as the ultimate team sport, because it requires individual subordination to an overall controller and the entire team must coordinate their efforts, especially on offense, in order to defeat another team. If this is truly so, why bother keeping individual statistics? As talented as a quarterback may be, he cannot be a success entirely on his own.
Without interior linemen being successful in providing protection, he cannot take time required to read defenses. Without a talented receiver being a success in his individual battle with a defensive back, there is no target for his hopefully accurate throw. Without a running back with an abundance of talent and/or skill, there are no options for him when defenses prevent him from passing.
Other sports will provide pertinent examples as well. It should be obvious by now that individual success is a prerequisite for team success, with the most successful individuals possessing extraordinary skills. They also help raise the skill levels of everyone around them.
Ultimately, no one is responsible for you but YOU.
This should not be implied to mean that no one should ever seek help when it is required, nor should someone in need be ignored. To be most effective, assistance should be provided at the lowest possible level. This will generate a limit on bureaucracy and ensures a rapid response at the lowest possible level. How can a faceless
bureaucrat in Washington, consulting a stack of regulations as thick as a metropolitan phone book, understand your local situation?
A truly talented individual, regardless of his endeavor, should be unrestrained. An ever expanding tangle of bureaucrats, federal regulations and paperwork does not create a safety net. It produces a restricting web. If the Mormon pioneers, along with those who traveled the Oregon and California Trails were forced to wait for environmental impact studies, unresponsive bureaucrats and a federal subsidy, there would be no United States as we know it.
As a unique individual, you already have God-given talent. Along with skills and experience unique to yourself, you bring to the team a solid foundation. Now, set yourself up for success. Become organized, take notes. ask questions if you don’t understand something you see or do on the job. Taking these steps places you securely on the path to success. With your own path charted and a course established, now you can help others along the way.
If you are passing by someone and they could use a hand, stop and assist them. Examine completed work, regardless of who performed it, and if it does not look right to you, ask them to explain what they did. Share your knowledge with others, regardless of their own experience level. Nothing will force you to check the accuracy of your own procedures as well as teaching them to someone else.
When all of these elements are brought together, you will be a success at your endeavor, and so will the team. If you set a good example by following these principles and encouraging others to do the same, you will have proven yourself to be a conservative.

Anthony Benson


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