Whenever I work with others in formal situations, I always hear the quip: “There’s no I in team!”
Who knows what this means? I certainly don’t and I doubt anyone who says it has anything more than a vague idea of what they’re trying to say.
I’m sure that they want you to think it means something like:
“Don’t let your individual interests and desires come before those of the team.”
What they really mean is:
“I’m in charge here! It’s my way or the highway!”
But you know what, as someone who has been involved in many team efforts, including non-frivolous endeavors like military action and bringing in crops (…the two are more related than many realize…) I’ve come to the conclusion that there really should be an ‘I’ in team.
In fact, I don’t even believe there is such a thing as a “team!”
A reification fallacy is when you ascribe attributes to abstract concepts: “The crowd ran” or “the government voted” or “Nature hurled violent storms at unsuspecting Carolinians!”
The same thing applies to a “team.” The “team plays” or the “team practices” or the “team achieves” are all reification errors!
Really, a “team” is the abstract term given to a class of individuals who are working together for some common end. When this is realized, then it’s not too hard to see that the best “team” is one where every individual is as equally devoted to the cause as every other!
There may be disagreements of course. That’s when the leader of the team must make a call one way or the other. But, the best teams are full of “I’s.”
The “no I in team” mantra really expresses an underlying love of top-down rule by fiat. My way or the highway, Jack!
Far better to have a group of folks who are all dedicated to the same cause and are willing to diligently contribute to a group effort in whatever way they can.
This is a bottoms-up, community-oriented approach to team-work. Much more concrete. Much more “earthly” and “human.”
No yoke of abstraction on my back!