No I in Team


A popular cliché amongst coaches past and present…second only to perhaps “nobody ever drowned in sweat” or “keep your eye on the ball”….is the phrase “there is no I in TEAM”…a life lesson learned, as most would believe, through participation in team sports. However, even upon the band geeks were showered such idioms, which is where yours truly was first introduced.

As the universe would have it, I found this lesson in humility in unfamiliar territory…as 2nd chair trumpet in junior high school (aka middle school in today’s vernacular). Although I found myself comfortably at home with any and all sports, my parents, having my best interests at heart, suggested I spread my wings into the musical realm….and the trumpet was the instrument of choice for the Nabors’ men. After a valiant effort and countless hours of practice (at least how I remember it), I found myself sitting behind a braniac nerd. When I approached the band director to inquire as to how I could attain the lofty status of 1st chair, he explained a lesson in harmony.

“Young Master Nabors, there is no shame in playing 2nd chair. In fact, one might argue that 2nd chair is at least if not more critical than 1st chair, for without all the other trumpets…the trombones and baritones….the clarinets and saxophones…the strings and the percussion…the black and white ivory ticklers…there is no orchestra….there is only a trumpet….and no purveyor of fine music yearns to listen to only one instrument, but rather to all in harmony with one another…each bringing something magical to the dance”.

As I absorbed and pondered, I witnessed evidence of my sage band director’s wisdom EVERYWHERE. When I galloped with the pigskin, I was doomed without my snowplows providing a path on which to run, they more important than I. When I donned the tools of ignorance behind the plate, I would have been only 11% of a baseball team without my pitcher and his entourage.

As adults…contributing members of society…how often do we sacrifice our own interests for those of the greater good? How often do we take action to benefit others when we believe, whether actually true or not, that we will be somehow disadvantaged by such action? How often do we speak the truth that is in our hearts when we believe the risk is personal injury or ridicule? How often do we put others over self?

I do my best to live a selfless life…failing and succeeding regularly…not for accolades…but rather to lift others up to heights they may not visit otherwise…in hopes that they will pay it forward for their brothers and sisters. The job doesn’t pay well…at least in earthly reward…but it is a worthy job…in or out of the limelight.

We live in a world full to the brim with selfishness…I challenge you to swim upstream…be counterintuitive…think your own thoughts…trust in the one and only truth…YOUR OWN. In so doing, you will drown in a cornucopia of wealth…whether  you play 1st chair or 2nd.

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8 thoughts on “No I in Team”

  1. Swimming upstream is definitely a challenge s todays society, but the eternal reward is most undeniably worth it. The struggles we face reap great rewards and without those struggles we would be nothing….. look to the Scottish Salmon for an example!

    1. Truth can be black and white at times, and other times gray. Your truth and my truth may be different based on many different factors…cultural, experiential, educational…you are the only one that knows what is true for you.

  2. Thanks for the explanation. I definitely see so much selfishness in the world, and in me at times. The funny thing is that people don’t experience the joy that comes from being unselfish and they don’t even realize what the’re missing!

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