There are all kinds of teams. Some are organized like football and basketball teams, church groups, civic groups, book clubs or sewing circles. Others are a little more amorphous like neighborhoods, fans of a similar person, team or group, or those who share a similar talent/interest. Regardless of what brings teams together, there is every kind of team everywhere you look
Whether you are a member of the Dallas Cowboys, attend the Methodist church on the corner, are on the PTA, live in Crofters Cove, love Frank Sinatra, are a Scrapbooker (or all of the above) you are a part of a team—and that’s good.
We all want to belong. We all want to be a part of something, and that’s why we gravitate together. It’s why we try out, volunteer, or set aside our precious time for teams. We crave that commonality and community. No matter how busy we are, we often find ourselves willing to throw our hat in one more ring in order to gain one more connection.
As members of these different groups we need to remember that desired community. It will help us remember to be continually inclusive, instead of answering the primal instinct to exclude. Regardless of how many groups knock at your door, it’s important to remember everyone isn’t quite so busy.
There are many people who are looking for anyway to be a part of anything—so much so that sometimes they’ll do whatever it takes to be “in.” Even when people are included, when times get difficult, they want more—they need more.
When I broke my neck, I needed any inclusion I could get. Even though I was fairly well liked, and a part of numerous groups, my new situation had me longing for more contact—more teammates.
Luckier than most, I had people who were willing to not only let me in, but actually make the effort to “recruit” me.
Growing up, one of the teams I wanted to be a part of was the BYU football team. I spent nights dreaming of me in the locker room or crossing campus proudly wearing my letterman jacket.
Obviously, my new disability made both seem impossible.
One day, lying in the hospital, there was a knock at the door. As it opened, I nearly went into cardiac arrest. There, in the hallway, was Steve Lindsley—quarterback at BYU. He spent a half hour of his time with me and before he left gave me his jersey and an invitation to join him in the locker room.
I wore the jersey every day, and a few months later, I was in the locker room with all my heroes. I was no longer a 15 year old learning to deal with his disability. In that room and with that jersey on, I was a part of the BYU Football Team—a Cougar.
The letterman jacket came later. I wasn’t struggling to find my place, that 15 year old boy scared about his future was long gone. However, that didn’t mean my desire to be a part, to be included was gone too. Just like everyone, I still wanted connections.
The Dean of Students and her Associate Dean, Maren Mouritsen and Tammie Quick (two of the wisest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing), understood that. Just before my graduation from “The Y”, they presented me with my letterman’s jacket in front of my peers. They had overheard me talk about my dream once and being the proactively caring people that they are, called the Vice-President responsible for athletics and got the ball rolling. As far as I know I am the only non- athlete to be a Letterman from BYU—a part of BYU’s letterman’s club. It was one of the proudest days of my young life.
Our challenge is to follow the example of these three good people, Steve, Maren and Tammie, and look for ways we can change the lives of others by making them our teammate. Whether it’s people around us who are struggling like I was in the hospital, or just someone looking for another meaningful connection, like I was at the end of my tenure at BYU, it’s our duty as a member of “Team Humanity” to let those around us know we want them on our side.
Make it your goal this week to target someone and invite them to be a part of one of your teams. Ask them to a church luncheon, or a neighborhood party. Take some time to talk with them about a shared interest, or give them a CD from some artists you both like. If you give it some real thought, you’ll find something that lets someone know you have something in common—and more importantly, that you care.
Watch the difference it makes. Watch their confidence soar as your friendship builds. I’m willing to bet it will have a bigger impact than you ever imagined. But, what will really amaze you is how good the effort will make you feel. Gaining more teammates will shore up your confidence as well. For, working to let others know that they belong, you’ll find yourself feeling more accepted and loved as well.
For, really, at the end of the day, we all want to be part of a team.