(Originally written, September 1996)

The 1996 Summer Olympics are now over. Thanks to television all of us were able to tune in (live or on video) and watch the greatest athletes in the world. I think of Carl Lewis winning his 9th gold medal, the amazing double winner Michael Johnson, and the Dream Team that made it look so easy. But I was particularly impressed with the U.S. women’s teams. How can we ever forget the 7 small girls winning the gold in gymnastics anchored by Oklahoma’s Shannon Miller and the unforgettable fault of Kerri Strug? Led by Lisa Leslie, the basketball team won 60 straight games and the gold medal. In women’s softball Dot Richardson led an inspired group in winning the inaugural gold medal. The synchronized swimming team scored a near perfect 99.72 points, including 9 perfect 10’s. The ladies won both the 100 and 400 meter relays in track. Finally, Amy Van Dyken won 4 golds, leading the women’s swim team as they scored victories in all 3 relays.

The women scored a silver in the rowing competition, but that event is the embodiment of team work. It is the ideal expression of what it means to work in perfect harmony. When I think of a team, I visualize an athletic team. But “teams” for many years meant a matched group of animals like the Budweiser horses. A team can do more together than the sum of their individual efforts.

It takes pitching speed, power, and defense to put together a softball team. Basketball demands both height and quickness, rebounding and shooting, passing and strategy. In the swimming medley relays it takes four swimmers each using a different stroke to win the race. In gymnastics one may contribute more on the vault, another on the floor, still another on the bars, and even the dreaded beam. When one ahs a weakness in one area, he or she is strong in another. Not even the greatest gymnasts in the world are equally strong in each event.

The Olympics and athletes tell us a lot about life. They show us plainly that there are the great superstars that excel in individual events. However, most of us are members of a team. It could be a family, a marriage, a group at work, or a community effort. We each complement one another. We need one another. We are equal but different, similar but specialized. Together in our company, group, party, or crew we unite into one body determined to work, train, and achieve as one. As co-workers, we join with others to become true colleagues. We are comrades taking up the yokes of life, side by side, to accomplish a common goal. We don’t waste our energy criticizing our fellow workers and dwelling on their faults, but we look for their strengths and are thankful that they supply what we cannot.

As we face struggles, conflicts, and challenges in our daily relationships, let’s remember that each member of the team is invaluable. Even the smallest, quietest, and unnoticed member of the team is needed to win the “gold” in the battle of life.

Pulling together,


About kenthumphreys
Kent Humphreys has been a business leader for over forty years. He also served as CEO of FCCI/Christ@Work for six years and now serves as their worldwide ambassador, speaking, writing, and mentoring young leaders. He continues to be active in distribution, private equities, and real estate. Kent and his wife Davidene have written six books together. They have three children and eight grand-children.

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