Happy Healthy YOU

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(A wellness column by Kelly Spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast!)

My knees and shoulder tell me that my seasons as a ball player are limited to a handful. When my knees tell me it is enough, my love for teams will keep me in the game in some capacity, perhaps as an occasional player and coach. I have been playing since I was a fastball player as a child.

I love everything about teamwork. My kids were encouraged to play any and all sports that they wanted and belong to any and all clubs that they were drawn to be a part of. Teamwork comes in many, many forms and the lessons and personal power that come from teamwork is beyond measure.

It was Henry Ford who said, “Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” It’s been my experience that the ultimate success within a team, whether a club, sports or business, can be found within this quote.

We come together in the beginning with like-minded people or common goal. Whether we want a job, or we like to participate in a particular sport or hobby, we come together with a mutual commonality.

There will be times when we are annoyed, disagree or wish certain moments were different. It is in the tenacity of staying together that we create the progress towards bigger achievements.

I rather enjoy the joking expression of “there is no 'I' in team, but there is an 'm' and an 'e' for 'me.'” Not from a selfish viewpoint, but I think it is important for the success of any unit that we not only work as a team, but we start with ourselves by ensuring we are being the best team member we can be.

Whether it is a ball team, a knitting club or a business, we must show up attempting to be our best version of ourselves as possible. We aren’t perfect, nor should we expect ourselves or others to be, but we can show up first-rate and when we are not, we can strive to reach higher and improve.

I remember a few years back when my son was playing bantam rep hockey. They were in the finals at the coveted and prominent Silver Stick Tournament. A tie game had them going into their 6th period. (Yes, sixth.) The coach shortened the bench, a lot. The same boys were on the ice with minimal shift change. When the whistle was blown for a called time out, the players getting tremendous ice time dropped to their knees for a little rest. The other players on the bench would huddle-in with part support for those playing and partly wishing they were given the opportunity to play. The first string was visibility tired, but when it was time for the puck drop, they stood strong and gave it their all.

Teamwork taught them to pick each other up. It taught them that even when they thought they were so exhausted they wanted to quit, they did not give up and they found it within themselves to keep going. This moment taught them the power of working together and the strength that they each could unknowingly access within. It taught some to work harder and develop so they could be first string.

They lost that hockey game in the 6th period. It was a huge let down. Within their defeat their was respect, not only for themselves, but the other team, the officials and their coaches. They also learned how to lose as a team, gracious in their downfall. There was huge disappointment in that loss but they learned to get back at it the next week and build on that moment.

Hours of ice time and hard work and practice taught them that champions aren’t created overnight. With discipline, focus and dedication, they succeeded finishing their season with an OMHA (Ontario Minor Hockey Association) BB Finals victory.

The energetic moment when the final buzzer rang and the fully packed hometown arena stood with a roar of cheers will be embedded in their minds along with the accumulation of all the moments that brought them to this juncture.

They will always have the life-long friendships that created those memories that year. Those memories filling them life lessons of loss, hard work, pride and achievement that will propel them in other areas of their life but perhaps most of all, they will remember the team.

The power of teamwork provides opportunity in all areas of our lives to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.

Working as a team, teaches us about the respect and value of each individuals contribution to the unit. There may be bigger “players” in each line-up, whether job, club, family or sport, but for the unit to run effectively we must remember the importance of each and every member.

In moments of disappointment, either from one’s own part - or envy of another’s, we develop a healthy sense of competition, strength and courage to dig deeper within ourselves to obtain our personal desires and goals.

The spirit of trust is nurtured as we rely on other people and know they rely on us, establishing strong relationships. Without trust, a team can crumble or stagnate their potential success. Great teams build each other up and strengthen individual members to create a cohesive group. By working together, employees, teammates or group members learn that wins and losses affect everyone.

Mindfulness, within any group is enhanced as we learn what we want and what we do not, by observing the various individual dynamics within the group. Open, kind and encouraging communication is imperative for success, openness and group efficacy.

Working as team, fosters creativity, learning and inspiration by blending our complementary strengths. Perhaps one person is a “thinker” and another is a “doer” or maybe one is a “blocker” and another a “runner”, together and only together, do they create a more potent force.

When we see the value of each person including ourselves, we enhance the collaborative power of the entire unit. By realizing that a group can accomplish what an individual alone cannot do - even when it comes to individual advancement - we will appreciate the power of being a member in the units we belong to, in a way that creates a healthy enhancement in our lives.

P.S. In the game of life, we are all on the same team.

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