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Published:December 19th, 2007 11:52 EST
When Team Play Turns Destructive

When Team Play Turns Destructive

By Terry Sumerlin (Mentor/Columnist)

Legendary manager for the New York Yankees, Charles Dillon (“Casey”) Stengel, said that the key to his managerial success was his ability to keep the players that hated him away from those who were still undecided. Though Hall of Fame type players certainly didn’t hurt his chances for success, it’s hard to argue with it.

If, on the other hand, you are part of a team with less than satisfactory management, what can you do? Though you might take a position elsewhere, I’m not in a position to make that kind of recommendation.

What I would recommend is that, despite the circumstances or the managerial style of the decision makers, we must always stay true to our values. There are circumstances where we must individually and courageously take a stand. Especially is such the case when we are expected to sacrifice character or conscience for the team. Cal Ripken, Jr. faced this type of challenge.

It was 1994 and Major League Baseball was on strike. Yet, Ripken showed up at the ballpark every day, just as he'd always done. When asked what he was doing he replied that he had signed a contract to work. He was there to honor that contract.

I have an idea that in addition to not sacrificing character for team play, neither would he have sacrificed dignity. He would not have tolerated certain treatment.

Along this line, we must take a stand when our dignity is at risk because of that which is demeaning, disrespectful or unfair. In such cases we must stand up and tell "the team" or management, "I will not accept that kind of treatment."

On the other hand, we must always understand that the job does not give us dignity. We take the dignity to the job. Furthermore, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” In other words, sometimes we place too much value on what others do or say with respect to our dignity, and accept too little responsibility for determining our own thoughts.

Another area we might consider when we think of taking a stand for self rather than going along with the team might be that in which the price demanded by the team is unreasonable, or more than one should have to pay.

For instance, twelve to fifteen hour workdays might occasionally be alright while on special projects. If such is required nearly every day, that might be too high a price to pay for success. It could be time to take a stand.

Though many, on their deathbed, might want more time with the spouse or children rarely do they wish for another hour in the office, on the computer or on the cell phone. When quality of life is sacrificed for the team, or worse yet for material possessions, it’s time to say "I'm not going to do that."

BARBER-OSOPHY: Truly successful people have the courage to stand alone when they must.

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