The world wide basketball community is full of both good and bad examples of teamwork. However, today’s post is centered on an object that is found in nearly every grade school, middle school, high school, and college classroom.
In 1958 a teacher named Leonard read wrote an essay called “I, Pencil” and it contains an invaluable lesson that is definitely worth learning. Read the beginning of the essay below carefully as the lesson is hidden in one, single word.
“I am the lead pencil, the ordinary wooden pencil that is familiar to all boys and girls and adults who know how to read and write.
Simple though I appear to be I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because – well, because I am seemingly so simple.
Simple? Yes, but not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me.”
Did you find the key word? (I left you a hint in the second paragraph above.)
The key word is “single” as in “not a single person… knows how to make me.”
A simple wooden pencil is the combination of wood, graphite, paint, glue, brass, rubber, canola oil, sulfur chloride, clay, candelilla wax, etc. Those are just the ingredients that need to be grown, created, and gathered.
Now add in all the processes of cutting, forming, and grooving the wood, drying it in kilns, painting it, adding the graphite, and then assembling the eraser and the brass holder.
Throw in all the logistics of shipping the materials back and forth and you can easily see that no ONE person knows how to make a simple pencil all by himself.
A great team is the exact same way. On the outside they are simple, and elegant, and efficient but what you don’t see is all the work and combination of efforts that goes in to producing an outstanding product! From now on every time you look at a pencil think of your own team and ask yourself if you are doing your very best to contribute to the overall success of the group.