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NEWS | Dec. 13, 2016

Teamwork, Commitment and Trust

By Ched Beam, executive director 628th Air Base Wing

“Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” - Vince Lombardi, Hall of Fame football coach for the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins

While we celebrate the United States Air Force’s birthday each September, this week marks a significant milestone and catalyst in our aviation history.  On December 17, 1903, Orville Wright piloted the first powered airplane 20 feet above the beach at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  The first flight lasted only 12 seconds traveling 120 feet.  Orville and his brother, Wilbur, made three more flights during the day with the longest lasting 59 seconds covering 852 feet. That first flight was fueled by the individual commitment of Orville and Wilbur, the teamwork of both and trust in each other’s capabilities and contributions.

A successful team depends on everyone—you, your co-workers, passionate leaders, a supporting family and a network of positive friendships.   Your response may be, “No kidding!”  One of my first but lasting lessons in teamwork came as a high school sophomore.  Our freshman football team completed the previous season with a dismal 0-6 record. In fact, we scored only one touchdown the entire season and were plagued by injuries, players quitting the team and just plain lack of teamwork.  To this day I still remember the words of the high school head coach, Von Ray Harris, on day one of practice the next fall. “You will give 100 percent in practice, on each and every down of each and every game…And we will score more than one touchdown and we will win one game this year!”  That season there were no superstars, no standouts, just dedication and teamwork.  With nearly the same group of young men from the previous year, our sophomore team finished 9-1 with a conference championship.  The only loss was by less than a touchdown to a team with much more raw talent, speed and size than we had. Teamwork and a passionate, inspiring leader in our coach made the difference.

Your friends and family are vital parts of your team.  After more than 23 years of marriage, my best teammate and best friend is still my wife.  Your teammates may be spouses, significant others, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles…you get the picture.  Many times I have attempted to play “Mr. Mom” but quickly realized I needed my teammates to succeed…not just my wife but my parents, siblings, friends and others.  You need those important teammates too. We must continually foster and grow these relationships to develop our team into a championship one.

“Good teams become great teams when the members trust each other enough to surrender the ‘me’ for the ‘we’!” - Phil Jackson, 11-time NBA championship coach with the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls

Orville and Wilbur Wright dreamed big and made those dreams a reality through individual effort, teamwork, commitment and trust.  The Wright brothers’ first flight was a result of seven years of hard work and many failed attempts, most of it from their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio.  Look where we are today…we can fly non-stop transcontinental flights on an Airbus 380 or a Boeing 747, 7,000 miles across the ocean with 500 or more of our best friends and family!

Take the opportunity this holiday season to spend time with all of your teammates especially your family and friends. Reflect on those 2016 “team” victories in both your professional career and personal life and get prepared for many more wins coming in 2017!