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Archive for the ‘Teamwork’ Category

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT)

When it comes to winning formulas we can often overlook the obvious.

Since Team USA was soundly defeated by the Europeans at this year’s Ryder Cup there’s been a lot of speculation as to why this was the case. The simple answer is that Europe’s Ryder Cup team simply played better golf. I suppose that’s the bottom line.

There’s also been a great deal of discussion as to why the Europeans outperformed the Americans when both teams had the talent to win. We can always point to the momentum of Team Europe who won the past several events and the advantage of being on home turf. But often in golf, as in other sports, it’s much more difficult to maintain a lead than it is to overtake a leader.

Watching the event there was no doubt that the Europeans were an inspired group of men but most sports commentators point to the fact that the Irishman Paul McGinley was a far superior team leader for the Europeans than Tom Watson was for the Americans.

Having lived in Ireland for the past thirty-one years, learning the culture that Paul McGinley grew up in and having observed his career over the years I have a better understanding of why the Europeans outperformed the Americans.

Quite simply the Europeans under McGinley’s direction played as a cohesive team.

One thing that Americans can often overlook about the Irish and several other European cultures is that by nature it’s relational. By and large people matter more than “projects.”

Close and key relationships often have significant ramifications when it comes to results.

McGinley lived out his relational strengths, won the confidence of his players over time, and drew them into a cohesive unit that proved unbeatable. After the Europeans won at Gleneagles Shane Ryan of Golf Digest noted that earlier this year Paul McGinley came alongside young Victor Dubuisson of France, a seemingly complex young man, knowing that he might play a significant role on the team.

Ryan wrote, “McGinley, who treated his captain’s role with an obsessive, conscientious zeal since being named in January 2013, made it his business to understand the young Frenchman . . . But with time and persistence, by showing up at tournaments and corporate functions where he knew Victor would be present, he broke through the barriers, earned Victor’s trust, and conveyed everything he learned to Graeme McDowell.”

As it turned out it was time well spent.

When it comes to sports and to life we often look too closely at individual achievement and neglect the relational aspects of teamwork and camaraderie. The Sky Sports commentators I watched such as Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomery made a strong case, one very apparent to the viewer, that the Europeans were much more committed to each other as a team than were the Americans. McGinley was the embodiment of these strong, relational values.

I also see this very clearly in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ who drew a group of men around Him, invested His life in them and then released them into the world through the power of the Holy Spirit. The result was that they literally changed the world.

In western culture we can fall into the trap of thinking that it’s our individual performance that makes the difference when it’s our relationships with God and each other that usually determines our success or failure in life, in sports, in church or business.

What came across very clear at the Ryder Cup was that the Europeans were already ahead in terms of their support for Paul McGinley and each other before the first ball was ever teed up. That’s a winning formula that will bear fruit regardless of the final score.

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