Personal Achievement vs. Team Achievement

by Lance Ekum on · 14 comments

baseball for baby bob
Creative Commons License photo credit: ryan loucks photography

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime. ” ~ Babe Ruth

It’s youth baseball season here right now. Last night brought two games at our household – for my older son (13) and younger son (9). On the one hand, both games ended in defeat. On the other hand, both boys each had what I felt was their best personal performance of the year. I came home excited by their performances, telling them it doesn’t matter if you win or lose. But, was that the right approach?

As a parent, I was most pleased that my children performed well for the team. And, I believe both boys felt they had performed well. But their view was more focused on the team. They were more upset about losing the game than on have a great personal game.

Taking this all into perspective, the kids had this one right. It is better to share in the victory of a team over the individual effort of one. That is not to say the indivual effort is not to be praised. The key, though, is to meld together individual performance for the betterment of the team.

This, of course, applies to all team sports. But in can apply in other areas as well. Think work teams, or teams of volunteers, or family “teams”. When we can get everyone on the team (no matter what kind of team we have) working together toward a common goal, with everyone putting forth their best effort, is when we have the greatest opportunity to have a great team effort. Maybe this results in a win (little league baseball), or maybe it results in a successful software implementation (work project), or maybe it results in a successful clean-up of a local park (volunteer project), or maybe it results in a great family vacation (family). In the end, how the team performs trumps individual performance. Invidual performance plays a factor in the team performance, but only if it is in alignment with the team.

So, in the activities that matter in our life, it is important that we strive to give our personal best. At that same time, however, it is equally important that our personal achievements are in alignment with the overall achievement of our team. It is then that we will experience the true success of these teams!

Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel June 25, 2008 at 3:11 pm

I do think it is hard to enjoy a personal achievement when you don’t succeed as a group. Not that you don’t think you did well, but more that you feel you could have done more to make things better. I think it is important like you said to just remember to try to do our best and try to give ourself credit when we do a good job.


Mark Salinas June 26, 2008 at 1:05 pm

My 10 year old daughter is in softball and my 8 year old son is in baseball. Good advice and nice story!


Lanceman June 26, 2008 at 4:15 pm

@Rachel – good point. I guess it comes down to human nature (it’s good) and that we have a hard time celebrating when everyone else is feeling down.

@Mark – we could get together and make up a team. I have an 11 year old daughter as well as the two boys. Thanks for stopping by!


Amanda Linehan June 26, 2008 at 10:06 pm

Lance – I think because personal achievement is so highly valued we forget that team achievements can be very satisfying too – even if our own personal achievement is not highlighted.


Barbara Swafford June 27, 2008 at 2:59 am

Hi Lance,

I thought that was awfully sweet that your boys were more worried about the team, than themselves. You’ve taught them well.

Anytime we engage in activity where there’s more than one, we do need to be thinking about what’s good for everyone involved. When selfishness enters the picture, it totally changes the dynamics. Like they say, there’s no “I” in “Team”.


Kathy June 27, 2008 at 7:34 am

Your boys are obviously reflecting the values they seem practiced before them at home on a daily basis. BRAVO!

So many parents today have forgotten that the REASON we have our kids play on sports teams is so they’ll learn how to be a team player. Being able to function as part of a “team” is important in so many areas of life. Our careers, our relationships with others, our marriages are all areas where team work is a virtue.

Glad to see your little guys have the right perspective!


Lanceman June 27, 2008 at 8:00 am

@Amanda – Good point, it can be easy to get wrapped up in our own little world, and forget about the big picture.

@Barbara – Thank you! Sometimes I think they get this concept better than I do.

@Kathy – Thanks much! I agree — that is one of the great benefits of playing on a team, is the skills you learn that will be with you the rest of your life.


Marelisa June 27, 2008 at 10:49 am

Hi Lance, Have you heard of the golden hand? Basically, if one person on a team is “golden” (a great player), he/she raises the bar for everyone else on the team, thereby helping them improve their game. If you have a team and everyone is off doing their own thing, I completely agree that this isn’t going to work. On the other hand, at the end of the day you only have control over yourself and how well you perform. I think it’s a delicate balancing act.


Lanceman June 27, 2008 at 10:54 am

Marelisa – No, I haven’t heard of the golden hand. It’s a great point – kind of like someone taking a leadership role on the team. And has the skills to back it as well. I can see this being very effective for the team.


peter vajda June 27, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Often in life, as in sports, too many folks consider the contest, the game, the experience from a zero-sum perspective – if you get yours, then I won’t get mine. Competition vs. collaboration.

Too, since many ego-driven, hubris- (rather than pride) driven parents live vicariously through their children, many children have become indoctrinated to view their parents’ “winning at all costs” (read-“me, first”) mantra as their own…

You and your chidlren are blessed…the hope is they carry this mind-set into adolescence and into adulthood where the planet (and the workplace) will be better of because of their presence.


Lanceman June 30, 2008 at 7:29 am

@Peter – Thanks, and great points — we do have to be careful what we do as parents, as there are people watching and learning from what we do.


Jen Sinkler July 11, 2008 at 1:28 pm

Wow, great post and perspective on a controversial topic. Thanks for commenting on my post about kids and sports — I’m glad it led me here!


Lanceman July 11, 2008 at 4:32 pm

@Jen – Thanks for stopping by here also! Kids and sports are something I deal with almost every day it seems! But it’s all fun and good…


scheng1 February 19, 2010 at 9:26 am

Actually I think the strength of a team is seen only when a player loses the game. That is the time for the team to show support for each other. Most teams blame the poor player, until he is so discouraged.
.-= scheng1´s Last Fabulous Post ..7 tips to self improvement =-.


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