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A team can be cohesive and still lose, in spite of the synergy and congruence that build a strong bond among them. Often, we have been told that teams that play together with one mind, one purpose, and one focus become outstanding, but I don’t believe that these qualities, despite being necessary, are the only factors that determine victory. Many teams have lost even if they played together. This is because there are other factors that determine the status of a team. There are dos and don’ts when it comes to team play. If you do what should be done and also spice it up with what shouldn’t, you might end up losing what you should have won. This is what happens when a sparkling white linen is soiled with just a single dot of oil. People wouldn’t focus on the major parts that are white but on the spot that is messy. Many teams lose because of their minute weak link. What competitors focus on is to study their opponents in order to find out that hidden and smallest factor that can break them down. A big ship in motion can be capsized by a little tilt. Also, an airplane in motion up there can be brought down by an insignificant bird. If you don’t watch your guard, you’ll be embarrassed by things that appear like nothing. Having said that, what are certain things that teams do that stop them from winning?

Playing with too much caution: Caution is good, but when it becomes too much, it becomes disadvantageous. Sometimes, you’ve got to play rugged in order to win big games. Sometimes, you have to venture into high risks in order to get something outside the box. Too much caution will only keep you in your comfort zone, because you aren’t daring.

Using football teams as example, how many teams that never go for it make it big? And also using Apple as illustration, if the company had maintained its confinement when organizations like IBM and Microsoft were household names, they wouldn’t have been where they are today. Sometimes, you need to roll up your sleeves and push beyond the boundaries. Playing with too much caution will keep you where mediocrity is king.

Avoiding criticism: Some teams don’t want to be criticized, so they play to the gallery. Playing to entertain won’t take you anywhere because if at the end of the game, you lose, the batter you were avoiding, you will entice. Because no matter how good you played, what counts is the victory. If you don’t win, you’re in for big trouble.

Being scared of criticism separates you and your originality because you would want to follow a popular demand. In popular demand, there’s no creativity; you just follow a routine structured by someone somewhere. But if you are carefree, it won’t matter to you what people say. You will go ahead and do your own thing, and if you do it right, for life, you’ll be known as an innovator.

Scared of the spotlight: I used to think that every player wants the spotlight, until I saw some people run away from where they should shine. Some people avoid doing great things because they’re scared of the stage; that is what happens to some teams. On small stages, some teams win, but on big stages, they plummet. Stage fright kills big opportunities. When I talk about stage, I am talking about rare privileges given to a team or someone to showcase his or her abilities, even if it is a single minute.

I pinch myself when people don’t take their chances. I quiver when teams don’t even know that they’ve been given a chance. If you don’t take your chance, you will be inundated with a barrage of devastating defeats. If you think that you’re too strategic to fail when you throw away many privileges for various reasons, ask some football teams, and they will tell you many nightmares they’ve had.

Refusing, avoiding or scared of additional responsibilities: Some teams don’t go beyond the lower limit; they just do enough to keep them going, and after that, nothing else. When given additional responsibilities outside what they’re used to, they whine. They whine because they are locked up in their structural comfort zone. And because they’re dead in structure and routine, anything innovative offends them. Apart from innovation, some teams are lazy. What some don’t realize is that additional responsibilities may not fetch immediate financial reward, but it is an opportunity to learn something new and become something new. What you learn may be useful in the near or far future. I remember when I left secondary school, although my subjects were sciences, but I developed interest in reading literary books. One day, I picked up an Africa novel titled African Child to read. Some years later after leaving the University, I went for a recruitment test, and guess what? Some of the questions came from that book. Don’t ask me if I passed the test, because your guess is right.

Not all games end within the regulation time; some go beyond if a winner must emerge. To win, you must develop the stamina to play an extra time. You and your team can win, if plus all the positive attributes, skills and qualities, you also avoid not doing certain things. You can win always if you have the right mentality!


Ken is a leadership Motivation, Strategy and Personal Development Writer, Blogger and Speaker. He writes for a number of magazines and blogs. He is also a mentor and published author of several books.