A few days ago, the Olympic track and field action for the Americans was dismal.

First, American hopeful Lolo Jones hit a hurdle at the 100m hurdles. It was enough to throw her off balance, slow her down, and knock her from first  place to 7th.

Then we watched Sanya Richards, the favored in the Women’s 400m, loose steam as she came to the end. She said her hamstring tightened up halfway through the race. But it looked more like someone tossed her a piano, and she tried to carry it to the finish line.

That “piano” was making the rounds that night. Jeremy Wariner, the favored in the Men’s 400m, ran the last 100 meters like he was dragging a boat anchor.

But hey, these are the Olympic Games, and Murphy is always out hunting for victims. If anything can happen, you can count on it happening and at the worst possible moment. The only thing you can do is to prepare for it.

You have to be:

  • prepared if you happen to eat something that sidelines you for 2 days.
  • ready if a stray flu bug leaves you with a fever for 3 days.
  • ready if jet lad and lack of sleep disrupts your schedule.

Stuff happens. You try to do everything to maintain your schedule and your routine. But there will always be stuff that you can’t control that can take you out of play.

So you focus and work on the things that you can control.

Like passing the baton!

The Team Relay Can Provide Insights Into Your Team Building Activities

The Americans fielded two strong teams for the Men’s 4 X 100m relay and the Women’s 4 X 100m relay. Yet, both teams failed to make it past their qualifying rounds. However, they didn’t just miss the required time. They were disqualified because of bad baton passing between the 3rd and the 4th leg of the race. In short, they “dropped the ball”.

All members of both relay teams are extremely good at what they do. They can run “real fast”. But the team relay depends on all members working in conjunction with each other.

And in order to work well together when it counts, you need to practice as a team.

Both of these teams looked like they had no time to work together as a team.

In every team sport, there needs to be some team practice to make all of the parts work together well. In these shorter races, it’s exceptionally important to shave off every last bit of overhead in passing the baton. That way the team can squeeze out its fastest performance. Anyone who has run in a relay event knows that you have to track several variables to get that baton transferred within the zone smoothly. You can’t just throw four exceptional performers together and expect smooth transitions, a world record time, and a gold medal.

Yet this looked exactly like what the team and coaches attempted in the 4 X 100m relay races.

What are some of other ingredients you need to make a good relay team? The same ingredients you need to make any good corporate team.

  1. Individual talent.

    You need some raw material to work with and that comes from the individual.

  2. Individual direction.

    In his book, “Good to Great”, Jim Collins talks about getting everybody on the bus. The individual’s goals and direction has to line up with the group’s goals. But the individual still has to be the owner. The individual contributor can’t say, “Yes I believe in what the team stands for” when they really just want to leverage the relationships for their own purposes.

  3. Communication.

    Team members need to communicate between themselves.

  4. Practice time working together.

    Practice time together gives each member the ability to understand the strengths and limitations of their teammates. They can then adjust their own behavior accordingly.

  5. A common goal.

    There has to be a reason for the team to exist. Even people who get together once a week to have coffee have a reason for getting together.

  6. A desire to reach the common goal.

There are other factors that come into play naturally. But if you want to see what a team looks like when all of these pieces come together, look at the Women’s Beach Volleyball team of Misty May and Kerry Walsh.

  • Individually, they know what their strengths are and what they want.
  • They use a variety of communication techniques.
  • They have a seriously competitive spirit and a strong desire to win.

The result?

108 consecutive wins and two consecutive Olympic Gold Medal wins.

Nuff Said!