There is unrest in the forest, there is trouble amongst the trees; for the maples want more sunlight and the oaks ignore their pleas.
Once upon a time in a forest, the maples and the oaks had a small problem. The maples believed in growing horizontally because they believed that breadth was more important than height. And so they grew wide and fat. But this prevented the oaks from expanding. The oaks, on the other hand, believed in vertical expansion they believed height was more important than breadth. And so they grew tall and lofty. But this blocked most of the sunlight for the maples. And so, a fierce battle started in the forest - the maples growing fat and the oaks growing tall. The maples made their case to the oaks that we do not get enough sunlight, but the oaks simply closed their ears and ignored all their pleas. The battle got more and more fierce until eventually a war broke out and in the end the oaks were killed due to lack of space and the maples were killed due to lack of sunlight. The forest which was once lush green turned into a dry, lifeless desert.
This story was once told to a class of elementary school students and they were asked to generate ideas on how the tragedy of the Maples and the Oaks could have been prevented. Some of the solutions they came up with were truly ingenious.
One boy answered: Why could not they just have compromised : On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays the maples could have held their breath so the oaks could get more room and on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the oaks could have bent down a bit to allow the sunlight to reach the maples. This way, on Sundays, they could have gotten together and really enjoyed each others friendship."
Another boy came up with a more mathematical solution: What if they both agreed to arrange themselves in alternating rows - one row of maples and then a row of oaks and so on. That way the maples would have been free to grow along their row and the oaks free to expand along their row. And if they aligned themselves East-West, along the path of the sun, both would have been guaranteed enough sunlight throughout the year and both could have lived happily and in harmony in the forest.
This was just a test of creativity, but of all the solutions given by the children of that class, the common factor was simply: Teamwork. Both the maples and the oaks had to work together as a whole, as a team, for one common purpose - survival.
The story of the maples and the oaks was just an example, but in reality, when we have to perform any task whatsoever, teamwork is absolutely essential.
Because, when one person is working alone, there are no complications at all - he can do the job any way he likes. But, as the number of people involved in a project increase, the complexity of successfully completing the task grows exponentially.
Suppose a box is to be pushed from one point to another. When one man has to do it, any way is the right way - he can either push it or pull it - both are equally correct. There is no wrong way for one man.But when two people have to work as a team to push the box, the advantage is that there are 3 right ways but there are also 3 wrong ways. If one man pushes from one side and the other pushes from the other side the box will not move. If one pulls on one side and the other also pulls from the opposite side, the box will not move. If one pulls and the other pushes from the same side, the box will not move. If the box is to be moved both have to work together as a team in a coordinated manner. Both have to push or pull from the same side or if they are on opposite sides, one has to pull and the other has to push. Group work increases the necessity of teamwork.
We have all learned in mathematics that the complexity of an equation increases exponentially as the number of variables increase. In the same way, when performing a task, the complexity of the job increases exponentially as the number of individuals increase. It becomes more and more important that they work in unison in a coordinated manner. If the individual members do not work together in harmony, the task cannot be performed successfully, no matter how capable each individual member is.
That's why people often joke that one Indian is equal to 2 Japanese. Now if this is the case, then logic tells us that 2 Indians should be equal to 4 Japs, and 3 Indians should be equal to 6 Japs and so on. But what happens in reality is that 1 Indian is equal to 2 Japs, but 2 Indians are equal to only 1 Jap. Why? Because 1 Indian works fine alone, but when 2 Indians get together they usually end up fighting for supremacy. They cancel each other out and the single Japanese comes out ahead.
This is just a joke about Indians but in reality it can be applied to any group of people that don't work together as a team. Group-work increases the necessity of Teamwork.
On the other hand, if the members can manage to overcome individual differences and work together as a team; if there is harmony among all; if all are working together in synch - then the members as a whole can do much, much more than the individual could do alone. It thus follows from the universal concept the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.
No single part of a plane can fly on its own. Throw up the wing of an aircraft and it will tumble down to the ground. Throw up the tail, or the fuselage, or even the engine and each will fall to the ground. But now, assemble all the parts into one specific shape - the shape of an airplane - let them work together as a team and the same parts which fall when on their own, can fly through the sky.
No single part of a large ship can float on its own. Throw the nuts and bolts of a ship into water and they will sink. Throw the hull, or the propeller, or the rudder and they too will sink. But assemble all the parts into the shape of a ship and let them work together and the same parts will float on water which would normally sink. The whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.
Pujya Yogiji Maharaj often told a story of a flock of doves in the jungle. Once some doves were happily feeding on some seeds when all of a sudden a bird-catcher's net fell on them and trapped them. Immediately all the doves started screaming and flapping their wings in confusion.
But then one Superintendent dove, as Yogiji Maharaj called it, got up and told the others: Listen! If we flap our wings like this randomly, we won't be able to lift the net. Let's become one and flap together with synchronicity.When they did this they were able to lift the net. They all descended on a distant tree and the net remained stuck on the branches and all the doves escaped. No single dove on its own was capable of lifting the net. But when they worked together as a team they accomplished what was impossible for any individual dove to achieve. The whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.
That is why teamwork is so very important when we want to successfully complete a job or project. But, of course, teamwork doesn't come on its own. Teamwork isn't a product which can be forced from people like eggs from a chicken under floodlights. In order to bring harmony and grace to the project, each individual has to contribute and sacrifice something.
In general, the recipe for Teamwork consists of 3 main ingredients: a goal, a role, and a toll.
1.There has to be a common goal among the members.
2.The members of the team have to play their role.
3.The members have to pay a toll - something to be sacrificed.
1. Common Goal
But first, and most importantly, there has to be a common goal. Even though the members of the team have different views, even though they come from different backgrounds, even if they have different ambitions, this common goal is the glue which unites all the members of the team.
Dry cement on its own is extremely powdery...Step on it and it will get crushed. Blow on it and it will be dispersed.
But add water to the same powdery cement and it can create buildings which can withstand winds of over 100 mph. In the same way, a common goal does to a group of people what water does to cement - it focuses everyone's energies in one direction, towards one goal.
Trees on their own are known to fight over resources. If you look under any typical tree, the roots generally reach half as deep and twice as wide as the tree we see above the ground. But, when the roots of two trees touch, a long battle for dominance starts - each wants exclusive rights to the water and minerals in the soil.
That is unless there is a particular type of fungus - the Mycorrhiza fungus - on the scene. An Oregon State University scientist has found that fungus not only reduces competition but on the contrary it inspires the trees to act as a team. Whether the trees are of the same species or different species, the presence of this fungus helps create an entire underground network for the trees.
The individual trees abandon their selfish nature and, with the aid of the fungus, start acting as a community. If one tree has access to water, another to nutrients, a third to sunlight, the trees begin sharing resources through this common fungal linkage between them.
In the same way, a common goal does to people what the fungus does to trees - it acts as a link to bind individual members of a team. In Satsang we may have different viewpoints, different opinions, different likes and dislikes, different natures, different methods but if we realize that we all represent One God, if we realize that we all represent One Guru, One Sanstha and One Goal, our differences will become secondary and we will be able to unite together as a team.
Our common beliefs and goals act as a glue to bind us all together into a team.
2. Each must play a role
But a common goal is not enough. Every member of a football team has a common goal - they all want to win the game. But that doesn't necessarily mean they will be able to work together.
Something more is needed-and that something has to do with the individual player's role. If the team is to be successful, each member has to play his role properly.
Football team: Quarter back,
Running back, Defense, Kicker.
In an American football team, the quarterback has to concentrate on playing the role of the quarterback. He can't say to himself that I'm sick of just throwing the ball all the time.
The running back has to concentrate on playing the role of the running back. He can't say to himself that I'm sick of running all the time; I want to throw the ball as well.
If the team is to be successful, the defense has to play defense. The punter has to punt, the kicker has to kick and the linesmen have to block. Each must concentrate on playing his role to perfection.
But of course the problem is that everyone wants the limelight. Everyone wants to be the man who gets all the glory.
Once a conductor of a famous symphony orchestra was asked what he thought was the most difficult instrument to play. He answered immediately that without a doubt it is the second violin. He said, 'I can find plenty of people to play the first violin because they are always noticed, but it is difficult to find people to play the supporting, background role of the second violin. Everyone wants to be in the limelight.
King, not always Award-winner
But, if we think about it, each part of the team, no matter how small, is just as important as any other part. The small gears of a watch are just as important as the big gears.
In a play there are many roles; someone has to play the king, someone the queen, some the soldiers, and some even have to play the minor role of the servants. But, the award doesn't always go to the king - which is the most glamorous role. The award for best acting may be given to the servant - which seems to be a background role. Whoever plays his role best will win the award.
In a successful team, each member must play his role, no matter how minor it may seem.
In the same way, if a Satsang mandal is to work harmoniously, the President must play the role of the President properly, the Yuvak Mandal must play the role of the Yuvak Mandal, and the Bal Mandal must be ready to play the role of that Bal Mandal. We can't have the case of too many chiefs and not enough Indians.
If a festival is to be successful, the Stage Program Dept. has to concentrate on playing its role, but so must the Cleanup Dept.
If a family is to work in harmony, the father must faithfully play the role of the father, the mother must be a mother, and the child must also be ready to play the role of the child.
In order to build a team, each member must concentrate on playing his/her role to perfection. This is the second requirement.
And lastly, in addition to having a common goal and playing one's role properly, teamwork's most important ingredient is: sacrifice. Each individual member has to be ready to give up something for the good of the whole. In a successful team, the goal is greater than the individual.
In Jan 1982, an Air Florida plane took off from Washington Airport. But in just a few seconds, it struck a bridge over the Potomac river and immediately crashed into the river throwing all of the passengers into the icy, cold water. When the National Guard Rescue helicopters came to the scene only 6 survivors were clinging to the tail section of the plane.
The rescue men lowered a rope and ring from the helicopter. One of the male survivors immediately helped another fellow passenger to the ring and signaled to the rescue squad. The helicopter returned to the river bank to drop off the rescued survivor. Four more times the helicopter returned to get another survivor and each time that man gave the ring to someone else. And when the helicopter returned the fifth time, the man could not be found - he had drowned in the waters. At some moment in his heroic act, the man must have realized that he could not possibly survive if he continued to give the ring to others. But still each time he gave the rescue ring to the others. He sacrificed his own life for the good of others. We don't have to die for others, but maybe we can sacrifice some of our likes and dislikes for the sake of the whole team. Maybe we can learn to tolerate others' faults and drawbacks for the sake of the team. Maybe we can be more kind and helpful to others. If we can do this much we will be able to make a successful team.
...So, as we have seen, the recipe for teamwork consists of three main ingredients:
1. A common goal,
2. Playing our role properly,
When a group or a team works with these three qualities, there is practically no limit to what they can accomplish. Yogiji Maharaj used to say: Apde whole Bombay rangi nakhie, jo 3 vastu hoy to - samp, suradaybhav and ekta. We can move all of Bombay if we desire, provided we have three qualities - Harmony, Friendship and Unity, provided we work together as a team.
Coming together is beginning, staying together is progress, but working together is Teamwork.