In 1981, the Georgia Bulldogs won the National Championship. (I know you Auburn and Bama fans get tired of me writing about Georgia. I will lighten up in the next few weeks.) Each player wore a tee shirt with the above two words. In the most simple way, it illustrates how a successful team operates; each member is but a component of the bigger organization. This doesn’t just apply to football. Teams succeed and fail in businesses, charities, families, networks of friends, the armed forces, and hundreds of other examples. (I have been a part of successes and failures.) Here is what I have learned: Teams face adversity. While the character of individuals and teams are sometimes difficult to assess, when faced with adversity, character become easy to identify. When we face “trying times” as a team or alone, most of us naturally turn to those around us for guidance. Time, and time again the importance of establishing common goals, good habits, and loyalty to the team has proven invaluable to teams performing under the most immense pressure. Often adversity can force individuals and teams to achieve the un-expected and extraordinary in tough situations A few years ago, a talented college football team lost their two best players (both were running backs) due to injuries in the first game of the season. These players were so talented that either could have won the Heisman Trophy that year. The anticipation for a stellar season was seemingly lost by fans, players, and coaches. But conventional wisdom proved to be incorrect. Rather than unravelling, the team ended up winning ten games; beating two teams that were heavily favored. How did this happen? There are many theories. But, a close look showed with the power of team work and the ability to apply useful habit building developed during the months before the first game, the team compensated for the loss of those running backs by making adjustments and “stepping up.” The injured players took part in every team building exercise during the season, encouraged the two replacement running backs, and “remained part of the team.” Their devotion to teamwork inspired the rest of the team, particularly the offense, to actually excel more than anticipated before the injuries. The team smiled in the face of adversity. COMMON GOAL - Essential to working toward a common goal are the mutual desires, reliance and character of the individuals who make up that team. Successful businesses have one common goal that every member of the organization must be focused on. Achieving a healthy, high performing environment is built upon a group of people who are willing and passionate about achieving the common goal. Even one team member who does not believe in the goal can bring an organization to its knees. HABIT – I recently read a column where Aristotle was quoted. He said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. In the world of teams and competition, the dynamics of an environment can be vulnerable to change and instable from; injuries, sickness, personal problems, and many others. Maintaining stability within the organization fosters growth, better performance, and strength. This allows for the fearless evaluation of what habits are being followed and those that need work. LOYALTY – This is the one attribute that cannot be learned. You are either loyal or not. It also may be the most important attribute a team must possess during a time of adversity. What does the team do when an injured player, co-worker, worker, or soldier must be have respite, recuperate, or look after a loved one? There are only two choices; (1) support and extend a hand to your team member and adjust your team, or (2) leave the wounded soldier on the battlefield. The first choice is always made by teams who smile in the face of adversity.