One day the Body and all its parts began to criticize the Belly for enjoying a life of idleness and luxury, while they spent all their time working to feed it.  So they entered into a conspiracy to cut off the Belly’s supplies in the future.

The Hands would no longer carry food to the Mouth, nor would the Mouth receive the food, nor would the Teeth chew it.  Not long after following this plan, the parts began to fail, and the whole body began to waste away.

Then the members realized that the Belly, which seemed cumbersome and useless, had an important function of its own.  They could no more do without it than it could do without them.  If they wanted to keep the body in a healthy state, they must work together, each in his proper sphere, for the common good of all.

The moral of this Aesop’s Fable:  Only by working together can the greatest good for all be achieved.

In a word, teamwork.

I preach teamwork constantly, for without it, why would you bother to have more than one employee?  Why would you contract with vendors, suppliers, distributors or even customers for that matter?

You have to work together.

Everyone wants to be the star.  Unfortunately, stars rarely win anything by themselves.  For any star to shine, they need a team behind them.

A true team consists of people who contribute different skills that all work together to achieve a goal that none of them could accomplish on their own.

BabeRuthAsk Babe Ruth if he could have won a single baseball game all by himself.  Ask Henry Ford if he could have built a car company all by himself.  Ask Thomas Edison if he could have made all his inventions all by himself.

No matter how good you are, you can be better when you work with the right team.  In the business world, you need to provide an atmosphere where teamwork is not only encouraged but expected.

More importantly, everyone on the team not only has to pursue the same goal, but they also have to feel that their role is crucial to the team’s success.

In 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy declared that he wanted the United States to put a man on the moon by the end of that decade.  Shortly afterwards, a newspaper reporter visited NASA and interviewed the engineers, technicians and scientists who were working on the rocket that would eventually put Neil Armstrong on the moon.

After interviewing everyone at NASA, the reporter saw a woman janitor scrubbing the front steps.  When the reporter asked this woman what her role in NASA was, she proudly said, “I’m helping put a man on the moon!”

When you have a goal that everyone can believe in, nothing can stop your team from accomplishing what seemed impossible.

To illustrate the importance of assembling a team, consider these questions:

Do you need more than one person?  Maybe the work calls for different skill sets or different perspectives.  Or maybe it’s just too much work for one person to handle.  For example, a chef alone can’t run a restaurant; waiters, busboys, dishwashers and other people are required. Form a team when you really need a concerted effort.

Will the project create a common purpose?  Sometimes forming a team is useful when you want to build a sense of teamwork in your department.  If the project will pull people together and give them a common goal to shoot for, a team can strengthen bonds and have a positive effect long after the task is completed.

Can you depend on the team members to support each other?  If the team consists of members who don’t get along or respect the others’ contributions, the work will suffer.  Promote team-building exercises and activities to enhance the group’s dynamics.  Provide opportunities for each team member to showcase their contribution.

Finally, does the project truly require a team to accomplish the goal?  If a project can be completed successfully by one person, why waste the skills and talents of otherwise busy workers?  Use teams wisely for best productivity.

Don’t underestimate the value of creating teamwork opportunities outside the normal business arena.  Company ball teams, choirs, volunteer projects and outings allow people to get to know each other on a different level, which can translate into better cooperation in the work place.


Mackay’s Moral:  Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success. 

About the author Harvey Mackay

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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