Thursday, December 9, 2010

Anjali - And the Spirit of Team Work

We were playing the numbers and alphabets game, me and Anjali. This game has four boards and we usually choose one, or rather she chooses for both, based on the colour. We then fish for the little tablet like pieces with numbers and alphabets printed on either side from a bag and match them with what we have on the board. Something like scrabble but much simpler.
Anjali and her team, Ms. Lamb and Mr. Teddy, celebrating
And so we started. I played first and then she did. And then I reached out for the bag for my next piece when she screamed, all agitated. 'Nanna, it is not your turn.' I tried to explain that it was my turn since she had already played. She gave me that accusing look that reduces me to wonder what I did wrong and said - 'It is Teddy's turn, nanna'. And that was when I noticed that Mr. Teddy and Ms. Lamb, two white stuffed toys of hers, were also seated at the table, their boards in front of them. 'They are also playing nanna,' she informed me. 'What will they do otherwise?'

Fair question. I asked her how they will play. 'They can't move their pieces Anjali,' I told her. 'How will they play?' She had that one figured out. 'It is okay nanna,' she told me. 'I will play for them.' And with that she proceeded to give them both one piece each from the bag, much to the delight, I am sure, of Mr. Teddy and Ms. Lamb. (I somehow suspect Ms. Lamb really misses Anjali when she goes to school because Ms. Lamb has an expression that I can't bear to look at. I usually put Ms. Lamb in the back seat on the way back because I can't cope with all the sadness in the front seat.) Anyway, both Teddy and Lamb were happy at being allowed to play, or so they looked.

Of course Anjali used a completely different tone to the one she uses with me when she addressed the duo of Mr. Teddy and Ms. Lamb. She was ever so gentle, caring and soft with them. 'Okay Teddy,' she said making Teddy sit properly. 'I will play for you and Lamb okay?' And she gave them a smile that all is taken care of.

Also the rules of the game changed, some more. Now any piece we got from the bag which was not useful for us, had to be given to someone else who needed it. Less wastage. Faster results. Everyone is happy. We finished the game faster in a flurry of 'Do you need it' or 'Lamb needs it,' or 'Teddy does not have it'. There did come a stage when we started giving away even those pieces that we needed to someone else. And, you know what, it felt better than keeping it on my board and gloating over it.

But team spirit is exactly that as I understood it. You take those along with you, who cannot do certain things that you can, that you are privileged to. You make team believe that they belong and make them comfortable. And by doing that you bring a whole new synergy into the environment. Mr. Teddy and Ms. Lamb seemed to come alive - and when you do the same thing with people, you can see them come alive too. Believe me, try it, and see it for yourself. The best teams buzz with this spirit, this energy of being alive. They are fully supportive of one another, they take on someone who is three times their size, to fight for the cause of their friends, they back their friends to the hilt. They are willing to go that extra mile for them, unconditionally, for no reason. Common goals apart, the best teams are built on foundations of compassion, love. In fact their common goal seems to give, rather than take.

Lance Armstrong writes in his autobiography 'It's not about the bike', of life in the peloton, the group of cyclists that race together comprising of different teams, of how the team looks out for one another, even competitors. He talks of giving up a stage race (a part of the race) to a competitor (Armstrong was in control of the final result anyway), and the competitor needed to take something home for his outstanding effort that day. Of course, he did it as a salute, not as a derogatory gesture. Another particular incident he writes about is how a competitor, his main rival stops riding (Ullrich was it?), when he notices that Armstrong has taken a fall, letting him make up for the time he lost for no fault of his. Life is really stranger than fiction.And more heartwarming.

In life also, I realized, we can give away stuff we don't need, which is good. But to give what another person needs, even if it is what you need as well, brings a special pleasure to the heart. Charity is not a word I like so much, I prefer team spirit better. Because it means that we are all equal and today I give you what you need, as an equal member of my team, one that I care for.


Unknown said...

Well-written piece, Hari. I enjoyed reading this one. Hats off to you for distilling the essence from a semingly amusing and whimsical child play. We all have a lot to learn from our little ones' attitudes, especially Anjali's.

Harimohan said...

Thanks Ramvan. I agree with you completely; children are so pristine in their acts and reactions. Much for adults to see a different perspective and learn (or is it unlearn?) from.