Carl Mays: How big and powerful is your club?

Mar. 09, 2013 @ 12:19 AM

A hunter was walking through the jungle when he saw a pygmy standing beside a huge dead rhinoceros. The hunter asked, “Did you kill this?” The pygmy replied, “Yes. It was charging.” Amazed, the hunter asked, “How in the world could a little guy like you kill such a huge beast?” The pygmy said, “With my club.” Flabbergasted, the hunter responded, “How big is your club?” The pygmy replied matter-of-factly, “There’s about sixty of us.”

Outstanding things can happen when a “club” of people get their acts together and work together for common goals. There is tremendous value when people selflessly work with one another, are there for one another and assist one another to achieve objectives. As the Book of Ecclesiastes proclaims: “One standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Just this week, a college basketball coach was asked what he thought was the biggest factor in the positive turnaround his team had made during the season. He said he thought much of it had to do with his finally being able to communicate to a couple of his players they needed to concentrate on how they could best help the team win rather than how they could best impress the professional basketball scouts with their individual skills. When they finally bought into the team concept wholeheartedly, the team began winning – and the players’ individual skills improved. Win-win.

There are business groups and other organizations pretty much in the same shape as the pre-turnaround basketball team. Some personnel don’t put as much emphasis on how they can best help the team and serve clients as on what they can do individually to get noticed and receive their own personal rewards – or just receive their paychecks. They have very little interest in the teamwork concept or in adding value for clients, which would benefit everyone. Such selfish actions sometimes pertain to individuals only; sometimes to departments within an organization.

When individuals or departments are not “club” players, they keep the entire organization from winning, and they never advance as they could. I have often written and said, “Individuals make the plays; teams win the championships.” In essence, the individual plays that really count are the ones that contribute to the team and to the team’s clients, customers or members – or, in the case of the basketball team, to its fans, supporters, school and community.

What we are talking about here is the value of cooperation and collaboration. I am not a frequent shopper, but my wife Jean tells me I am a good, thrifty shopper. I do look for deals, and have mentioned in previous columns how I have taken coupons or ads into stores, asked about a deal, and more than once the clerk or salesperson has acted surprised and said he or she didn’t know anything about it. Just recently, I took in a full-page newspaper ad and the salesperson shook his head and said, “They’re always doing this to us. They never tell us about these things.”

I read an article about a major national bank running a direct mail campaign that generated many applications for new credit cards. And then, the very next week, the bank’s home equity department appealed to the same customers, urging them to cut up their credit cards and consolidate debt with a home equity loan. The lack of cooperation and collaboration within this company left customers and potential customers confused and with less confidence in the company.

How big and powerful is your club?

© 2013 by Carl Mays, National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member and author, whose mentoring site is based on his “A Strategy For Winning” book and program. Contact or view