TEAMWORK
  • Communicating information, sharing assignments and working cohesively with the FFL team
  • Appreciating and leveraging the strengths of others, relying on them for help, input and feedback
  • Volunteering to help someone else complete a task without expecting credit for it

COMMENTARY
Let’s talk about baseball. The World Series just started and approximately 213 days after the season began, we will find out who has the best team. That’s the thing about baseball. It’s a team sport.

For fans of the game, it’s always fun to talk about the individual accomplishments that fill the record books; The highest batting averages, the most homeruns, the lowest ERA. And of course the never-ending debates about who are the best hitters and pitchers of all time. But for all the discussion about who was the best player, the ultimate goal is to be the best team.
 
The baseball season is long. And professional athletes work hard all year to perfect their craft. Not just the superstars you know, but every player and coach on the roster goes through the grind. Aaron Judge doesn’t knock in more than 100 runs this season if Chase Headley or Brett Gardner isn’t already on base ready to score. They rely on each other to get the job done. Just like in E-rate, right?
 
Well…yeah. I mean aside form the commercial endorsements, fame, and multi-million dollar contracts; we’re just like professional baseball players. Not buying it? Fair enough, I’ll try to connect the dots for you.
 
E-rate is a year round sport. There is no off-season. (Actually, that does sound like a tag line in an E-rate commercial). It takes applicants, service providers, consultants, and USAC working together to ensure that all the applications make it from spring training workouts to the World Series.
 
There are no individual stats to fall back on. Nobody is reminiscing about how many funding requests I personally placed on applications 4 years ago. Or the record for most PIA reviews for a single applicant in a year (35 – FY2012). Although it would be quite an accomplishment to one day be inducted into the E-rate Hall of Fame. My plaque next to the great E-raters of all time…
 
Where was I…? Oh yeah.
 
Sometimes at work you are asked to take on duties that are not typically your responsibility in order to help the team. During the baseball playoffs a few weeks ago, a pitcher for the Cubs threw more pitches that game than he had during any outing all season. And another pitcher, who usually only starts games, was asked to enter late in the game for a relief appearance for the first time in years.
 
That’s the kind of teamwork we are talking about. Being willing to do whatever the team, company, applicant, etc. needs to move forward. In baseball they call it sacrifice. A sacrifice bunt, for example, giving yourself up to help the team get closer to the goal. Putting individual egos aside for the good of the group (I’m looking at you, USAC).   
 
Teamwork is a simple concept to understand. But it’s not always the easiest to apply. There are a lot of moving parts. It takes preparation, persistence, patience, and…alliteration.
 
At Funds For Learning, there is a clear focus on teamwork. Throughout the years, I’ve personally witnessed more examples of it than I can count. We have a group here that really cares about helping applicants get the most they possibly can out of the E-rate program. And we do it together.
 
So, while it can be fun to swing for the fences, I’d encourage you to also practice the lost art of bunting. It will serve the team well. 
 
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Key Words and Phrases
Reliance and interdependence; Common goals; Shared responsibility; Cooperation; Mutual accountability; Blended strengths; Esprit de corps; Trust in one another.

Opposite Terms
Going it alone; Not trusting others; Not supporting others; Not relying on others.

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