I wish I’d been taught yoga in high school instead of field hockey. I wish I’d begun learning to breathe and balance and move and sit and sweat and smile and release when I was sixteen. Or twelve.
Imagine if there had been no teams to be chosen, no competition, no winners, no losers. Imagine if I’d put my energy into arm balances and inversions instead of pom-pom squad tryouts. If I’d learned to be present, to relax, to not know.
What if before parent's night, we’d all brought home notes inviting mom and dad to wear clothes they could move in. Then when everyone gathered in the gymnasium, the principal said something like, “Welcome. Each young person in this room is gifted. Each student’s gifts manifest in different ways - our job is to support their uniqueness with a strong base, so when they leave this school for whatever they next choose it is with an open heart and a spirit of exploration. Now ladies and gentlemen, set aside your chairs, bring your hands to your heart and prepare to flow.”
Many would argue that a team sports experience is good, even necessary for success in adult life and work. Teams can lift moods and rally individuals. Team performance can either inspire or disappoint entire cities and nations. But ultimately a team is nothing more than a structure that defines individual roles to achieve a certain end. Cooperation can be won by many things, like the promise of money, fame, power, or a giant gold ring engraved with roman numerals.
The willingness to set aside one’s ego to work on behalf of a partner, group or community comes from the heart, from a shared sense of the human experience. At its best, it is free of personal expectation, and (usually) jewelry.
My Third Island team fantasy?
Develop effective structures with clearly defined roles.
Fill them with people who learned yoga in high school.