I have a new obsession: The Tour de France. If you would have asked me about bike racing or bicycles in my previous 35 years I would have scoffed and made a disparaging remark. No longer. Stage 8 and 9 of 21 occurred over the weekend and I was glued to the early morning broadcast of the cycling. The beautiful countryside shown by daring helicopter pilots and cameras, the supportive and crazy fans and the sheer endurance of these amazing athletes was on full display. Stage 8 was 116.5 miles of racing up and over several mountain passes with a gutty finish by a local Frenchman. Stage 9 was just two miles shorter over four similar narrow mountain passes with bad weather and terrible bicycle crashes. This stage was scary. Yet what has drawn me to this sport is not the spectacle, but the teamwork.
There are 22 teams competing with 9 riders per team which cover 2200 miles over 23 days with two days off for rest. There are several coaches, team medical personal, team travel coordinators, team cars that follow the riders with spare equipment, the team bus to coordinate warm up and warm down and transfer to each stage and hotel, and many dedicated to general race logistics. There are an estimated 300 people necessary per team to coordinate the race. Yet only 9 can participate in the race. It is logistically amazing to witness.
Well-oiled teams like the Patriots in the NFL, the Warriors in the NBA, or the Sky Team in cycling inspire me. It takes an entire organization of high performers on every level working towards a singular goal to win on these levels. It takes the same in business. Accepting anything other than the best or modifying the goal to fit our own needs detracts from the effort of the team and will derail the ability of the team to meet its goal. When I am part of a committed, competent team, I feel energized and engaged and I remember it for a long time. When I am part of a team that is not, I remember the frustration.