I was sent to a one week work-related seminar many years ago where one of the courses was the psychology of team-building. The instructor brought us out to the parking lot and broke the class into teams of five. I watched in horror as the instructor threw several mats on the roadway between two sidewalks and told the first team to crowd onto one mat and cross the road as a team from one mat to another without touching the pavement. I watched in more horror as the first team actually complied. They crammed together on one mat in a sea of human flesh and tried to cross onto the next mat without touching the pavement. It looked like a bad Twister commercial. Adult human flesh packed together trying cross the street. I got in my car and drove away. It was a low point. Time wasted on stupidity that had zero relevance to real-life. Someone later asked me where I went. I told him the truth, that I left in embarrassment. He looked sad and asked if I had fun at anything during the seminar. I told him no, that it was a 100% waste of time and put it in writing.
Team-building is a complex dynamic that goes beyond pizza nights, kayaking weekends, bowling trips, and campfire sing-alongs. Building a team can drive you nuts because getting a group of people to work hard at the same time, all the time, is one of the most difficult jobs on Earth because of the prevalent hatred toward physical and mental exertion. White-water rafting excursions won’t convince the lazy to work hard. Karaoke evenings will not change apathy and lethargy. Laziness is the biggest obstacle to any team building. Not just any ordinary obstacle, it’s mountainous. Compounding the problem is the fear of using the word lazy to describe the problem. Sugar-coating it won’t solve it.
A lazy team will get you killed – literally and figuratively. A lazy team guarantees losing. If you own a self-generated business, a lazy team will make you lose every dollar you own. If you coach a lazy football team, you will lose every game. If you work in a high-risk profession, a lazy team can make you lose your life. Laziness is a plague that will stop any team from winning. Left unchecked, a lazy team will become a burning hell to be around. Laziness is the number one killer of team success. Fist-pumping motivational seminars won’t change laziness. Dress-up and dress-down days won’t motivate a lazy team to put in the work to win big. And laziness is not created equal. There are multi-levels of laziness ranging from low to next-level off-the-charts full-fledged lost-cause laziness. Left unchecked, laziness becomes habitual. Chronic laziness doesn’t just change. It doesn’t change overnight and it doesn’t change on its own. I used to believe that you can motivate the lazy but it depends on the level of laziness. High-scale laziness is a threat to your team because business and sports teams don’t have the luxury of time. Deep-rooted laziness has to be changed in some safe place where survival isn’t at stake.
Laziness happens in two places – training and game-time. Lazy training, lazy game. Train like you fight, fight like you train. A lazy practice team becomes a lazy game team. It’s impossible to turn it on at game-time. It’s impossible for your game to exceed your training. True team-building centers on changing laziness. Cuddly group activity like crossing the street on mats is a symptom of not dealing with reality. Real-life is a contact sport. If you don’t train for it with live action, real-life will drive you into the boards face-first, leaving you crumpled on the ground like a cheap, wrinkled suit. Laziness is no match for real-life. I’ve told the story countless times about my collegiate club football team’s first season playing in the USA. Our team paid dearly for its laziness. My team needed white chalk and yellow tape. Our football games looked like crime scenes. They learned one of the painful definitions of insanity – trying to play at the next level with low level work ethic.
Be careful if you play on a lazy team because your lazy team is your biggest threat. Your enemy is not the competition. Your worst nightmare is a lazy team because you won’t have back-up.
Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., NCCP Level 3
owner – X Fitness Inc.
head coach – Oakville Longhorns football team
author – Soul of a Lifter