California's redwoods are the world's tallest trees. Some top 350 feet and are more than 2,000 years old. One might think that trees so large would have a tremendous root system reaching hundreds of feet into the earth. Not true.
The redwoods have a very shallow root system, but they intertwine. The trees support and protect each other. When storms come or winds blow, the redwoods stand together. There is strength in numbers.
To drive home the power of teamwork and sticking together, I sometimes do a visual exercise. I hold up a bundle of six pencils and try to break them in the air and then over my knee. The average person can't break the bundle. Then I take one pencil out and easily snap it in two. I point out that if you help each other, you will be like the bundle of pencils. No one can break you apart. But if you are divided, you can be broken as easily as a single pencil.
Unity consistently produces greater results than individual endeavors. Teamwork divides the effort and multiplies the effect.
In a county fair pulling contest, the first-place horse moved a sled weighing 4,500 pounds. The second-place finisher pulled 4,000 pounds. The owners of the two horses decided to see what they could pull together. They hitched them up and found that the team could move 12,000 pounds -- 3,500 pounds more than each alone.
Sharing the blue-ribbon corn
Another story: A farmer each year entered his corn in the State Fair, where it won a blue ribbon. One year a newspaper reporter learned something interesting about how the farmer grew it.
The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors. "How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?" the reporter asked.
"Why, sir," said the farmer, "did you know that the wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field? If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn."
Phil Jackson, coach of the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers, frequently reads poetry to his players. To inspire them on the subject of teamwork, he once read these lines from Rudyard Kipling's 1895 poem "The Law of the Jungle:"
Now this is the Law of the Jungle -- as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back --
But the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.
Mackay's Moral: Nature is full of examples of teamwork. Teamwork should be part of your nature.