In order to become a good chess player, you have to understand the importance of teamwork. The only way you will be able to put together a successful mating attack or create defensive position for your king is by getting your pieces to work together. Whether it is linking your rooks into a powerful tandem or making a pawn chain to serve as a wall against your opponent’s advances, you have to make your pieces work in coordination with each other to be victorious. By combining the various abilities of each piece, you can maximize their abilities and compensate for their weaknesses, which will generate a synergistic effect that is far more powerful than each piece working on its own. While this is an extremely important concept on the chessboard, it is even more crucial in life. Working with others can help you to overcome adversity and achieve goals that you would never have been able to accomplish on your own.
There are hundreds of examples of how teamwork is critical to being successful, and I am sure you have heard about the importance of working together on numerous occasions before now. Since pretty much everyone is well aware of this concept and has probably been a part of several teams where working as a unit was vital to achieving your goal, I am not going to bore you with more efficiency expert mumbo jumbo. Instead, I am going to focus on an area of our lives where this idea is often forgotten about or overlooked, and how much more successful and happy we could be by applying this concept. Although we may be quick to coordinate with others at the office working on a group project, on the basketball court at the gym, and raising money at the local PTA meeting, we often fail to apply this idea with the most important team in our lives, our family. At home with our loved ones, although we are all working towards the same goal, we frequently assign tasks and have each family member work on their jobs individually. We even create weekly itineraries and schedules to make sure everyone knows their tasks (i.e. Mom picks up Billy from soccer Monday and Wednesday and Dad picks him up Tuesday and Thursday). While Billy may get home, and you may get everything else done with this formula, by working together you can accomplish so much more. Not only can you achieve more by doing less if you coordinate your efforts, in creating this synergy you will also become closer with your loved ones and create a stronger family bond.
I have always felt extremely fortunate that I was born into such an amazing family, because without the powerful connection between my family and I, there is no way I would be where I am today. Having such a stable, supportive family has (and always will) played a huge part in my success. I am really lucky to have this support system in my life, because in the United States roughly half of all marriages end in divorce. Though as of the most recent available data the divorce rate did go down for the first time in a long time, this is still a huge number of broken families. Studies have reached inconclusive results as to whether families with a child who is disabled divorce more often than families with healthy children (I won’t bore you with all of the results and statistics), but at the very least it is agreed that having a child who is disabled does add significant stress to the entire family. Marriage and parenting is hard for any family, but when you throw learning to live with a disability into the mix (be it having the disability or caring for someone who is disabled), it is even harder. When you step back and think about all of this, the fact that my family stayed together is really pretty special. And not only did my family remain intact, but we all have strong relationships and are quite close. The key to accomplishing this nearly miraculous feat was our ability to work together.
As any family of five or more people already knows, it takes a great deal of teamwork to make sure everything that needs to get done for the family is accomplished. Teamwork is even more important when you add all of the the jobs associated with a disability like mine on top of all of the typical household chores. As important as it was that my family work together in order to make sure the house ran smoothly and I was cared for (just getting my parents to work and my siblings and I to school on time was a carefully choreographed dance for five), this is not the type of teamwork I am talking about. I am talking about how we have always been able to pull together and use our various skills to get through difficult situations in our lives. By combining each of our personality traits, we are able to compensate for each other’s weaknesses and overcome obstacles that we never would have been able to defeat individually.
Every member of my family brings a different set of skills to the table, and by combining our diverse set of skills we are able to make it through any adverse situation life throws at us. Just like the different pieces on a chessboard compliment each other, so does my family’s skill sets. The way my dad is calm, cool, and collected in a crisis is a great compliment to my mom’s positivity and fun loving personality that keeps everyone smiling and optimistic. The way my sister’s ability to mediate disagreements between people pairs nicely with my brother’s selflessness and willingness to do anything to help others. And the way my ability to compartmentalize and remain objective helps keep everyone from making emotional, rash decisions. All of our various skills not only compliment each other creating a synergistic effect, but they also help make up for weaknesses in each other. In addition to being able to overcome any obstacle, knowing that you have this team to fall back on if necessary gives you the courage to dream big and set the bar high, because you know that you have a group of people who will come together to help you if you need them.
Just like a pawn is weak on its own yet by having multiple pawns work together you can create an impenetrable wall blocking your opponent, so too can a person who may not be able to overcome certain obstacles alone gain the strength to get through adverse situations by working with others. My family is proof that if you stick together and combine your skills with other’s that you can achieve almost anything. While you may be quick to work with a team in certain areas of your life, at home the concept of real teamwork is often forgotten. How often does your family come together to work through difficult times? Are you working together or working individually towards the same goal? Try to really work together the next time life throws your family a curveball. With some practice you will see how much easier life can be when you combine your family’s skills. This will not only help you overcome adversity, but also help to bring you and your family closer together, which is a gift in itself.