The ‘Other Team’ dynamic

by Chris Chambers on April 29, 2013

Washington Nationals vs Pittsburgh Pirates Stephen StrssburgI’m a baseball guy. I love it – everything about it. Some people think baseball’s boring, but I’m fascinated by every second of the many hours it takes to play each game. In fact, the slow pace often lends itself to the fascination. A team that starts strong might get tired and blow the last inning to lose the game. A team that starts with a black cloud over them, after losing the previous series, might make a particularly stunning play and get a second wind in the 8th inning to win the game.

And the team dynamic is key to the game, and sometimes wild to witness. Chemistry is everything. The result? Some teams are so good it’s awe-inspiring to watch. A good example would be the 1986 Mets (says a 42-year Mets fan). Meanwhile, some teams are so bad that they make their hometown fans cry. Listing names here would just be mean, so I’ll refrain.

Then there’s something that I call the ‘other team’ dynamic. It occurs when your baseball team is both brilliant and terrible…depending on who they’re playing. In this case, your team’s level of play fluctuates per game (sometimes per inning) to match their current opponent’s level of play.

When they play a good team, they’re stellar. When they play a bad team, they’re awful.

This is eternally frustrating for fans who watch the bad days pulling their hair and yelling, “But you’re better than this! I’ve seen you do it!” at the TV.

And, sometimes fans go in assuming the worst, then suddenly, their team rises to the challenge, and it’s a beautiful thing to see that potential unleashed. It’s like just being around the greatness of the ‘better’ team acts as this strong and powerful push. A push that helps them soar.

My interest liens in the way this dynamic demonstrates the ability of any group to rise to the occasion, to make them better than anyone ever thought they could be. As the direct result of a higher bar being placed before them. Some people just need a push.

Sometimes the groups we work with remind me of these fans after a series of bad days. Because they frequently assume that their team will lose. That their people won’t ‘get’ a challenging learning activity. That a double entendre will go over their heads. That a group won’t be able to connect the dots.

And, I think, “but you got it.” We gave you a challenge and you rose to meet it. So, why wouldn’t everyone else? And why wouldn’t we take the opportunity to make them reach up?

The point of coming together to learn, the point of corporate assembly, is take it up a notch. To set the bar higher and then to reach it. We’ve seen it time and time again. How people rise to an occasion. How they can surprise even themselves in a learning situation. We’ve seen that they love the challenge, the reach and the win.

And all it takes is a little push.

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