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Team EffortTeam Effort
by Rubel Shelly

Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

    It has been almost a year ago now that Erik Weihenmayer did a most extraordinary thing. He stood atop the 29,035-foot peak of the world’s highest mountain. He conquered Mount Everest as one member of a team of nineteen hardy, determined souls. Oh, yes. There’s one other thing. Erik is blind.

    In order to be the first blind person ever to achieve this feat, the 32-year-old American knew he had to be part of a larger group committed to the same goal. He put his full faith and confidence in sighted people such as Eric Alexander, Luis Benitez, and Jeff Evans. They arrived at their goal on May 25, 2001.

    In an interview with a CNN reporter on the afternoon of his success, Erik spoke by phone of the “team accomplishment” he had shared. He spoke of sponsors, people who were on the mountain with him, and many who were not there but who had prayed for him. “I felt like, when I got to the top, I was on the shoulders of lots and lots of people,” he said. “It wasn’t just me standing there.”

“...when I got to the top, I was on the shoulders of lots and lots of people.”
    The same thing can be said of every great achievement. If a single researcher in her lab makes a monumental discovery, it was on the basis of what hundreds of others contributed through their work and publications in the field. Even if it is an athlete or musician whose great moment is unshared on the field or stage, there are hosts of people who inspired, taught, and otherwise made their contributions to that one bright, shining moment.

    There are some worthwhile and challenging goals you have for your life that will be too much for you alone. It isn’t a sign of weakness but intelligence to realize you will need help. So don’t hesitate to surround yourself with people of similar goals, more extensive experience, and skills superior to your own. The best way to learn is to attach yourself to others who already know more about what is important to you. And here’s a fact that may surprise you: Most of them will be eager to share their experience and insights with you.

    Erik admits to be “scared all the time” on his ascent. But he continued to trust his partners — and kept putting one foot in front of the other.

    In your career, family, or personal spiritual life, the notion of going it alone will be a disastrous mistake. If you are willing to stand on the shoulders of others, you can go places that otherwise would be out of reach.

    If you doubt it, just ask Erik Weihenmayer how he got to the top.

      © 2002, Rubel Shelly. Used by permission. From Rubel Shelly's "FAX of Life" printed each Tuesday. See Faith Matters for previous issues of the "FAX of Life."

      Title: "Team Effort"
      Author: Rubel Shelly
      Publication Date: May 5, 2002

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 About the Author
Rubel ShellyRubel Shelly has preached for the Woodmont Hills Church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee since 1978. He is the author of more than 20 books. For more details, click here.


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