The boat itself, balanced and secured outside the boat club, was tied up in cobwebs and scurrying spiders, as we hefted it out and overhead, then placed it in the water with the greatest of care.

Everything was off last night. The humidity made the air thick and hard to row through. We got into the boat one at a time, calling out our seat number unsteadily, as if a question.

Usually, we put one foot on the boat and one on the dock to get in all together, then ring out our numbers in rapid succession.

We rowed the 1,500 meters fast and hard to the yacht club, then turned around and were back to the boat club in a race, our boat inching ahead of the competition. I was ready to dock, ready to climb out, ready to be done, but then the coach said that we had time still, and sent us rowing under the bridge.

imageWe rowed all the way to the end of the island, the Ambassador Bridge in view, the choppy waters shifting us up and over waves, making our strokes uneven. We turned the boat, rested for a bit, then started our climb back toward the boat club, when Steve told us again we had time and again to row down toward the yacht club.

I was beyond tired, but when you’re in a boat for eight people, you row until everyone stops. There is no quitting. Was I going to jump out of the boat and swim back? Of course not.

When you’re part of a team, you go the distance. You keep it up until the coach calls quits.

Of course, when you’re finished, no matter how wet, tired, sweaty or fed up, you’re glad you did it. And last night, I certainly was.

When I work out by myself, I never go as hard or as long as when I have a team around me to spur me forward. I think of the summer master swim that I love so much, and mourn its finish, knowing I don’t have that team spirit again until next June.

imageWe have three weeks left of rowing, and then this team will end, too. Today on a call with a client, we discussed media prep for an impending interview with a new employee who is eager to burst forth and do her job above and beyond well. And yet, she doesn’t realize she’s flying solo.

I want to emphasize the team aspect of this, my client said. It’s all about the team. We don’t want to squelch her enthusiasm. I’m thrilled that she is so eager.

That’s the sum total of it. With the team, we can do so much more, so much faster, so much better. Without the team, we think we are unencumbered but really, we limp along, hindered by what we don’t know, slowed by our independence.

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