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  • Writer's pictureNeal Hagberg

The Power of “We”

When she crossed the finish line and collapsed, after a lifetime of training, brutal workouts, and a grueling finish, she said, “We did it!”

Wait, this was an individual event. Jessie Diggins had just won a bronze medal at the Winter Olympics, the first individual medal by a U.S. Olympian in women’s cross country ski history.

And Jessie Diggins said all she could think of in the final stretch was hanging in there for the team. That this was a team medal. Even though it wasn’t in the eyes of the world.

She had trained with these teammates. She had been encouraged by them, pushed to her best by them, and as the oldest member of the team, she had mentored them along, pushed them to their best. It was a celebration of everyone on that team.

The famous saying is there is no “I” in “TEAM”. But sometimes I like to say, “Yes, but if you grab a couple letters out of order you can make “ME”!

None of us make it on our own. And when we think we do, we fail to honor those who brought us to whatever success we have found.

I can tell you that for each “individual” accomplishment I have had in my life, there have been countless people who taught me, mentored me, encouraged me, connected me, reached out to me. Nothing I have done has been “I”. It has all been “we”. So why do I, and maybe some of you, have the need to stand alone, take the bow, be acknowledged singularly?

That would take too many therapy sessions to explain. But let me boil it down to this in my case. Whenever I choose the “I” road, it is usually because of insecurity that “what I do is who I am”, therefore I have to individuate from everyone else to justify my worth.

When I am able to live in the space of “who I am is enough”, then my actions take on a broader, more inclusive welcome that opens the door and opens the world to teach me it is always “we”.

We are in this together, whether we want to be or not.

We are shaped and molded and become successful because of others, whether we want to admit it or not.

Jessie Diggins instinctively exclaimed “We did it!” at the finish line. She meant it.

A good friend once caught me using a lot of “I” statements. He was kind enough to ask me to listen to myself, and every time I was tempted to use the word “I” when it came to an accomplishment, try replacing it with “we”. It has made a world of difference in my life, and the entire feeling inside me changes when I do this. It is simple. Try it.

I have far to go in understanding this and practicing it. But “we” will get me there or remind me I’m part of a community much bigger than myself in a way “I” never will. I am a part. A necessary part. But a part. As is everyone else.

At TLC, I have learned from more people who believe in “we” – staff and campers, including my good friend – than anywhere else I have been in my life. I will consciously choose to continue to learn from them as they embody the saying “There is no “I” in “team”. And there isn’t a “me”, either.


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