If a team doesn’t reach its potential, it is seldom because of its ability. It’s rarely a matter of resources. It’s almost always a payment issue.
One of the reasons teams fail to pay the price to reach their potential is that they misunderstand the “Law of the Price Tag.” Here are four facts about this law:
1. The Price Must Be Paid By Everyone
You have to give up something to be a member of the team. The team doesn’t quash individual accomplishment. Rather it empowers personal contributions. People who’ve never had the experience of being on a winning team often fail to realize that every team member must pay a price. Some think that if others work hard, they can coast to their potential. But that is never true. If everyone doesn’t pay the price to win, then everyone will pay the price by losing.
2. The Price Must Be Paid All the Time
Many people have what is called “destination disease.” Some people mistakenly believe that if they can accomplish a particular goal, they no longer have to grow. It can happen with almost anything: earning a degree, reaching a desired position or receiving a particular award. But effective leaders cannot afford to think that way. The day they stop growing is the day they forfeit their potential—and the potential of their organization.
3. The Price Increases If the Team Wants to Improve, Change, or Keep Winning
Have you ever noticed how few back-to-back champions there are in sports? Or how few companies stay at the top of Forbes magazine’s list for a decade? Becoming a champion has a high price. But remaining on top costs even more. And improving upon your best is even more costly. The higher you are, the more you have to pay to make even small improvements.
If you want to run a race at a faster pace, you must pay by training harder and smarter. The same principle applies to teams. To improve, change or keep winning as a group, the team must pay a price and so must the individuals on it.
4. The Price Never Decreases
Most people who quit don’t give up at the bottom of the mountain; they stop halfway up it. Nobody sets out with the purpose of losing. The problem is often a mistaken belief that a time will come when success will suddenly get cheaper. But life rarely works that way.
When it comes to the “Law of the Price Tag,” there are really only two kinds of teams that violate it: those who don’t realize the price of success and those who know the price but aren’t willing to pay it. No one can force a team member to have the will to succeed. Each member must decide in his or her own heart whether the goal is worth the price that must be paid. But every person ought to know what to expect to pay in order for a team to succeed.
To become team players, you and your teammates will have at least the following required of you:
Sacrifice: There can be no success without sacrifice. James Allen observed, “He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much.” When you become part of a team, you may be aware of some of the things you will have to give up. But you can be sure that no matter how much you expect to give for the team, at some point you will be required to give more. That’s the nature of teamwork. The team gets to the top only through the sweat, blood and sacrifice of its team members.
Team Commitment: Teamwork does not come cheaply. It costs you time—that means you pay for it with your life. It takes time to get to know people, to build relationships with them and to learn how you work together.
Personal Development: The only way your team will reach its potential is if each member reaches their potential. That desire to keep striving, to keep getting better, is a key to your own ability, but it is also crucial for the betterment of the team.
Unselfishness: People naturally look out for themselves. The question “What’s in it for me?” is never far from most people’s thoughts. But if a team is going to reach its potential, its players must put the team’s agenda ahead of their own. And if you give your best to the team, it will return more to you than you give, and together you will achieve more than you can do on your own.
The rewards of teamwork can be great, but there is always a cost.