Although it was a long time ago, I can still remember liking school…elementary school, high school, and college. I had good teachers and enjoyed learning about all sorts of things. I even enjoyed doing homework. Looking back on my total school experience, however, it is obvious that the most important lessons I learned never took place in a classroom. They took place on a basketball court, a football field, and a baseball diamond. I learned more life lessons from playing sports than I did from sitting in a desk.

Why do I say this?

  • My experience as a student was largely private and independent. I accomplished things on my own. I value this. I have developed the ability to be responsible and get things done by myself.
  • My experience as an athlete was collaborative and interdependent. We accomplished things by working together as a team. I value this. I have developed the ability to ask for help and depend on the gifts and talents of others.

Both of these ways of operating are important, but as I consider what ‘I’ accomplished during the past week, it was all done with collaboration.

  • I bought a Christmas tree, but my son-in-law Mike carried it into our house.
  • I wrote Wellness Wednesday, but Kevin prepared it to be mailed to you.
  • I cooked several meals, but my wife Paula shopped for the food.
  • I finalized a huge order from a school district for our Top 20 curriculum, but our partners at Master Teacher printed the curriculum and delivered boxes to the schools.
  • I submitted a proposal to a Texas school district for training, but Ron examined the proposal to make sure all the legal documents were in order.
  • I created the text for a flyer to advertise our winter training, but Mike used his artistic and technical skills to make it appealing and easy for educators to register.
  • I had some ideas for a new Top 20 initiative to support young teachers, but Tom and Willow suggested some things I had not considered.
  • I did a presentation to 40 principals, but Lisa and Tim from Minnesota Independent School Forum made all the arrangements.

Yes, I brushed my teeth by myself and I’m certainly grateful to still be able to do that; however, very little in my life would be accomplished or even possible without collaborating with others.

Collaborate: to work jointly on an activity, especially to produce or create something.

I would argue that all great achievements by the human race have occurred when someone took personal responsibility AND collaborated with others. On the other hand, our inability to accomplish great things has resulted from our inability to collaborate. Great things happen when we meet each other.

What does this mean for us as parents and educators who are forming the lives and impacting the future of young people? We need to help them develop independent responsibility AND collaborative teamwork.

I am asking the question, “How can we best do that?” Let’s collaborate on the answer.

Please let us know if there is any way we at Top 20 can collaborate with you to make something wonderful happen.

From my chief collaborators…Kevin Brennan, Willow Sweeney, and Tom Cody…whose gifts and talents make special things happen.

Paul Bernabei
Top 20 Training