By Jack Cumming

If you’re like me, you love those exciting moments when an underdog team rallies from way behind to excel in the closing minutes of the game to win. I should confess that I’m only a spectator athlete. I’ve never had any athletic prowess of my own. You don’t have to be an athlete to be a winner.

What I’ve seen, however, is that the spirit of a team is something apart from the abilities of the team members or the rhetoric and inside tips of an inspiring coach. It’s that team spirit that lifts a fourth-quarter losing team into a come-from-behind winning team.

A Fourth-Quarter Team

My friend Beth Fitzgerald, a career coach, recently reminded me of the lesson we can draw from this sports example. In her case, the University of Pennsylvania basketball team was losing badly to Harvard. Penn fans were starting to leave in disgust when their team suddenly caught fire. Her story doesn’t end well. In the end, as she puts it, Penn didn’t lose the game. They simply ran out of time.

Think about this. There weren’t two Penn teams — a losing team and a winning team — on that basketball court. They were the same team. What happened was that they suddenly came together as a team, working as one, supporting each other, achieving success. As Beth put it, “They were stealing balls and blocking shots, all of which had been nonexistent in the first three-fourths of the game.”

An All-the-Time Team

What kind of team do you field where you work? Are you a come-from-behind team, terrible one moment and great the next? Or, is the team you work on a great team all the time, every day, and every minute of the day? It’s not the boss, any more than it’s the coach in sports. The coach isn’t on the floor.

It’s the team and how they play and collaborate that makes the difference. If you’re part of an always-on team, doing great things together, you can feel pride in all you achieve. If you achieve all that despite the boss and, perhaps, regardless of a lousy company culture, all the more credit to you for making your team great.

You Can Feel Great

You know you can win in the last quarter. You know you can win all the time. Be the catalyst that makes your team the greatest team that ever came to work. When your team is great, you’ll feel great too.