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Friday, July 12, 2013

Team Player or Individual?

They say that if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.

There’s also a Beatles song that tells us we can get by with a little help from our friends.

Which do you agree with?

Team players on a personal or professional level often assist in bringing something to fruition.  And being a team player is a great thing - a team player tends to work very well with others, and playing a strong supportive role can be quite important to a team’s success.

But what about the individual who accomplishes so much alone?  This person gets it all done, and gets it done well.  The person plans a result and lays out the plan to arrive at this result, and makes it happen.  It may be the case that this person doesn’t work well with others, or perhaps he/she is simply determined to get the job done on his/her own terms, time, etc., without the assistance (or possibly hindrance) of others.  Not exactly a team player - wouldn’t you agree?

Wonderful Bordeaux blends
Which would you rather be?  Do you like the concept of sharing responsibilities, making for a lower risk undertaking, but the end result showing the characteristics of all who are involved?  Or do you prefer having your name, and your name alone, on a project?  It’s your own project, with all the details planned and executed solely by you.  Everything about the project demonstrates your very own identity - there’s no mistaking it for someone else’s work.  It’s definitely all yours.

With wine grapes, we’ve got blends, and varietal wines that are made from just one grape type.  I’m not saying you need to have a preference - I certainly don’t prefer one over the other.  But both have their virtues.

Take Bordeaux blend wines.  Bordeaux are generally made up of mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.  Sometimes, there are also small amounts of Petit Verdot, Malbec, and even Carmenere.  That’s quite a team, and those teams of grapes tend to produce some truly outstanding wines.  But each of those grapes is perfectly capable of standing alone on its own.  In a blend, there will be complexity and depth and hopefully great balance, but no single grape type characterizes the blend.

The same applies to Rhone style blends - generally made up of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, but often include small amounts of Cinsault and Carignan as well.  Again, much like Bordeaux grapes, each of those grapes is capable of standing alone, but they also work well as a team.

Red Burgundy - Pinot Noir - some of the greats
And then there’s a grape like Pinot Noir.  Take a look at a bottle labeled “Burgundy,” or better still, “Bourgogne Rouge,” or anything of the like.  Red Burgundies are made from Pinot Noir.  There’s very little guesswork involved - it’s Pinot Noir, and we know it.  We know what to expect, in a sense.  And when we open the bottle and observe the wine by looking at it, and taking note of the aromas and flavors and textures, it’s safe to say that it’s Pinot Noir.  That’s because Pinot Noir stands alone.  Pinot Noir is not a team player, but rather an individual, and quite a successful individual at that.  Pinot Noir gets the job done alone, and oftentimes, Pinot Noir, particularly from Burgundy, are among the most expressive red wines to be found.  A properly executed red Burgundy tells the story of the grape, the soil composition, the oak used, and what the weather was like that particular vintage.  With minimal intervention from the winemaker, Pinot Noir is free to take its own path and result in something great, and there’s no mistaking it for anything else.  Sure, it may be a higher risk wine due to the nature of the grape and the fact that the outcome could be affected positively or negatively quite easily as everything depends on the Pinot Noir, but isn’t it worth it?  Of course it is!  And the result is a great Pinot Noir wine.  Growing and producing great Pinot Noir requires so much determination, patience, care, and even a bit of faith, but in the end, certainly it’s worthwhile, and once you’ve tasted a great Burgundy...well, just go and try some Burgundy and fall in love with Pinot Noir.

So if you’re a good team player, surely you’re quite valuable to plenty of people - you work well with others, you hold up your end of the responsibilities, and you come together to plan and bring about a good result.

But if you’re a loner like Pinot Noir, and you prefer to work as an individual, that’s something to be very proud of too.  May your risks pay off, may your identity be known, and may the fruit of your endeavors be everything you’ve hoped it would be.

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