Ubuntu: how to become better as a team

There is an African proverb that says: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” In this life, we need to have a team. And a team works best when all the team players have synergy. In this post, I will explain why the concept of Ubuntu is crucial for a team.

The playbook

I discovered this word through the Netflix series: ” The Playbook “. In this series, a couple of coaches tell their stories. One of those coaches was Doc Rivers. At the time he was the coach for the Boston Celtics and the players were all just thinking of themselves. In Basketball, the ego plays a big role. To win a championship, he needed the team to play together as a team. One evening a woman walks up to him and mentions the concept of Ubuntu. He looked it up and was hooked immediately.


Ubuntu is an African way of life that holds the value of the group in great regard. The saying goes:

I am because we are.

This way you hold each other accountable. But more importantly, you help each other when needed. Doc Rivers translated this to: “I can’t be all I can be unless you are all you can be”. So for the players needed to be at their best game, they needed their teammates to be their best too. As a consequence, they regarded the team as a family and really looked out for each other on and off the field. As a result, they got better as a team.

Not only on the field

Now this is great for a sports team to win. But Ubuntu can also be used in “real life”. Just consider how many teams you’re part of. Family team, friends team, work team. Whether you’re a manager or part of a team at work, you have a responsibility to the team. Now I’m not saying work your ass off for the company until you burn out. But rather, what can you do for others within your team so that they can perform at their best. And therefore you can improve your “A” game.

Source Image: Unsplash, Ian Macharia

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