Success is rarely a one person show. You can accomplish much on your own, but you can accomplish much, much, more with a team. The attempt to “go it alone” is appealing and many choose that path, but it can be a catastrophic mistake. A mistake that you should avoid on your quest for success.
There are many contributing factors to achieving success and happiness. The concept of a “team”—acknowledging, understanding, and embracing team—can be the difference between success and failure.
Your success may hinge on the acceptance, and proper application, of team principles in your life. There is little in life that is as effective, or as satisfying, as being part of a group of people who are pulling together to meet common goals. You don’t climb Mount Everest alone, and you don’t succeed alone—no one does!
Anti-Team: Working Against Each Other
My brother and I are fairly close in age. As a result, we did just about everything together when we were growing up. We camped together, fished together, hiked together with our dogs, and we also schemed together. This all sounds quite amiable, but as with all brothers we also fought together—a lot.
Chores were a regular part of our life. One of our chores was to take care of the family garden. This involved regular weeding, raking, hoeing, and when no one was looking…eating. One warm summer day our parents went out and left us home to tend the garden. They probably just wanted to get away from us—I would.
We were behind the metal garden shed hoeing rows of potato hills. It was hot, and we were both a little grumpy for being left behind. It wasn’t long before my brother and I were involved in a heated exchange. He must have done something wrong—it couldn’t have been my fault.
In the heat of the moment my brother swung his hoe at me like a baseball bat. I quickly jumped out of the way, and the business end of the hoe—the sharp metal head—stuck firmly into the aluminum wall of the shed. I hate to think what would have happened if it would have hit me. He quickly tried to pull the hoe out, but it was stuck. He looked at me in horror. I smiled and jumped on him with both fists swinging.
This is not teamwork! This is not a team. It is an entirely different beast.
Define Team: Working Together
My step dad was an avid outdoors man. He loved nature, and as a result my brother and I grew up with a tremendous appreciation for the outdoors. We would go camping almost every weekend, hiking whenever we had the opportunity, and everyday we would explore the bush around our house with our dogs.
When we were quite young our step father would take us into the bush, and he would often push us to do things that older boys would struggle with. One camping trip required several canoe portages from one river to another. The canoe could be carried by an adult with ease, but it was heavy and awkward for a young boy. He never wanted to take it easy on us so he simply said, “You figure it out boys.” And off he went into the bush.
We didn’t want to be left behind, so we each quickly grabbed an end and started our journey. It was not an easy task. Every step was agony. At times it felt very much like we were wrestling with the canoe. We slowly and painfully trudged through the bush, under fallen logs, over dead fall, fighting our way through dense underbrush. My brother would fall to his knees, and then I would stumble. Shortly after it would be my turn to fall. This went on for what seemed an eternity. Many hours later, and after much grunting and sweating, we pulled the canoe out of the bush and put it into the water…together.
My brother and I succeeded because we pulled together to meet a common goal. Alone we would have fallen—literally—alone we would have failed, but together we succeeded. That is the power of a team.
This is teamwork! This is a team. Anything else is a perversion of the team concept.
G Strategies™ | Growth Strategies for Success™
If you look back on your life you will find many positive and negative team experiences. You have been on teams that made your life and work easier, and made play a lot more fun. You have also been on teams that didn’t have a clue, and those experiences were not likely very fun at all. In fact, they probably sucked the life and energy out of you.
Unfortunately, we often carry our negative experience with us, and they tend to muddy the waters. Bad team experiences can scar a person—I originally wrote “scare a person” by accident and that would also be true—and leave a bad taste in their mouth. It can become tempting to simply “go it alone.” That would be a mistake, and only you will suffer from that approach. Your success is at stake here.
Bad experiences should never control your destiny. When a so called “team” is not functioning properly, it is simply not a team. At that point you have two choices. Be the solution, and help to fix the problem. Or, if the group doesn’t not wish to become a functional team, then let go, and move on.
Don’t abandon the idea of team. Abandon the dysfunctional group that you are part of—but only after you have tried to be a change agent—and build a functional team of people who will pull together to achieve a common goal.
Never let a dysfunctional team live to see another day.