Self Improvement

Teamwork

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” Andrew Carnegie How do we discover and agree on a common vision if we all have a personal agenda. I have worked on teams that excelled and achieved uncommon results and worked with others on projects who believed that working together meant we all could do much less (because of our collective effort) and get the same results. The difference wasn’t the quality of the vision but rather the commitment of the people. Teams are relationships and not all people understand the commitment they make when they enter into a collective endeavor.

sharing

“When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines instinct with boldness and effort, it is ready to climb.” Patanjali Key to this quote is dedication and unselfishness before instinct, boldness and effort. Both require courage and both should be held to severe scrutiny. When joining others on a team project, their dedication and yours should be confirmed and an understanding arrived at that anyone can openly question another team members’ obligation to the common goals. Additionally if someone takes a selfish approach they should be subject to and willingly accept reproach. Then the gifts and talents become important and remarkable results will arise.

In the vein of easy to say harder to do, Casey Stengel said “Finding good players is easy. Getting them to play as a team is another story.” This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek the best people but team leadership needs to ensure through autonomy, mastery, and purpose that everyone is pulling the same ropes in the same direction. Any free loaders, malcontents and egoists should be released of their commitment and given the opportunity to seek other challenges. When that decision is needed, it needs to be fast, full and forceful – leaving no doubt or room for negotiation. Big, wicked problems can’t afford toxic participants on the solution focused team or the whole barrel becomes rotten.

Team leadership isn’t easy and it probably shouldn’t be. Disagreement is healthy, dissent necessary but distrust is dangerous. Encourage the former and then come to an acknowledgement of a path or process and don’t detour until the way is impossible or unfruitful. If you hit a wall that is unmovable, leadership should accept responsibility and redirect the team to a new starting point. If distrust wells up, face it and name it as quickly and honestly as possible. Make amends, atone, or abandon but don’t press onwards with doubt and skepticism in the air.

Make Today Remarkable, by challenging yourself and your team,

B

Original Thought · Self Improvement

A Simple Answer?

The simple answer to every question is ” there is no simple answer”. Well that may be too simplistic, there probably are simple answers but they may not be complete, appropriate or valid. If the question is closed-ended and ‘yes or no’ is sufficient, it still isn’t really an answer. Closed responses are only closed because of the framing of the question. If I am asked ” Are you going to type a post today?” The answer to the specific request may be “yes” but the answer I should give might be ” Yes, if I get this project complete and go for a run before 7am”. Even then the answer is shorthand for a much longer and more comprehensive response. ” I am feeling a bit of stress with some projects and procrastination, I need to clear my head and heart before I tackle anything else. I am not sure I have anything left to say or if anyone is really listening”

Do we lose content and context when we accept simple answers? Would our lives be richer if we shared deeper emotions and honesty? The most common question we ask and hear is one that we very seldom answer truthfully. ” How are you?” gets a variety of “good”,”fine”, “I’m well”, ” busy”, “tired” …but is the question or response just a courtesy mantra? Are you sincere in understanding the state of wellbeing, health, finances, relationships of the person in front of you? Should we swear off the question “how are you?” if we really aren’t interested. And if I am interested, can I ask a deeper, better, more complex, open-ended question?

What if I said ” what is the best thing that has happened to you in the last 24 hours?” or ” how is your health?” or ” why did you decide to come to this event?” or ” how did you celebrate the weekend?”. The answers would be more interesting and reflective and after the strange look it would foster a higher level engagement. Are we ready to engage with some colleagues, family members, strangers or do we want to just pass though the space and go through the actions? Even the last question could have a ‘yes or no’ response but if we opt for deeper connections then we need to build in patience and time so that meaning and meaningfulness can rise up in stages.
The first time you hear an unexpected deep question, it might rattle you for a second. You probably won’t jump to transparency initially because the unusual provokes suspicion but trust is waiting in the query and if you can choose trust, a better, truer response will eventually come out.

Are you constructing your own barriers to meaningful conversations? Do you frame your bids with honest curiousity or are they tempered with cynicism, suspicion and reserved detachment? What are you hiding from? Are you fearful that some disclosure will be abused? Is it shame? distain? anxiety?
Are aware of the tendencies towards open or closed? Has this just become ‘your way of doing things’? Are you interested in change and willing to be involved in the lives of a chosen few ?

I confess that this lesson has been difficult to learn well. I have stumbled and fallen. I have disregarded my personal commitment to engagement when I felt anxious. I have resisted overtures and bids with flippant sarcasm and been dismissive of friends who frightened me with their openness. But I continue to try. I make progress and step back but the movement over the past year has generally been forward, towards stronger friendships, deeper relationships and interest in the feelings and interests of others (even when I don’t understand). Like most things, there isn’t a simple answer, or a single step but I am committed to making the most of the gifts of relationship that I have. It probably means that contrary to the social media frenzy of accumulation, I need to be discerning and dedicated to a few rather than the very many.

Make Today Remarkable, by asking difficult questions,

B

Original Thought

The Best and the Not so Best

hope

The Olympics offers us a glimpse into life, patriotism, courage, corruption and perseverance and commitment. There are tragedies, travesties, fairy tales in real time and a whirlwind of metaphors and parables being woven in the ether. I don’t know if I need the official approval of the IOC to even type the O word or some official credential to tell a story or offer my perspective from afar but I will chance it this morning and offer some observations. The words here are generalized and if it sounds like I am stating a fact, well I am likely not.

Let’s begin with the heroism. I admit that I seem to have a need for heroes, especially if they have fallen from grace and had some type of redemption. Prior to the Rio games I wasn’t a fan of Michael Phelps. There wasn’t any animosity or distaste, just ambivalence. His records and performance were impressive but I didn’t cheer for him. This year, his back story and rehabilitation meant something more. A Joseph Campbell hero saga story was crafted by circumstances, agents and media and I found myself rooting for his return to the top of the podium. The conquering hero didn’t disappoint. With all the drama of a James Cameron movie (one in the making?) Michael took on the challengers, heir apparents, and wanna bes. If there is a lesson rather than hype, it might be that we are created to overcome odds and like Von Goethe says we need to be committed.

For Canadians, the new hero, with her own guest in the background, is Penny Oleskiak. Rather than a vanquishing dragon slayer, she is the protagonist with humility. Her medals and individual results don’t overshadow the team she is a part of. As a reluctant hero, she is charming and humble. I suspect that there was some story crafting before the games and some editing and adapting since they started but in her story we see hard work, determination, genetics, and hope. We can all use more of three of those.

There are so many athlete successes from the Refugee Team to the Fijian 7s that speak to what I understand the O to symbolize but tantrums, favoritism, missed opportunity and cowardice have raised their heads too. For me the corrupt action of decision makers in disregarding drug testing reports in order to save face and appease a nation embroiled in the scandal is the antithesis of these symbols.
I struggle to understand how men and women could condone illegal action by athletes and state and still hold the rings high. There has been many suggestions that we should hold Juicer Games where anyone can compete regardless of steroid or HGH or genetic manipulation. Somewhat tongue in cheek, they say they would love to see how fast, high, strong we could be before exploding.

Away from the games Bill Murray offered a better comparison. He would like there to be an average Jane or Joe in every race just so we can actually understand how remarkable these performance are. It would give us pause to realize that 64th in the world is still 10’s of times faster, higher, stronger than most humans on the planet could achieve.

As we move into the track and field, where there is sure to be controversy, I am choosing to stay focused on the best of the games – the athletes, coaches and teams who represent excellence, honesty, fair play and generosity.

Make Today Remarkable, by being inspired,
B