“Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it’s bobsled time.” – Cool Runnings (1993).
The power of team cannot be overemphasized in a culture where autonomy is celebrated and community is criticized. Eighteen hundred years ago, Aristotle said “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and the Bible alludes to this mystery with “How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight…” and “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Gandhi recognized the power of team saying, “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” So what is with this teamwork thing?
Team Work | Some Diminish & Others Multiply
Just like parents, leaders, managers, teachers, and preachers, some diminish and others multiply. We will consider only when a team is functioning as a multiplier and view teamwork through the lenses of synergy. Google defines synergy as “The interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.” Not very different from what Aristotle said in 300 B.C. Although culture occasionally reminds us of the power of teamwork, it is more so the exception. Where Simon and Garfunkel gave us, “I Am A rock I am an island” Tenth Avenue North reminds us “No man is an island.” Where professional musicians and television largely teach me, my, and mine, professional sports teams remind us winning and teamwork are never mutually exclusive AKA 2015 New York Knicks. When the business community glorifies the king-type entrepreneur, President Obama weighs in on the theory of a self-made man reminding us that none exists. Beside a few voices in the wilderness, classroom projects, and team sports who is championing “Team?” YOU must champion team.
You need a team, not employees!
You need a team. No matter if you take every class at your alma mater or pull a Kobe Bryant and go straight out of high school to your chosen field you will need supportive friends and family. You may need cofounders or investors. You need mentors, colleagues, a professional network, peers, and support in general. Every successful person has unpaid team members. I use the term team members loosely as anyone that imparts something of value. You will not have team members if you first are not friendly. Sure people can be successful with very little teamwork. Entrepreneurs do not get this luxury.
Why does it matter?
Isn’t the end game, not to have a job working for someone else or even a job working for ourselves? You know, to own a business or have investments that work for us. In the CASHFLOW Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, he reminded us to live on the right side of the quadrant. Build a system so that people can work for you and/or make investments where your money works for you.
How do I become a better team player?
Start by practicing friendliness and giving of your time to others dreams and projects. Be mindful when your actions diminish others and multiply self. Read Winning Friends and Influencing People by Dale Carnegie, read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Be a lifelong learner about communication, body language, and interpersonal skills. See where this is going? Learn how to energize those around you, become a multiplier, reduce your diminishing actions, practice at it, be vulnerable to the team, set goals larger than you set for yourself, and never stop growing. Before you know it, a spark of teammate will grow inside of you and smart people will gravitate toward you, doors will swing open in front of you, projects will appear tailored for you, and at those moments, you will have the skills to find the team to make the dream work. Even Michael Jordan needed a team to win six NBA championships. Teamwork is the multiplier.
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