Glue? Oil? Or both?

“Trust is the glue that holds people together and is the lubricant that keeps an organization moving forward.” 

Colin Powell

Glue binds parts together to align and function not as individual components but as a complete operating system.  

Motor oil reduces friction, overheating, and damage to the engine.  

I don’t imagine that there are too many effective teams that can function without these components. The question is, do you need more oil, glue, or both?

Are you surrounded with Yes or No people?

“Surround yourself with people that push you to do better.  No drama or negativity.  Just higher goals and higher motivation.  Good times and positive energy.  No jealousy or hate.  Simply bringing out the absolute best in each other.”

Warren Buffett

There is something special about being around people who push you to be better for the right reasons. These are the people who energize you and motivate you to go and do and be more than you even thought was possible. People like this make life fun, enjoyable, meaningful, purposeful, impactful, and the list goes on and on.

This is in marked contrast to those who might push you, but they do so for selfish reasons. They push you because doing so is all about them. It is what you can do for them that is all they care about. These people make life challenging, empty, miserable, draining and demotivating.

Here is an interesting exercise. Look at each of these sentences and simply rate the people you have surrounded yourself with with a “Yes or No” for that specific aspect.

“Surround yourself with people that push you to do better.

Y/N

No drama or negativity.

Y/N

Just higher goals and higher motivation.

Y/N

Good times and positive energy.

Y/N

No jealousy or hate.

Y/N

Simply bringing out the absolute best in each other.”

Y/N

How do the people that you have chosen to surround yourself with measure up to these words? Do your “Yes’s” outnumber the “No’s?”

You have a choice. Pick the people you want in your life. Prune the rest. Life is too short to surround yourself with people that don’t energize and inspire you to become the person you were meant to be.

Help make way…

“The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve always been impressed by people who have a clear purpose, a clear vision about where they are going and what they want to achieve in life. Those individuals are the ones that change their worlds, and the worlds of others around them.

I would argue that “making way” is only one of the options that you might have available when one of these people crosses your path.

Another option might be to understand their vision, and if aligned, help make it a reality. The world makes way for people who know where they are going….

Asked and answered…

“Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your teammates.”

Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr.

How much of your effort and energy is devoted to doing for your teammates versus doing for yourself? How often do you ask how you can help, and then deliver on the ask?

If you can’t remember the last time you did this, you aren’t doing it enough…

Team player?

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

Babe Ruth

Would you rather be the best player, or on the best team? Is it about the collective results, or individual stats? Is it all about you, or what the team needs to accomplish? Do you play for the team, or do you play for yourself?

I’ve worked with and been a part of great teams where everyone was tightly focused on achieving the end goal. Teams where everyone played their individual parts to perfection. No matter how hard the work was it was fun and energizing. The team was stronger as a whole than any of the individual players. It it such a blessing to be part of a team that functions in this way.

I’ve also been on teams with individuals that were incredibly talented and smart, arguably far more so than the rest of the team members, but instead of playing for the team, they played for themselves. Those teams weren’t nearly as much fun, or as successful, as those where everyone was focused on playing together and achieving the end goal. There was no chemistry and while the results might have been acceptable on some levels, in many ways those teams underachieved.

I’ll take a team of people that play for each other, and for the team itself, over a team of individual rock stars focused on themselves every day of the week….

Success is never one person…

“One person seeking glory doesn’t accomplish much. Success is the result of people pulling together to meet common goals.”

John Maxwell

I can’t think of anything in life that I have accomplished truly on my own accord without any help or assistance from others. Whether it is through direct collaboration, or by having a network of individuals that have assisted or championed me through life’s journey, every accomplishment has been made possible with the love and energy of others.

Without a supporting cast of people who pitch in and help along the way there are no goals, common or otherwise that can be achieved. We are all here to help serve others and success is being able to unite and work together on work worth doing.

‘Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.’ Philippians 2:4

Success is…

“Success is empty if you arrive at the finish line alone. The best reward is to get there surrounded by winners.”

Howard Schultz

No one ever arrived at a finish line alone. There is always a team there doing something to ensure success, whether it is behind the scenes or front and center.

Who is on your team? Have you recognized and thanked them? Have you pushed them to front and center?

This is the real reward, being able to say “thank you” and “job well done” to those that made it happen. Success is being able to say “thank you.”

To go the distance, don’t go it alone…

“If you want to walk fast, go alone.  If you want to walk far, go together.”

Anonymous

There are days where walking alone might be preferable. Those are the days when a single focus on accomplishing one specific task or thing might be exactly what needs to happen, at that specific moment, in order for the task to be born out with speed and agility.

However, that is not every day. We are all better as humans when we work with and learn to rely on each other. As I meditate on this I am reminded of this verse from Ecclesiastes:

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Find the right team, the right people who share your purpose, your vision, your beliefs; join together with them and you can go so much further than any one person can alone…


Individuals aligned & focused are the necessary ingredient for success…

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

Vince Lombardi

Working together with a team towards a common and shared purpose is so powerful. When there is a common purpose, a shared goal that has 100% commitment, then there is no room for hidden agendas, no place for politics, no backstabbing or power struggles.

When the goals of the individual are more important than those of the group that is when the bad stuff happens and dissension builds in the team. How do you ensure this doesn’t happen?

First, make sure you aren’t part of the problem. Are you spending any effort that detracts from the common mission and purpose? Are you more interested in being right, than in doing what is right?

Second, is there a common purpose? A clearly defined objective that everyone understands and believes in?

Third, Does everyone know what is expected of them? Are roles clearly defined with the key success metrics and targets aligned to the achievement of the goal?

Fourth, Is the team reviewing successes and CANDIDLY talking about failures or setbacks in a non-personal and non-threatening manner with the focus on the mission, not the person.

As Vince said, “Individual commitment to a group effort – That is what makes a team work…”

photo of golden cogwheel on black background
Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

The power of the pack…

“For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack. ”
 
Rudyard Kipling

The fastest way to bad, or at the very least sub-optimum, decisions is to rely only on your own knowledge and perspective.  The very best leader that I know ask a ton of questions, even if they might already have an opinion, or know the answer outright.  Their assumption is that they don’t know everything and their answer will be strengthened by gaining perspective from others.  Then those leaders act…

The power of the wolf comes from the pack and the reason for the power is the relentless focus on a single thing, survival.  It isn’t a committee of wolves talking about what might be important to accomplish one day.  It is a pack focus on the hunt, on survival.  Nothing else distracts from this focus. 

In our lives we might belong to a pack (or several) but how many of those packs have a burning focus that channels all the energy and effort towards accomplishing one thing?  If that doesn’t happen, you aren’t a wolf in a pack, you are a sheep in a herd…

 

 

Focus & Clarity

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
 
Henry Ford
 

There is a great deal of satisfaction that comes when you are part of a team.  The energy that comes from working with others towards a shared vision is palpable.  Success becomes the result, not just a goal or a thing to be achieved.  

Without teamwork I would argue that while a specific task or objective might be achieved, the true opportunity is left unfulfilled.  Teamwork unlocks the magic of what could be. 

Why then do teams get off track?  Lack of a crystal clear vision or goal and clearly aligned team and individual objectives that bring focus and clarity to the work at hand.  Without this there is always going to be some sand in the gears so to speak.

If you haven’t read “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr I highly recommend it.  One of the best books I have read on creating focus and clarity as a team.  Truly exceptional.

 

What are you afraid of?

“Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.”

Patrick Lencioni

Merriam-Webster defines “invulnerable” as “impossible to harm, damage or defeat.”  We are taught at a young age that we have to be tough, that we have to win, that showing any vulnerability is a sign of weakness and frailty.  So we carry that defensive nature into our lives and relationships, both at work and at home.  Instead of accepting that we are all vulnerable we seek to be invulnerable with those around us.  

Perhaps this is changing?  The usage of the word “vulnerable” has certainly become more prevalent over the past few decades. Not bad for a word that has it’s root origination in the Latin noun “vulnus” meaning “wound.”  (Finally all my college Latin courses are paying off!!)

 

vulnerable

Usage of “vulnerable”

 

But lets contrast “invulnerability” with “trust” which is defined as “allow someone to have, use, or look after (someone or something of importance or value) with confidence.” 

How do you know when you trust someone?  What does it feel like? For me it is the feeling of safety.  That it is okay if I’m not perfect and it is safe to expose my vulnerabilities for the purpose of achieving a greater good.  When I trust my teammates I am confident that they care, first and foremost, about achieving our shared goals and purpose.

Hmm, now that I think about it maybe “invulnerability” isn’t such a bad thing.  If a team has a high degree of trust with each other I think they just might be a team that is “impossible to harm, damage or defeat…”  

 

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