Being on a team can be hard. Being on a proper team is really hard, which is why most people have never had that experience. The real reason why it’s hard is seldom discussed and definitely isn’t solved by doing ridiculous team building activities. Otherwise all you’d have to do is fall backwards into each others’ arms, build a raft together or walk over hot coals and the next thing you know, you’ll be accepting awards for the best team ever and telling your mum about it. Of course, there are some basics that need to be in place for any team to merit a place in the “team” aisle and these are all pretty well documented. In the words of Bowie, I’ll reiterate for ya’:
- Measures of success
- Agreed beliefs, attitudes and behaviours
- Mutual accountability for shared goals
- Rhythms and rituals that make a difference
These things are essential features of effective team performance, though they are never enough if you want to be on a proper team. On a proper team, the team comes first. Team primacy is the reason most people have never been on a proper one. Team primacy means that your needs and wants come second to those of the team. Let that thought settle for a moment. Your needs are secondary and it’s not good enough simply to understand that; you have to embrace it and celebrate it. On a proper team, you do what the team needs, you don’t prioritise the things you need. You do the things you need to do for the team to win, not just the things you like to do. It requires a degree of working with emotional intelligence; On a proper team, you surrender you to the team. That’s why it’s hard and that’s why it hardly ever happens. Team player qualities aren’t enough. Maybe you’re on a team that’s on a vital mission. Maybe you’ve got all the basic team player skills in place. Maybe this next step, the step of surrender, will remove the interference to your team’s performance because you are putting you above the team. If you haven’t got the basics in place, save yourself a load of time, stop reading this now, do not pass “Go”, reverse 3 paragraphs and build them.
- What if you weren’t worried about your position on the team and just played where and when the team needed you to play? What if you truly, madly deeply, accepted your role (even if you’d like a slightly different one) and played the one you’ve got without resentment or reservation and gave it your all?
- What if you stopped thinking about your career (whatever the fuck that means – for most of us it’s just a series of random events that we join up backwards and label it a career) and just focused on your performance, believing that if you perform fabulously every day, the career thing will somehow take care of itself?
- What if you stopped expending energy on what’s going to happen after your team has achieved its common goals, trusting that that this too will take care of itself. What if you didn’t get your head all busy with “what next?” and instead just focused on the game right in front of you.
- What if you plugged back into your passion for what you do and instead of being frightened by it, said “fuck it” and let it out, took the cap off and allowed it to fizz. Combined with your experience and skill, you might just be unstoppable. You can feel profound things and still feel safe. You can feel deeply and not crumble. They are not mutually exclusive.
- What if you realised that the only thing you’d be losing is your ego, not your voice? What if you accepted that the risk of protecting yourself when you don’t need to, is a lifetime of “coulda, woulda, shoulda”?
- What if you stopped worrying about whether all your team members are going to surrender themselves to the team? What if you were the raindrop that signalled the flood?
This is not about giving up on yourself. It’s about giving your “self “up in favour of the team. If you fear that surrender may make you vulnerable, so you keep all the positive passion and energy and your performance potential inside because it makes you feel safe, then I get that. You just have to accept that the team will never get the best out of you and if all your team members do the same, you’ll never see the best of them either. Your team mission, as a result, may be compromised. Performance, like life, is a game of choices. If you keep all those feelings inside, instead of letting them be free, their energy may harm you. Surrendering to the team may not just remove interference from your team’s performance, it may just be your most radical act of self care ever.
If you’re ready to find out, then why not get in touch.
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