Since starting my business I have gone to quite the number of networking events. What I have found is that most of the people attending these events are small business owners like myself that have at most one to two employees. This makes selling my team-oriented services a bit challenging. It got me thinking more about how we view teams. Realistically, a team is two or more people working towards a common goal. If you have a partner in life or at work, you are a team. If you have even just one coworker you are a team. If you work alone but have clients or customers you work with, guess what, you are a team. I currently work out of a co-working space that houses numerous entrepreneurs that are mostly in the early, or small stages of their business. We all work individually, but we still crave a community and this particular workspace tries to make it easier for entrepreneurs to collaborate. This collaboration may be happening to an extent, but in my experience, if collaboration is not intentionally being facilitated it may not happen at all. Before collaboration can happen though, our overall mindset needs to switch from thinking in terms of the individual to the team.
I recently did a talk that further explained my services and the misconceptions of team building. In the beginning, I showed a clip from a video done by Simon Sinek. He discussed his work with the Marines and how they developed what he labeled “a circle of trust”. This circle was developed only after new Marines were given a series of tasks to complete that were impossible to complete on their own. They had no choice but to work as a team. They had to trust each other in order to survive. Think of the team cohesion! Think of the way they would have to communicate with one another and trust that each person is doing the job they are supposed to do. Think of the commitment they have to their common goal and how they would have no time or patience for any pettiness or egos. Everyday life is not usually a matter of life and death scenarios, I mean it is because we never know what is going to happen, but for the most part, we don’t live this way. We live like there is always a tomorrow. So for most of us, we do not treat work or work experiences as life and death. There’s no heightened threat so we live blissfully autonomous. There’s nothing wrong with autonomy, but as the human race, we need to remember our survival depends on working together. We treat problems with a “you vs. me” mentality instead of a “you and me against the problem”. The question I propose is what if we treated our work or even personal relationships with a team mentality? What if we changed our mindset so we saw that collaboration was life or death of our businesses? What if every interaction you had no matter if it is a romantic partner, a coworker, a client, customer, or even acquaintance was your teammate? Would your interactions change?
Human relations needs some work today especially since the advent of technology. Autonomously sitting at a local restaurant, I notice the groups of people around me in some stage of waiting. Most of them are not speaking but looking down at their phones. Do you really have nothing to say to one another? If anything, it is a good time to practice some of those undervalued soft skills that are needed to be successful in, well life in general. Get curious again and start asking questions. This interaction is how we work on our relationships. Don’t just say you’re good or fine and things are going well. Tell me how things really are, get vulnerable. I don’t mean that each interaction is a therapy session. I just mean share your thoughts and opinions. If this is uncomfortable for you there is a reason for that. Tell them the reason you feel uncomfortable about sharing. This conversation itself could open the doors to so many other meaningful conversations and strengthen the team relationship.
I help people work on those soft skills in a work setting - in any work setting. You’re not an island and you really don’t want to be. You want to work independently, but you still want to work on a team, whatever that team looks like. Maybe you belong to a coworking community or you belong to a networking group. Maybe you are part of an online community or get together with friends to share a common interest. Families are also considered a team. Let’s change the mentality of personal success to team success. We’re in this thing called life together.
If you want to work on these skills but unsure of where to start or how to articulate what you need to work on, ask. It’s that simple. It starts with a conversation. It’s you and me against the problem because we are a team. I’ve got your back. We are on the same team.