5 years ago we moved into our home. It was neat, but it needed a little attention. We got the bathrooms renovated before we even moved in. We needed showers installed. We found a contractor and got him in to do the work.
But it dragged on, and on. The contractor and his team did a shoddy job.
I took it upon myself to fix this shower. I spent hours trying to make it better. I made makeshift solutions that kind of worked, but never really fixed the problem. Eventually, we just got used to living with a leaky shower. That’s what happens when you’re reasonable. You become numb to the situation you’re in.
Two weeks ago, we met a new contractor, named Cade. He started fixing all the problems in our two bathrooms. Him and his crew were brilliant. This morning was the first time that I took a shower and nothing leaked. The floor was clean. And the best part about it was that it looks great.
My solution only sort of worked and it looked really sad. Cade’s solution was professional.
This morning, I realised my biggest mistake.
And it’s a mistake that most people make without even realising it.
A mistake that we make in school and out of it.
And there’s a massive cost to this mistake because it hinders us from effective teamwork. In fact, it’s the number one reason why people can’t work in teams. No matter how much they secretly wish they could.
Without a team, you too will spend years frustrated by a temporary solution. Teamwork ensures that the best solution is ready for whatever challenge you’re facing. Regardless of who provides it. Teamwork is about merit. Whoever has the best solution for that moment, leads the team at that moment.
The lesson that I learnt this morning was simple.
If you’re not ready to admit that you’re not the best person for the job at hand, if you’re not willing to admit that you need help, you’ll never be able to work on a team.
Is that what you learned in school academics? Or, like most people, were you in such a constant state of competition that everyone around you was a source of fear?
School academics didn’t teach us about teamwork because it was a “Us or Them” scenario. Most schools still opt for a rating system that acknowledges the kids with the best grades. They’re honoured for that. But inside this honouring is an idea of scarcity. There’s only one place at the top. There’s only one number one. And if it’s not you, then you’d better do whatever you can to take that person’s place.
There was never an acknowledge for the child who went out of their way to teach someone else how to do something, was there?
School sports are different. You’re encouraged to work as a team in order to achieve a common goal. The best part is that you learn to play positions. You learn that there are some things that you’re great at. You also learn there are some things that you suck at. You learn to outsource your weaknesses to someone else. Someone who does the job better than you.
Basically, when you learn to play on a team, you learn to admit that you can’t be in two places at once, and concede that someone else can do something better than you can.
The moment that you learn to let go, that’s the moment that you’re ready to work on a team. Unity is an expression of strength. But it can only happen when you let others lead at the right time. When they’re the right people to lead, in their field of expertise.
When you let go and allow, it creates a safe space for others to succeed. It creates a space for you’re the people in your team to shine. This can’t happen until you’re ready, to be honest…and then let go of the control.
Now that you know the fundamental step to working on a team, you know that you have a choice. If you’re not able to work on a team, you need to ask yourself this question:
“Am I ready to admit that I’m not the best person for this job?”
As John Doerr quoted Steve Jobs in his book Measure What Matters:
“We don’t hire smart people to tell them what to do. We hire smart people so that they can tell us what to do.”
That’s the essence of teamwork. And that’s how collectively on a team, we can do so much more than we ever could do alone.
Until next time,