Imagine the following scenario.
You are playing your favourite team sport (hockey, basketball, volleyball, take your pick). You have had an exceptional season, and reached the finals. The championship is on the line. While preparing for the game, one of the best players suddenly, out of nowhere, says, “Everyone, thank you for coming. I can take it from here, by myself.”
People around the locker-room look at each other, wave off the remark as inconsequential and continue preparing for the game. A few players laugh lightly. Still, the player insists. “Everyone go home! I am the team! I can win this game, by myself. You are not required.” The players in the locker room think this is nonsensical and continue preparing for the game.
Yet, the player continues to belabour the point. “I can do this! You have gotten this far but now it’s my time to shine. I will win playing against the other team. I am the fastest, the most agile, the most versatile, the most ______(fill in the blank). I am the most valuable player!”
Have you noticed there is a lot of ‘I’ here? How do you think this story ends?
Other than being completely absurd, it ends with the player getting nowhere because you cannot win a team sport playing as an individual. Let’s say that again. You cannot win a team sport playing as an individual.
However, many people go into business to be self-employed, to be their ‘own’ boss, and expect to win the game as an individual. What’s up with this picture? How can this be?
How can something as integral to the growth of a community, as a business – a conversation that arises inside of a community and is built to provide what is needed and wanted – possibly be accomplished by an individual alone?
The short answer is that it can’t. While individuals can make a difference, it takes a team, a group, a tribe or an organization to complete the task. But, people still try to play by their lonesome. And there is nobody to point out the absurdity of playing the game that way. It is as if, in sports it is obvious, but in business it is not only imperceptible, there is a kind of heroism and need for glory that goes with it.
You will often hear people say “You are starting a business? Wow, that sounds really risky. Are you sure you want to do that?” To which the ‘tough’ individual entrepreneur responds with “Yes, I do. I know what I’m doing.” The modus operandi that is going on in the background is, “Project my strengths and hide my weaknesses at all cost.”
This is because any individual that is ‘tough’ would be heavily invested in hiding their weaknesses so they are not “found out.” This is a survival mechanism (a pretence) and it takes a considerable amount of energy to operate this way because one must cover up any and all signs of weakness.
While having weaknesses is not a problem in and of itself (one of the aspects of being human, means having weaknesses), we do not have a process in our society to openly share our weaknesses without feeling that we are being diminished in some way – or the feeling that we will be taken advantage of at some point in the future.
In this environment, it is no surprise that this brings up a whole can of worms regarding trusting others and feeling safe, therefore another essential element of being able to share one’s weakness is creating a safe space where the truth can be told. This is easier said than done, but with the proper structures and support can be created over time.
The other aspect is the fact that because people are operating as individuals, there is a lot of attempting to ‘fix’ people in teams that are ‘broken’ because they do not show the same or similar qualities as the stronger individuals. Unfortunately, there is no cheese down this tunnel, yet many people attempt to fix others by projecting their own weaknesses onto others. The solution to this problem is not in fixing people, but in adding more people to the team so that overall the system can account for the weaknesses and naturally the strengths can shine through. This is called collective, synergistic integrity.
Now, if you are eager to build teams around you and you are recognizing that working as an individual is not going to cut it any longer, what can you do?
We are going to suggest an exercise. This exercise does not have an ending. It is a continuous process as your business develops.
Before you move on, keep in mind two main things. First, if you do not have money to hire people, start with an internship program and make sure that you can provide real value to your interns. Second, we recommend working with a qualified professional coach that can help you moderate this process as each team building exercise has its own specific requirements. The goal of this process is to build a safe space where the truth can be told and share their weaknesses as an opportunity to produce non-linear results.
The basic outline is as follows:
The faster you learn how to build teams, the easier and simpler things will become for you. So, what are you waiting for?
Your ideal team awaits you!