“There is no I in team.”
Or is there?
On one hand, I think I get it. To be an effective team member requires one to set aside personal agendas for the sake of group good. Outcomes are, hopefully, a collaboration or collection of great minds thinking together.
The best teams – whether family, work, church, or sports – have conflict. Differences of opinion, personality, approach, and ideas bring fresh perspectives for problem solving or simply seeing other options. Creativity is often born out of well-managed friction.
In other words, teams work best when we each bring our unique “I” to the table.
But in and of itself, that isn’t enough. There must be a respect for other - for different - if we are going to succeed. I must value you and your unique approach and you, me.
This reminds me of the vivid metaphor in 1 Corinthians 12:17-20. “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
We don’t need a room full of eyes or ears or feet!
Recently I had opportunity to lead five others through the task of revising teaching curriculum. I threw out the general question, “How did this work last year?”, then sat back and watched the magic.
One person offered a suggestion which another built on. Someone else added a caution, helping clarify our objective and keep us on track. Three hours later we had a product far superior to anything I could have created or imagined on my own.
Different people with complementary roles, performing in sync with each other, is a beautiful thing.
And not all teams get this. I have worked with individuals who see team as an obstacle in accomplishing their personal goals. Or a spin cycle of hashing and rehashing; a time-sucking vortex that prevents progress and steals joy. Fortunately, we can learn lots from stories of how people show up and act out in groups. (If you’re interested in reading hilarious accounts, check out the Team section in Changing Course: Stories to Navigate Career and Life Transitions.)
So as I consider my teams, I want to be a part that brings life, and, by God’s grace, celebrate the unique contributions of others.
And, I can’t help thinking, “What body part am I?”
With love and gratitude,
In The Midst