April 30, 2018

Community: Make It Personal

by Eric Cone

“I don’t want to belong to a strong, healthy, and fulfilled team…”

 

…said no one ever! There is not a single person I have met who would say they are not in favor of being on a high-performing team. Such teams are inspirational because they accomplish great feats. They achieve success for sustained periods of time; they sacrifice for one another; they experience a sense of family. The message is spoken by sports teams across the globe— “1-2-3-Family!” They seem to have something beyond the prolific talent, highly developed skills, or generous compensation. What they have is strong community that feels and operates like a healthy family. They care about the individuals, encourage big dreams and large goals, and they support one another through failure. They are in it for the family, not just an outcome.

Unfortunately, you can’t snap your fingers and have a strong sense of community within your team. Strong community does not just happen. Strong community is initiated through conviction and personal responsibility.

 

The strength of teams and organizations is the sum of all of their parts. Therefore, every individual within a growing team has a profound role to play.

 

If we, as individuals, will not make the necessary sacrifices to forge strong community, then we cannot expect to ever obtain the strength, health, and fulfillment we desire within our teams. In taking personal responsibility and courageously taking action, we will attract others who desire the same.

If we are serious about creating a strong, healthy, and fulfilling team, then we have to make it personal. We have to recognize community must begin with someone; its creation depends on every member making it personal.

Here are four disciplines to consider as you embark on or continue the journey of building strong community.

 

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Practice Self-Discipline

In order to authentically engage in community, you have to know yourself well. Self-awareness is required for self-control. Often times, our best intentions do not produce our desired outcomes because we do not understand the impact our behaviors have on those around us. Seek to understand your thoughts and your responsibility to respond in a disciplined manner. Sometimes, our natural response is not the best response. Know yourself and control yourself for the benefit of your community.

 

Exercise Patience

Developing a strong community takes time. We all know maintaining healthy relationships can take a great deal of work. Our past experiences, past decisions, past leaders, and past teams cause us to build walls that make community-creating more difficult. Be willing to ask questions and wait. Wait for team members to see that you genuinely care and that their negative experiences with past leaders and team members will not be replayed – not with you. Don’t put a timeline on it. You cannot expedite meaningful relationships.

 

Work Hard Together

Strength is forged through hardship. The strongest teams grow together through the rigorous demands of walking through difficulty. A Harvard University professor once said, “The most profound learning experiences seldom feel good while they are happening.” This applies to both teams and individuals. Embrace difficulty. Don’t create it, but don’t run from it. Hardship forges strength.

 

Model Vulnerability

Share deep thoughts and ask deep questions. Superficiality can actually hinder deep community. While golf outings and baseball games are beneficial to initiate and maintain community, going to deep and personal places with one another will galvanize relationships. If you expect others to go to these vulnerable depths, you must be willing to be the first to dive deep.

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