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Posted by on Mar 9, 2011

Glue

The team over here at 8230 Leesburg Pike has been through a lot lately, let me tell you.

From a variety of sources, we have been buffeted by new demands, expectations, rapidly changing circumstances and other factors that all created what can safely be described as enormous stress.

It started in the autumn, so it’s not like it’s been just a short-term thing.

What helps you get through stress?

One thing I learned, or maybe relearned, or maybe learned more experientially is that a tight team really counts.

By tight team, I mean a group of people who genuinely care about each other, who are willing to put in extra effort to help others, and who actually appreciate and enjoy the opportunity to do so. There’s a certain pleasure and satisfaction in knowing that you are directly helping someone you care about. There’s an iron commitment in knowing you will go the wall for others.

There is something magical in this. It’s beyond the pure, very limited, self-interest Adam Smith wrote about. (Free-marketers, settle down out there. Nothing wrong with self-interest. It’s just that it’s only one part of a much larger picture.) It’s transcendent. It’s not really described in any competency model, strategic plan or other official artifact, because it’s not an official, organizational process. It’s an organic, grass-roots, person-centered state of being, grounded in relationships. The most an organization can officially do is to create the space, the grounds, for it to happen. Some military environments and sports organizations seem to be the best at fostering it. (Hmmm. I wonder if that’s because their performance is measured so carefully, because it’s so important?) But the people have to be the ones to make it happen.

Mot people have been fortunate enough to be on a tight team at some point in their lives. It could have been in a sport, a committee at church, a neighborhood or anywhere else. There is no real predicting it – it certainly can’t be guaranteed. But sometimes, it just happens. If it’s happened for you, you understand its power, and the difference it makes. If you shoveled snow off an elderly neighbor’s drive-way, and your other neighbors came out to help . . that feeling that you had, together? That’s what I’m talking about.

When I think about how the team I’m on might have fared through the stress we experienced if we had not been a tight team, I just shake my head. I don’t think it could have happened.

It’s the glue that keeps people connected. It’s a beautiful thing.

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