We are hard-wired for community. Despite wherever we find ourselves upon the extraverted-introverted continuum, there is a basic and powerful element fused within our emotional DNA that seeks meaningful connections.
The most anti-social person among our peer group still hungers to have rapport with another. An unspoken symbiosis transcends all cultural, economic, political and religious barriers. Ultimately, in this world given to the discretion of human beings, we all play on the same team–as disparate and conflicting our objectives and methods can be.
It is common for an individual to arrive at a perspective where an instinct for independence dominates the relational landscape. He or she may feel they have plenty to offer on their own in terms of experiences, education and expertise. And indeed, one person can accomplish plenty, unhindered by the varying reliability of others, freed from the encumbrances of collective bureaucracy and cynicism.
That same person, however, discovers an exciting new world when he or she chooses to bring their talents to a table that seats several others. The table becomes spread with a mix of experiences, education and expertise that causes a multiplier impact and an explosion of perception. A world of opportunity that seemed so large to the individual suddenly shrinks with the awareness of how much higher the bar could be raised. Goals that had appeared so lofty look tiny when seen in flux with the ambitions of others. The growing edges of one are offset by the strengths of another, a stunning relief since no one person can do it all.
The bottom line: Each person who before only saw potential through the prism of what they alone had to offer, embarks with joy upon the unbounded adventure that lies before those who embrace a life of teamwork. However, even while our instincts sense the need and health of connectedness, a darker side of our nature hurries against it.
There is the trust factor. Are people who they say they are? Is someone simply motivated to lead us on, use us, defraud us, betray us?
Competition, although a healthy motivator to an extent, is a barrier to teamwork. Does this person possess more talent, more charisma and charm, more opportunities to succeed and move ahead than I do? Jealousy feeds into this–Am I craving what someone else has and knows?
Clashing styles represent another impediment to coming to the table. The wondrous thing about human beings is a two-sided coin–we are pleasantly diverse in personality, style and design…and sometimes it’s hard to handle those differences. An organized person is perturbed by a free spirit. Someone who easily lets you into his inner world is put off by one who is more aloof.
At the heart of these darker flavors, however, can be found the pervasive poison of insecurity–a sense of feeling threatened about connecting with others because of what it might reveal about us. Indeed, what it might expose to others–but especially what it might expose to ourselves.
The overriding cure to a reluctance to reach out and share our passions, goals, ambitions and activities with others, then, is a healing of the self-image. This, practical knowledge teaches us, is not easily done–but is in fact a rewarding journey actually facilitated by surrendering our lingering doubts about meaningful relationships. This release is accompanied by progressive communication, and by allowing time to prove the value of synergy.
The end result of embracing this healing journey is greater productivity in all aspects of a person’s world–personal relationships, professional interactions, work-related output, volunteer-related service. Tied into this is a growing sense of peace, a pervading inner joy, a heartfelt relaxation that enables us to view others not as opponents but as precious souls to be nurtured, understood and encouraged.
Those in business come to realize there are plenty of clients to go around for all. Those in the non-profit world realize there is enough money for everyone. Those who lead religious or political organizations realize there are plenty of potential converts in our midst.
No one who fully enters the life of teamwork need be threatened by the presence of another–indeed, such presence only serves to enrich, inspire and educate. Try as we might to push against the tide, we all have a place at the table. Until we give ourselves permission to take our chair, something will always feel off kilter, out of balance, less than what it could be. Our potential remains stunted and latent.
The team draws out the potential. The team thinks big. The team brings forth a quality of life elusive to the loner.