If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. ~ African proverb
I consider myself a fairly independent person. Taught to carry my own weight, do my part and not quit, I champion getting things done. I like my time alone. Yet, it is when I am part of a team walking in the same direction that I truly enjoy success. Personal experience bears this out:
- My family unit within a small town community taught me the value of teamwork. The unspoken but well understood social structures, protocols, conflicts and competition served us well. We didn’t call it a team, but it was: folks walking in the same direction. We had to, in order to thrive, even if we didn’t always like each other.
- My career in air traffic was thirty years of embracing teamwork, walking daily in the same direction toward the safe, orderly and efficient flow of air traffic. Again, it was critical to the success of the mission, in spite of the occasional shouting match across the aisle or in the parking lot!
- Our marriage of 41 years is definitely a long walk in the same direction. Not always in lock-step but still headed the same way. There are times it simply long! Most of the time it is wonderful. As the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey told Matthew, “Marriage is a long business”.
The Same Direction With Company
There are a number of misconceptions I have had to acknowledge and overcome as a part of a team. I like to get things done efficiently and quickly. When forming a new team, there is always the coming together period. This upfront activity does take time, and I have learned it is valuable in order to:
- clarify the vision, the destination
- get to know one another and how each person thinks and works
- assess what each person brings to the table
- set parameters and boundaries
For me, a lot of personal satisfaction comes from a task or project completed. I really hate “wasting time” or other resources. I have not always valued the above activity. This was because my version of wasting time was any time spent not getting something tangible done.
The Same Direction Alone
This comes from my preferred “wade in and figure it out as you go” methodology. It is not a bad one when you are working alone. It also works well is situations in which all parties are already aware of the plan, destination and process.
- For instance, in air traffic, once one is trained and certified, when taking over a position, there is a defined process that all parties are aware of, so you plug in and “wade into” the flow.
- The same is true of co-piloting a plane. Many times, commercial pilots show up on the flight deck never having met before, introduce themselves and get ready to depart. Teamwork, with a lot of predefined boundaries.
- In the case of a crisis the “wade in” methodology is a good one – action is needed!
However, for the long walk in the same direction, the upfront time will make the journey more fruitful. Especially when it is a new endeavor.
A New Same Direction Project
I am a part of one of those new endeavors. An EAA biplane my father started in the late 60s is now in the hands of a new team of which I am a part. It began as a solo project of my father. Later, we had planned to work on it together as father and daughter. When Daddy passed, the project all but died with him.
In the past weeks, my Local EAA Chapter members have begun the first hands-on time of this endeavor. One team is tending to the wood components, the other the metal. Comparing what is against plans, taking inventory and defining steps forward.
Grace has provided a fresh same direction. Grace for the long walk is at hand, and with this team, it will go far.
Do you have a long walk project underway? What part is teamwork playing in it? Please share your thoughts and comments.
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