Teamwork: All About YOU

By Chris Ihrig

While it is very true that any organization exists and thrives on the strength, determination, and creativity of individuals, teamwork can be a challenging concept to wrap your brain around. Especially, when you can think of at least one co-worker who would need an instruction book to sharpen a pencil. Sometimes people like this seem expendable.

Maybe someone considers you expendable? A sobering thought. (Especially since you can sharpen pencils like a pro.) If so, it is likely that you aren’t getting what you need for yourself in your work environment in order to feel fired up.

Well, let’s do this. For once let’s make the focus of teamwork, and the process of success itself, be about you and you alone.

It is not a slogan that drives the team. It is not the color of the office or the view of downtown. It is you, the individual.

Unfortunately, individuality is the first thing to go into the workplace, whether we realize it or not. What if you were to take the next week off from work. On the first day back, ride into the office on a skateboard. After arriving at your desk, dance to a song only you can hear for exactly four minutes, and then paint your computer purple. Needless to say, I would expect a stern reprimand from your boss and not a raise. Still, we’re being a little dramatic here. It is not often that a scenario like the one above would even pop into your head as something you would actually do. I wouldn’t do it either. I would have painted the computer yellow. But that’s beside the point.

The great psychoanalyst Otto Rank said at the turn of the last century (not the millennium century, but the one before that…you know, when everything was black and white) that “the new meaning of soul is creativity”, and that exploration of creativity would lead to a new type of person, one who would usher in a new civilization. What I am suggesting is a return to the center of sorts: an individual restructuring of the self.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s not fall into the trap of defining creativity in terms of artistry in a traditional sense. Creativity is not about painting or sculpting necessarily but rather about rethinking our day-to-day lives at work, and how creative meaning is part of being fired up about what we do and why we do it.

I suggest starting by asking yourself a series of questions and discovering how you can apply the answers to the moments you spend at work, as well as the moments you spend at home.

  • What is it about your life that gives you meaning?
  • When are the moments in which you feel most alive and most connected to being alive?
  • With what do you connect throughout your day (other than the clock ticking down until 5 PM) that makes you inspired?

Without a sense of connectedness to life, we are like the walking dead. That shouldn’t sound too intense, especially if you’ve been in the wrong job before. You know what it feels like to go day to day not connected to your work.

My suggestion, in order to connect more deeply with what makes you a vital part of any team, in fact, a vital participant in your own life, is to connect with your potential through rediscovering what means the most to you and then implementing that spark as fuel throughout your days. Make life part of your work. And don’t limit yourself to just one spark. Find a number of them. Actually, find a whole torch.

Most importantly, don’t let another minute go by without engaging in this process. Don’t let yourself burn inside with the unrealized desire to be an achiever. If you do that, the world will just see you smoldering.

Take chances with yourself and your creativity. Get fired up! Write more intensely and more expressively. Communicate more clearly. Know yourself more deeply. Talk to people. Talk to yourself. Laugh with people, or more importantly first, with yourself. Find truth in your work, or find new work.

If you want to be a vital part of any team, consider first your role on that team. Would you want to play with you? Let’s all challenge ourselves to redefine what has become normal to us and to push ourselves to be better team players through being better people.

If you have questions or suggestions, contact me anytime through Fired-Up Culture. I would be happy to hear from you.