Learn from the Nature: We are Built to Work Together
Let's start with an interesting but vivid analogy: Forest.
Did you know that trees intentionally strive for mutual health and well-being? If you've thought that trees, especially those that live for a very long time, randomly grow and die, think again.
Peter Wohlleben, a renowned German forest scientist and also a New York Times bestseller author with The Hidden Life of Trees, explains that trees connect with each other through their root systems. This connection is very intentional; through it, trees exchange nutrients and help neighbours in times of need.
Wohlleben said, "A tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent local climate ... But together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this prospected environment, trees can live to be very old. To get to this point, the community must remain intact no matter what."
Oftentimes, nature becomes a great teacher who enlightens us, especially on long-overlooked virtues. It is not only trees that have found the wisdom of being together. Study after study found that animals too naturally practice a high level of effective teamwork for their survival and prosperity.
Maybe it is only us, humans, who are too foolish and irrational to widely accept, understand, and put to practice this universal principle. Our necks can be too stiff from time to time that we want to monopolize all the glory of success alone. To make it worse, the culture we are living in often advocates flying solo rather than working with others.
We all probably are guilty of this, in some ways. We want to go alone because we don't want to spend energy and time listening to others, supporting them, and finding ways to satisfy both ends.
Whenever this temptation comes strong, we really need to take a pause and think about the big picture. Listen to what successful people who have gone before us have to say. We may live in a different era of history, but the core principle of success remains the same. Why? Because we are the same human. Deep down into what makes humans human, we share the never-changing elements irrespective of one's age, culture, socio-economic status, talents, etc.
Prioritize Teamwork and Succeed
There are numerous reasons why you must prioritize teamwork as well as install a healthy, productive culture of teamwork at your workplace. For this blog post, we've chosen the top three reasons why you must treat teamwork as precious jewels more than anything. These three reasons are not something entirely new so we're quite confident that they are something you've already heard of before. Still, we hope that they will renew your memory, rejuvenate your motivation and remind you of the urgency of it.
✅ Multiple Perspectives = Stronger Problem-solving Skills
We all have frames. In psychology, a frame represents a particular context for understanding or interpreting any given knowledge or circumstance. Framing is what creates a different perception among us even though we are presented with a piece of information that is based on the same facts.
Have you ever experienced that you and your teammate came up with different conclusions even though you two had exactly the same data or information? This is due to the framing effect. Because you and your colleague have unique life experiences, prior knowledge, personalities, value system, cultures, talents, etc., different interpretations easily happen.
Thinking of this aspect in regards to teamwork, working in teams can be immensely powerful because you can access multi-dimensional perspectives on any problem.
The famous old fable of an elephant and blind men might have had a much happier ending, had the men decided to cooperate, gathered all the observatory data, and inferred the final conclusion accordingly. In other words, without each other, without working together, we all run the risk of being doomed, ignorant blind men.
✅ Higher Innovation
How would you define 'innovation'? This word is commonly used in many workplaces but it seems like everyone has a different opinion about it.
For our interpretation of innovation (how ARS / Global Emergency Management views it), we would like to refer to two of our favourite quotes:
“Innovation is taking two things that exist and putting them together in a new way.“ - Tom Freston (Co-founder of MTV)
“Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.“ -Theodore Levitt (Renowned economist)
Innovation is doing things that are unusual, unheard of, and therefore highly likely uncomfortable. It means going out of the box, strategically and proactively.
Going back to our first point, teamwork enables us to be highly innovative. For you to try things that are not "like you", you need an external push. An external surprise (or "shock", to be blunter). And this can be accomplished through strong bonds within a team that consists of members with unique visions, gifts, and backgrounds.
✅ Let's Not Forget Our Emotion: "Morale"
At every marathon race, onlookers line up along the lane, and root for every runner passing by them. This effect often plays a big part in improving the runners' morale as well as actual records. When we are tired and want to give up, even a stranger's cheer can become a huge game changer.
We all encounter days when we are frustrated, unmotivated, and even depressed. This is perfectly natural. This is perfectly human.
What makes the difference between high performers and their counterparts is how resilient one is to be able to retrieve back to the 'normal' state.
When you have reliable someone who can scoop you up when you are sunken knee-deep in the mud of frustration, you are much quicker to get back on track.
Going back to the tree-forest analogy we talked about at the beginning of this article, trees are able to grow big and old because they are bonded with each other. In the same way, when we are bonded with our teammates, we are impressively stronger, wiser, and more resilient.
✅ There Is a Catch: Not Everyone is the Same!
Let's not completely ignore the elephant in the room. Most of us, if not all, have had bad experiences when we were hurt and betrayed by a coworker whom we once trusted. That painful memory can push us hard to shut off entirely, trying to avoid all forms of teamwork.
We don't blame you. You have every right to withdraw. Still, we hope that our words above were able to, to some degree, convince you to reconsider the value of teamwork, too precious to miss.
We hope to discuss this topic in the near future in a different blog post, but here is the rule of thumb: Don't compromise with getting the right people on your team.
Jim Collins, the author of the classic business book Good to Great emphasizes that you need to have the "right people" on the bus to thrive. If you have a wrong person on the bus, he/she will eventually kick out all the right people. When you know that your team is filled with the right people (mind you, it may take some time, longer than you'd anticipate), your sustaining success is very highly likely guaranteed.
✅ Need More Inspiration?
Working with others can be counterintuitive. When you intentionally work with others, you will need to restrain yourself not to take off at your own speed. You will need to constantly remind yourself to watch how others are doing and acknowledge that what you believe as the best solution may not actually be the best. It takes a high level of discipline, humility, and courage.
Teamwork is a hard road that only the committed may walk on. And only will they find the uncomparably remarkable treasure at the end of the road.
For your extra inspiration and motivation, we have compiled a list of great teamwork quotes you'd like to read and re-read every now and then. Print these out, put them on your office wall, and remind yourself of them for a better version of you and your team.
Strong Teamwork Quotes
If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself. - Henry Ford (American industrialist, business magnate, and founder of the Ford Motor Company)
If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. - Isaac Newton (Widely recognized as one of the greatest mathematicians and physicists of all time)
We rise by lifting others. - Robert Ingersoll (American politician and orator known as “the great agnostic”)
None of us is as smart as all of us. - Ken Blanchard (American author, business consultant, and motivational speaker)
Decency is avoiding disrespect, not avoiding disagreement. Integrity is trying to get it right, not being right. - Adam Grant (Psychology professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania)
I'm not the smartest fellow in the world, but I sure can pick smart colleagues. - Franklin D.Roosevelt (The 32nd president of the United States)
Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people. – Steve Jobs (Entrepreneur who co-founded Apple Computer)
A team is not a group of people who work together but a team is a group of people who trust each other. - Simon Sinek (British-American author and inspirational speaker)
Remember, teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability. – Patrick Lencioni (Co-founder of The Table Group and the pioneer of the organizational health movement)
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed. It is the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead (American cultural anthropologist)