Always be a team player

Ready for a fun fact this week? When I was in kindergarten, my parents received a report card that said “Doesn’t play well with others.”

Now, I had a whole lotta S’s and E’s - but social play had a pretty bold NI… and by that, I mean “Needs Improvement.”

The truth is, even at that age, I was adamant about doing my own thing. Or, sitting in a corner to read by myself.

I wish I could tell you grave lessons have been learned and that today, I’m much, much more chipper about working with a team. But, only part of that would be true.

I have learned a lot of lessons along the way, including how important it is to flex my “work in a group” skill, but I’m not nearly as chipper about it as I should be.

Group work was consistently a priority for most of my high school and college courses. And the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized that college was more about learning the roles we play in life... and had very little to do with grades and class.

I mean… think about it.

Think about every team you’ve ever been a part of - in school, college, work and extra curricular.

They all included:

- The big idea generator.

- The doer.

- The cheerleading contributor.

- The credit taker.

- The excuse maker.

Now, they may not have appeared all together at once… some could have been combined! The key to surviving, however, was figuring out who was who and how much work that meant for you! 

All joking aside (because there are way more roles for team members to play than those)… I tend to balance between the generator and the doer - falling more along the lines of doing.

Fun fact number two for the moment? I’m terrible at delegating.

TERRIBLE.

Which means I usually end up drowning in tasks that I should have long-ago delegated to someone else on the team.

So for someone who ends up carrying the load and who is terrible at delegating - you can imagine why I’m not as chipper.

But, at 30… I will own up to how important teamwork is and the importance of flexing the delegating ability.

I remember vividly working on a capstone project in college and being so mad about how little my group was performing. So of course, I went to the instructor.

“Can’t you make them do something?”

She simply smiled at me, patted me on my arm, and said - “Sam, figuring out how to deal with this situation is going to be the best life lesson. You will not get to pick your colleagues.”

I remember being so aggravated by her response… but good gosh, how true that statement was! It’s also a statement I pass along to every student I come into contact with, now.

Like so many of you, I’ve been on those teams that weren’t all that great and that left me feeling drained and miserable.

But thankfully, I’ve also been able to work with several teams and play a role on boards and committees that have pulled off incredible contributions to our community.

Over the last six months, I’ve spent time with two different groups to pull of some remarkable projects - The Children’s Center Classic 5K/10K and the state conference for the Public Relations Association of Mississippi.

One yielded more than $25,000 for The Children’s Center for Communication and Development and the other brought in regional talent for a professional development experience that was attended by more than 150 people.

While both had their fair share of obstacles, bumps, and bruises - the end product was well worth the journey.

The excitement, feedback, and joy experienced was a huge point of pride for what was accomplished - none of which could have been done on my own. Every single detail fell to the hands of a team and together, we succeeded.

Simon Sinek often states that a team is not a group of people who work together - but is more of a group of people who trust each other.

I think that’s the difference maker.

Trust.

When we value a person’s role and allow people to work within the width and depth of his or her strengths - great things can happen.

It also helps if every member on the team is dialed in with buy-in for the cause or effect.

Real talk - playing well with others is still not a strength of mine. But, I am learning daily how to be better… and that’s the important part.

Because if we aren’t using every opportunity to learn more and to be and do better - then we’re missing out on opportunities that will abound for years to come.

When Samantha isn’t learning how to be a better team player, she can still be found in a corner reading by herself. Currently on deck is “Deskbound: Standing Up to a Sitting World” by Kelly Starrett.  If something Sam mentioned made you laugh, cry or yell in anger - let her know at mccainsam@gmail.com or www.facebook.com/mccainsam.