…but there is an ‘M’ and an ‘E’… was always my response when people threw this hackneyed phrase at me in some training session. Not because I didn’t believe in working in teams, but just to make light of the laziness of using a saying to try to give emphasis to an agenda.
When I left my company after 10 years, I had already been through changes in my involvement in teams as I stepped down from managing one and became part of it and then moved into a new team, a very dysfunctional one. This all happened in 11 months so you’d think I would have had teams on my mind, but I was preoccupied with being ill plus I’ve always leaned slightly more towards the negatively motivated side of action. I will stick with a situation until it becomes clearly obvious that there is no more to be done and then I will cut and run. Often very fast and without much thought about the future because I know it’s time to get out. Before this, I had been heavily involved in thinking about the direction of the team and my part in that as well as setting goals, assessing and reassessing targets. I worked closely with my assistant manager and we talked honestly about each member of the team and what we could do to help them or shape behaviour.
So when I left the company, I put a lot of effort into making sure my clients were not inconvenienced and to looking for options for the future and I didn’t notice that I had become my only motivator and that my inner thoughts and self-talk was the stuff that I was relying on to get me by. Add to that a chronic undiagnosed illness and a fairly negative exit from the company and you might get a picture of the tune I was listening to.
I hadn’t understood the affect of this until yesterday (you never miss your water till you’re dry right?) I stumbled upon a live broadcast on Facebook that one of my new colleagues had commented on. The broadcast was in progress so I clicked for a listen and ended up spending about 15 minutes listening to Jairek Robbins talk about what it’s like to be a solo-preneur providing your own mission, purpose and tasks as well as motivation and feedback. Suddenly it clicked! It was probably the use of those well-used terms mission, purpose and tasks that clicked my work-brain into life and suddenly I heard like a real voice all the crappy stuff that my negative brain had been telling me… it was like a nasty lady talking in my ear with things like ‘you’re never gonna make it as a travel agent on your own, you’ve made the stupidest decision, and if you can’t even do that, you’re not gonna make it as a write either pffft!’ and on and on and I suddenly realised that I’ve been the worst team leader for myself that I possibly could be – focusing on all my negatives and driving them to the front of consciousness so I would dwell on them.
Jairek spoke about how you must not devalue what it is that you do and while from his point of view it might have been business tasks I could relate to it in the way I’ve been devaluing what I can achieve. The last year has been one of limitation, fatigue and illness along with fuzzy brain and I’ve added to that a negative voice devaluing everything from gardening to spending time with my daughter. I somehow had led myself to believe that because I could no longer run a team or work in the other one, that anything else was not worthy and because I had not been the one to choose this path, that therefore everything else I was managing to do had no point to it. Sounds completely ridiculous to read this when it’s in print but it’s so easy to let seep into my thoughts. It was, to put it in another hackneyed phrase, a light bulb moment.
Time to send myself on a training course to update my skills and recognise that the most important person in this TEAM is ME.