The Me in Team

Its officially time to worry.

Less than an hour before a big preso these were the thoughts running through my head.

We were pitching an idea to a client and it didn’t look good. I’d worked with the other team members before and, if I had thought more about those earlier experiences, I would not have worked with them again. I sat in on their last preso and it was a train wreck. No: I take that back. It was a train wreck in slow motion.

But for some reason I thought today would be better.

Not. Smart.

Although we ultimately completed today’s pitch its not likely we’ll hear back from the clients, at least not in a positive way. And while tempting to blame the rest of the team for the ineffective presentation enabling self-esteem this is really just rationalization and delusion of the worst type. Don’t do this kids.

We are smart adults. We make choices about career and education and politics and partners and we manage to get through the series of days leading to a lifetime one way or the other. We are not innocent or naive. We make our own bed.

So when we choose for whatever set of reasons to partner with others who have a less than stellar track record or skills we should not be surprised – nor claim ignorance – when the work product turns out crappy. Stupid is as stupid does.

Over the years I’ve found many of us are adept at critiquing the work product of others. No where does the art of second-guessing occur more readily and often than it does in the corporate world. We always know (conveniently, after-the-fact) what so-and-so should have said/done/argued/displayed, etc., etc.

As if.

What if we tried a slightly different tact?

What if we took that same incisive critique ability and turned it away from others and unto ourselves? I know: accountability – what a trip.

What if we analyzed our performance and contribution (in my case to the preso heading slowly yet inexorably and relentlessly off the cliff) to our team’s work looking not for the things others might have done differently but what we might have done? What if we owned our own behavior and managed that and stopped passing judgment on everyone else on the team?

The best athletes in the world after a match, game, run, etc., think not of savoring their finish, but of where they made errors or where they might make improvements. Think of that: premier performers think not of the result but of the process and what they will do personally to improve next time around.

For me the choice is clear. Whenever I am part of a team I will do my level best on the work product I control eschewing the tendency to critique others’. Want some input and ask for me for it? Yes, I’ll be glad to share some ideas. But absent that I’m going to focus on how I can do better work and stop carping about others.

There may not be an I in team, but there’s damn sure a Me, and I’m working on me.

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