The Team Vibe

It’s just the vibe. You know, the vibe.

When we start working on a project, at work or at home, what makes it a true success? Surely, having the end result display the only imagined prior vision means that there was some modicum of success. Yet, the steps along the way to success are just as important, are they not? Was there a plan, step by step instructions? Do we have the right tools? Do we have the right people?

So, as I sit here in our lovely old house, with two dogs at my feet, and find myself spending an entire night alone without my wife, I have to say it is not the feeling of my youth where being alone was an achievement in independence and maturity. I find myself wanting to be productive, clean something, wash something, rearrange the furniture maybe? There is a dormant instinct fighting to come out that says, you can make all the choices now. And there’s the other side of the brain that tells me by being productive, I will earn extra points when the wife does come home and finds the dishes washed, clothes folded, and carpet swept.

The fact is, although I always love impressing my wife with domestic skills, or want to be independent and alone, it is the teamwork that I love more today than when I was half my age. Take cooking. On weekends, I will often prepare the meat while my wife prepares the sides. Cleaning: I wash, she dries or vice versa if the mood strikes. Laundry: I throw clothes in the bin, she washes the clothes. Perhaps that last is not as much teamwork as it should. But the point is, we work as a team. After sixteen years of marriage, our team wins awards for coordination, effort, and communication. It is not perfect, but as my grandfather would say, “it’s per-ta-near.”

This past week I witnessed several team efforts. Interestingly, there is a strong difference between team dynamics whether your team wear’s a suit or jeans and a t-shirt. The suits are paid to think and to talk. Most talk more than they think, but that truth can be saved for another time. As the suits talk, they expect action, organization, and success. I suppose that in my position at work, I am paid at the suit level, yet as written before, I rather like to get my hands dirty. And in action, I speak more than any verbal decree. As it were, the actions taken this week when the right people were together, a great deal of achievement was made on the plant floor. We worked silently, other than the casual quip or verbal jab in good fun. A rhythm was created on the job and each person worked their assigned duty skillfully, showing that a good team is born from trust in one another.

In another example, I paid a suit’s salary to have a new roof put on our old house. The job wasn’t left without issue, but as my wife and I watched this large team of skilled workers labor late into the evening, you cannot fault their work ethic and coordination. One worker would pass the shingle to the next who would nail it in. A distinct pattern emerged, with almost a predictable percussive beat by the nail gun. In the end, the entire roof was stripped and rebuilt within a day. A suit’s salary gone in fourteen hours of hard labor.

Trust. That is what the suits lack. At the suit level, they talk about being teams, announcing to an organization within emails or on conference calls, and always starting their statements with the word: “Team”. They talk of solidarity, but they often lack true trust in their so named team members. A customer calls on a vendor, befriending them by saying they are part of the “Team”. Unfortunately, what they are really saying is far worse. They are using a word so pure in its design and making it manipulative – one sided – greedy. The suits, well, they have a different perspective of teams. Not all suits are intentionally this way, being caught up in the culture of being a suit, an expectation of mannerism develops and the world has grown to accept. It happens at all levels, from military generals, to politicians, CEO’s, dictators, Kings and Queens. And trust, unfortunately, can so easily be lost in the fog while trying to steer the ship across rocky shoals.

And that’s why, at the end of the day, I will keep putting on my jeans, keeping my shirt untucked, hug and love my favorite team member – my wife – and continue to show what can be really accomplished when the right crew works cohesively.

That’s creating the right vibe.

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