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The unbearable thoughtfulness of TEAM

There are times when we, as humans, face a situation that we may have contemplated before, that we may even have addressed in our speeches, in our trainings, our programs, and other instances.  It’s those times when we come face to face with the reality of what we have been teaching or preaching that we get to take time to reflect and – if needed – adjust.

So, this is me having to face such a situation and being touched to the core by it. In other words: yes – I was right in theory and maybe – just maybe – I am also on the right track theoretically.

Hoping I raised your interest let me dive into the subject matter at hand:  As you know, especially if you are a consultant/coach like me or in a managerial / leadership position on a company, in the past few years we have heard a lot of conversation and discussion about the meaning of teams and how to put good teams together.  As with anything and everything, there are many theories and most of them seem to agree that a person in charge without a team is …. Well, not a leader; and that a company without working teams is … well, not profitable or sustainable.  

In my line of work, whether in the administration of an educational institution, executive director for a global organization, CEO of a SAAS company, VP of Operations for a global news outlet and movement, or simply as a business consultant one of my foci when talking and working has always been on teams.  Yes, I also devised a training program for leaders and teams for corporations with the emphasis on what I call the “Three Rs” and the value of each individual in the team.  While all that is good and well, I have now had an experience with a team that I can reflect upon as “the unbearable humanity of team.”

Teams are made up on individuals.  Individuals come with their own patterns, their own beliefs, their own preferences, their own issues, and their own opinions.  This is particularly true in the team that I joined and then started to take more responsibility for this year.  This team is special in many was as everyone’s opinion is quite visible – after all, these are columnists and experts that speak on various issues in stream of platforms constantly.  This means, there is no secret as to who is thinking what and the person who started to put this team together emphasizes the need for “no censorship” in what any team member publishes.  Just be true, honest, in integrity, and provide some research and insight if possible.  Being a columnist allows you the freedom to share your thoughts and that’s what the individuals in this team do – all coupled with their unique expertise added to the columns and articles.  You an imagine that, in a time and place like 2020 in the US, having different opinions might normally cause some major hiccups; but:  not here.  Everyone respects the others – even if discussions can get heated.  There is respect and understanding and a belief in the value of each other and what each other brings to the table.

Obviously, this is already unique in many ways and it is something that I have been fostering and working on creating and maintaining all my life.  Maybe that is due to my European upbringing – as I like to claim sometimes – and my background as a historian where we are taught to listen and learn and then make decisions based on facts not emotions.  Who knows, it’s just who I am, and I love providing space where this kind of interaction occurs and the support for one-another is fostered at the same time.  This type of team is a sign, a symbol, a demonstration of what is possible when we respect one another.  It’s a beautiful thing to see, be a part of help grow and see flourish. 

That said, for me, the next thing that happened was a bit more challenging to accept.  Having come in somewhat later than some of the existing team members I admit I was concerned at times over the past couple of months as I was taking on more responsibilities and I tried to make sure to always include everyone.  Being a little “newer” to some of the team members I just did not want to seem pushy – that’s just not who I am.

So, here I was, and the unbearable humanity of team came through when I encountered a personal situation where I had to make a quick decision and be out of touch for a week.  Only one person (the publisher himself ) knew what was going on as I am always trying to maintain private vs business whenever possible.  This person, Moe Rock, supported me and checked in me almost every day and I know that is not necessarily his style.  It was strange and yet comforting and showed me what I had been preaching: each team member is valued.  I felt valued.  Then he asked if he could share what was going on in general, without details, to add to the positive energy that would support me and the situation.  I was hesitant.  I don’t easily accept help though I know it’s crucial to ask and receive instead of just giving (I am really great at the latter).  So, I agreed… grudgingly.  What I now experienced was… grace!  Or the unbearable kindness of team. Every single team member, of all different opinions and religions and backgrounds, took time to send me words of support.  I teared up because this was the evidence, I had sought about the importance of valuing every team member and at the same time it forced me to accept the support of others, be vulnerable as a leader as well.  It felt awkward.  It felt big. It feels… right. 

I appreciate the opportunity to experience – however grudgingly – the unbearable kindness of team in more ways than I can express.  So, I want to thank the team I am honored and humbled to be a part of, the team of The Los Angeles Tribune
I also want to mention that this was huge and while this was enormous other individuals from teams that I led or lead showed the same unbearable thoughtfulness of team; thank you iDue Systems and all those individuals I know I don’t have to name. 
I am so grateful and all this, this humanity that I was allowed to experience this month, is a sign for me that highlights what this year was (and still is) about for me: humanity, gratitude, grace, trust, and faith.

More about that later – maybe. Right now, I just hope that everyone gets to have an experience like mine.  It will open your ability to receive and to relate to others on a level that is more important than all that “stuff.” This is what a team needs to be all about: a shared mission and shared values about each other. That is also, clearly, what the Tribune stands for and showcases every day.

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