A Year of Gifts
How many times have you declined someone’s offer of assistance because you thought you could do something faster yourself? Maybe you didn’t want to take the extra time on the front-end to show someone how to do something new, even if it would save you time in the long run. I’m certainly guilty of this. I say “guilty” because when we refuse to work with others, we miss out on so much.
Some people enjoy working with others as a team. Others prefer solo acts. Still others like a combination of the two. Which do you prefer? I think you find magic when you learn to strike a balance between the two approaches. There is a time and place for both.
There has been a movement in both schools and the workplace in recent years towards more collaborative environments. Walls are coming down—literally. Open spaces are meant to foster more interaction and idea sharing. Instead of rows of desks, many classrooms now utilize tables. Group projects are the norm in high school and college. The athletic field has always been a place where kids learned teamwork, but now, more than ever, kids are also learning to be team players in the classroom.
So why this big push for collaboration and teamwork? Well, obviously there is no denying a group of people with a diverse set of skills can accomplish more than a single individual.
We can all benefit from the expertise of others when we work together. Everyone brings something different to the table. I’m not a huge sports fan but there is no denying the life lessons people learn when they participate in team sports. They learn there are important dynamics in every team. There is give and take, leadership and following, a game plan, and usually lots and lots of practice. When a group comes together and truly functions as a team, they can accomplish great things.
Kids are learning this in the classroom, too. It takes more than intelligence and good study habits to succeed in academics these days. Being able to function well in group dynamics is an important part of students’ grades. If a stellar student finds themselves on a group with three other students that don’t really care about working on an assignment, the “A” student needs to figure out a way to motivate the rest of the group or they’ll all be negatively impacted. Welcome to a lesson in real life, kids!
So many things in life are better when we work at them as a team. Our homes are cleaner if everyone chips in. Raising kids takes a village. We get lots more done at work and enjoy it more if we are surrounded with a good group of co-workers. We accomplish our dreams so much faster if we seek help from others.
Why then, if there are so many benefits of teamwork, do we sometimes hesitate to participate? One reason, at least for me, is because I tend to be more of an introvert. This probably comes as no surprise since I enjoy working with numbers and words. I enjoy working alone. Working with a larger group doesn’t always feel comfortable for me. I suspect people with more extroverted tendencies also find some aspects of group work unappealing.
Relying on others can be scary. There is a loss of control. We open ourselves up to disappointment if we put ourselves in a position of vulnerability.
If we flip some of this thinking around though, we recognize working together can be fun. It can expand our horizons. It can even give us the opportunity to mentor others, to share our own expertise.
I do feel there is a time for solo work. While some people may be at their creative best in a boisterous group setting, others (like me) need quiet and a distraction free environment to go deep into that zone where flow happens.
Last summer I read a fascinating book by Cal Newport called “Deep Work – Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World”. He raises some very intriguing ideas. In our hyper-connected world full of noise, speed and constant change, those that are able to disconnect from the chaos for adequate periods of time to allow themselves to think and work deeply are a much needed yet rare commodity.
As the saying goes, Together Everyone Achieves More. Work with others for enjoyment, success and fulfillment. But also enjoy deep work on your own and strike that allusive balance to find contentment in your days. Enjoy your own company and the company of others. It shouldn’t be all or nothing. There is joy to be found in both. Balance will look different for everyone but finding what works for you is worth it! Enjoy! Kim
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!