When U of M running star, Vince Smith, started his nonprofit, Team Gardens (www.teamgardens.org), he not only put “team” in the name, but also partnered with marketing pro, Sonya Sutherland, and several NFL friends from his home town, Pahokee, Florida.
We shouldn’t be surprised at this. Even Jim Harbaugh cannot beat “Ohio” alone.
One of the myths that people often hold dear is that they are solely responsible for their own success. But today, there is more and more acceptance of the notion that if you are going to succeed, it will not be alone, but within a community, or a group of other committed souls.
Today, it is incumbent that we seek out and rely on social connections to a far greater extent than we did even a few decades ago. Think about the success of online networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. If you accept that most things are accomplished with a “team,” it’s clear that you must think about who will accompany you on your journey, who will support you and help fill in the gaps. This takes on even greater importance during tough times. If you lose your job, your network might help you find a new one. It is awful to be sick, alone. Isolated people have a much harder time of it. Research shows they are less healthy than people with strong social support systems.
If you are launching a new venture, your network needn’t just be work colleagues. You might find supportive people anywhere, for example, in your bowling league or your investment club or those with whom you worship.
Now try this exercise: Think of an important goal you are trying to achieve or a problem you are trying to overcome. Please consider the following questions as you select your support team.
1. First, have you identified others who can support you in your endeavor?
2. Have you clearly communicated to them specifically how you are relying on them for help?
3. Is your support team diverse enough to give you opinions different than your own?
4. Are you both clear that they have agreed to help?
5. Are they acquainted with the other people on your team who are also trying to help you?
6. Are you both clear how they will be rewarded? Do they expect something in return or are they helping out of the goodness of their heart? Are you each clear about this expectation about the reward?
7. Do they know how you would like to receive help?
8. Are they free to give you honest feedback?
9. Are they free to speak up if they feel they’re being underutilized, misused, or exploited?
10. Do you have an agreement about how you will talk to each other if things do not go well?
All of us have both organized support teams and been members of support teams. Please offer your own suggestions to consider.