Lately the word team has been all around me. Professionally, personally and sometimes a combination of the two. Last week as I closed my laptop after my third 8-hour marathon Skype session in 3 days putting the finishing touches on what had become a massive consulting project, I closed my eyes and put my head in hands: I was tired. As with every large team project you get to a point where all you can do is hope that it works. You hope that all the work, long hours and fine-tuning will pay off. In the end of a long process we had come together as a team and put together what we all hoped would be a result that would knock the socks off the client. In addition, the fact that the presentation went amazing and the end client and my client who is also a friend were beyond happy, for me, it was the sense of teamwork that gave me such great joy. At that point, on that day, it was a one-off reminder but then today, I was reminded of the much longer-term effects of teams and that my “teams” are everywhere.
What is it about a team that buoys us? That if it’s just the right mix of people, passion and vision, almost anything can be achieved…and I suppose, what team gives me, is hope. Hope that we aren’t alone that even in times of great challenge we have people ready to rally to step in when needed and Two nights ago as I had drinks with a mom who I had just met and was in the very early days of her special needs journey, I found myself talking about needing a team and having a team and how that can make all the difference.
Having grown up playing volleyball, basketball and tennis I learned early on about the value of teams. The value went far beyond just camaraderie and high-fives. It taught me dedication, hard-work, perseverance, setting others up to shine, that winning wasn’t always everything and most importantly I learned true kindness and altruism.
As a youngster, I was always a good athlete and as result perhaps a little overly competitive (hmmm, have things changed much?). Outside of thrill of competition, the sport itself gave me a goal and in many cases as escape to just be me. My parents were always very supportive of my love of sports and because we didn’t have a lot means, there was often an awkward moment every year where my parents would have to decide how and if I would be able to go to camp like the rest of my teammates. Looking back now, even as I type this, my heart is filled with gratitude for the love and compassion I received when we didn’t have enough. I had coaches that would pay from their own pockets so I could go to summer camp and friend’s parents who would take me with them and never say a word about food or gas or any other discretionary items. We were never asked to repay this kindness and to this day some of my most fond memories are with my friends and during these days. 7 of my former teammates are still my very best friends and to them and their families I am forever grateful.
Now as adult, I have had the privilege to work with many great teams of people. Even my last trip to Miami that I wrote about in “The Air of Possibility,” the team of people made the trip just what I needed. While we worked hard and long hours we laughed and talked for hours about all sorts of topics. It’s these times when work colleagues become friends and you cross boundaries from “who you think I am” to “who we are really are.” Professional becomes personal because emotions are just that, personal. The feeling of friendship, joy, laughter, empathy and realness that comes when you are part of a great team can make the greatest of professional successes very personal.
Two nights ago as I sat with this mom, I shared stories of our other team. Our team of doctors, therapists, case workers, teachers, and friends who have become my giants. Through everything we have been through I always find myself feeling a bit small and unsure but standing on their shoulders I have learned a great deal. I have been able to find my voice and even through the unknown have learned to trust my own instincts. Even during stretches like I have recently described where I have a persistent undercurrent of anxiety and fear swells beneath the surface I know that we will prevail as a team. We have started this together, and although in just 2 short months E and Q will be 3 and a whole new phase will begin for us, I also know that from these wonderful, loving and supportive people I have learned and will continue to learn so very much.
Yesterday, as E’s Physical Therapist S walked by our screen door on the way to the front door, she stopped to watch as E’s speech therapist and I loudly and enthusiastically shouted..”HHHHHIIIIIII” to the jack in the box I was holding in my hands. E for the first time ever made a similar sound. Trying so hard to mirror a vocalization that was timely and sound appropriate. As S watched through the screen door, we did the same thing to her and E made the sound again. Once S came inside, the therapists compared notes and excitedly talked about her progress. This was our team in action.
People often tell me through this blog and in person that I seem like I have it all together. I am sure at times they are just being kind to give me the pat on the back that will brighten my day; but, for those that believe we have to be perfect, to keep all the balls in the air, to make it all work everyday, the irony in that is that “I” cannot do anything that “I” do alone. Without family, friends, colleagues, doctors, therapists, case workers, fellow parents, fellow bloggers, and readers I am small. You are all the giants on whose shoulders I stand that allows me to do the best I can in the best way I know how, so today, I thank you. Thank you for being on my team. For allowing to lead and allowing me to quietly follow when I need too. I can never repay your kindness but know that I am eternally grateful to you and I hope that today you take this knowledge and let my gratitude settle over you and let that moment make today ‘yournewfavoriteday,’ for you help in every way with all of your little gestures and kindness make each day ‘mynewfavoriteday.’
Featured image shared from coachgiorgio.com