The Jigsaw Puzzle that is Teamwork

Parents today have tons of opportunities to involve their kids in the community, including play groups, after school programs, church groups, gyms, and boy/girl scouts. Programs like the Boy/Girl Scouts have made a big difference in the lives of many men and women throughout the years, some have said that their experiences in those groups taught them more than what they learned in school, and prepared them better for the challenges of life and work than anything else had.

One of the things that programs like the Boy/Girl Scouts teach is how to work together peacefully. It may sound like a myth to you, but it’s true: people can learn how to work together well. It’s all about knowing how to communicate, knowing how to temper your reactions, understanding how people react and how to work with those reactions, knowing or being able to figure out what drives people, knowing when to step away, and being willing to work with and compromise both/all of your goals.

It’s our willingness and ability to work together that will determine what our future looks like, whether we’ll continue to destroy the planet and try to best each other or if we’ll choose to work towards a future that’s better for all of us. There’s more to life than the money we can make, success we can reach, and things we can gather. Until we can see that beyond the needs everyone has of being loved and needing food and a shelter, and start to understand that what matters to you may not matter to me, we’ll continue to struggle to work together.

Our differences are what make us stronger, not weaker. If you remember back to being a kid and doing jigsaw puzzles, no 2 pieces were exactly the same in size or shape or fit; you had to find the exact place a piece went or you would never finish it. But it’s the fact that they’re different and not uniform in size and shape that make the puzzle go together as well as it does: if all the pieces were squares the puzzle wouldn’t stay together well. Let’s appreciate our differences rather than trying to make everyone the same.

“To put yourself in another’s place requires real imagination, but by doing so each Girl Scout will be able to love among others happily.” Juliette Gordon Low

Employee Appreciation?

The first Friday of March each year is when business owners around the USA take the time to appreciate their employees. Employee recognition is something that should go on all year long, but too many businesses and leaders don’t realize or aren’t willing to see how blessed they are by the people they have working with them. They operate from the belief that their employees should be grateful they even have a job, abundantly thankful that they get to work with such an important company and that giving 200% is a given. They use days like these to make it look like they actually care and throw a few bones their employees’ way to pacify them for a time.

Now, I do believe that employees should be grateful to have a job and should give at least 100% while they’re working. But all too many companies do a really good job of making their employees miserable, and not wanting to give even a token attempt. Around the world there are horrible conditions in companies that not only threaten the sanity of workers but their physical health too. We’ve seen this in the building collapses and fires and breaches of chemicals or biological materials.

Many businesses have a long way to go in finding (or even attempting) the balance between empowering and caring for their employees and making money. Yes, work is work and does mean effort and time, and yes, there are some jobs that would fall under the “unpleasant” header just from what’s involved. But in respecting their employees as intelligent people, in taking precautions for their health, in being conscientious of their commitment and time, and in taking time to get to know them and their dreams, needs and career goals, businesses can go a long way to having employees who are willing to be part of the team and not just there to clock in and clock out, employees who are invested in the success of the business and happiness of its customers, and employees who don’t dream about the downfall of the company and its’ leaders but are excited about its future.

Without employees many businesses would not exist. If they are such a valuable resource isn’t it time that we sat down and worked out a better relationship than there currently is?

Think for Success

Success is something that most of us think about on a regular basis, whether it’s our success, someone else’s success or our kid’s success. We think often about how to reach our goals, what will help us be successful, and what we can do to have other people’s success. We like thinking about success more, but we think about our failures a lot too. We think about what we did wrong, and sometimes we can’t get past the wrong to what we can do different in the future so we don’t repeat the same failure.

Our success is often limited to our ability to believe we can do it and we can get there. If we believe it’s impossible it probably will be. But if we believe that we are powerful, capable beings, beings who are allowed to have and reach big dreams we’ll have a big portion of what’s necessary to help us reach those goals.

When we take the time to think things through, to make a plan, to dream up ideas, to research possible means of accomplishing and then to believe that we’re ready to make those dreams a reality, we’re more likely to see them come to fruition. Each of these steps brings you closer to guaranteed success, of course there’s never a 100% guarantee, but having done all these steps makes you more likely to realize it will or won’t work out, the steps to pursue, and whether there’s a need to do more research before taking any action to make sure that your dream could be a reality.

Thinking things through can take a lot of stress off communications, presentations and decision making, as well as reduce the likelihood of asking the wrong questions, or making snap judgments that will blow up in your face. Thinking a little more is also helpful in expanding your perspective. I’ve met too many people lately who assumed they had to be right and there was no possibility they were wrong or that there was another option. It made for some very uncomfortable conversations and some pissed off people. Take the time to think things through and you’ll find you have more success in general as well as more of the success you want and are enjoying life more than ever.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” Dr. Seuss