“Testing oneself is best when done alone.” – Jimmy Carter
I remember throwing grapes at the TV as a spoiled teenager when a Jimmy Carter speech pre-empted my favorite show. I’d like to throw grapes at this quote.
I’ve grown to love Jimmy Carter. More than any other, he’s used his presence as an ex-President to do good in the world, to fight for peace and what’s right. And he hasn’t done it alone. He’s been surrounded the entire time by family, friends and allies. While I’m sure new wisdom has emerged during times of solitude, what brought that wisdom alive was sharing it with his team. They vetted it, elaborated on it, created new venues from which to broadcast it, and amplified the message. The test came when he was not alone.
“We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness.” – Albert Schweitzer
As a solo entrepreneur, I feel sometimes like it’s a solitary quest. When things are clicking, it’s easy to share news of our successes and feel connected to our community. When they’re not, that feeling of “dying of loneliness” is ready to take over. But nothing changed.
Everyone feels alone, and most of the time we aren’t. There’s someone available to help. There’s someone who has the answers. There’s someone thinking of us, rooting for us, hoping for our dream to come true.
We’ve got our posse, our team, our crew. Always. They’re always there for us even if they’re thousands of miles away. Some of them are lurkers, rooting for us invisibly. The woo-woo folks would say sending us energy (or worse, manifesting vibrations). Others are waiting to spring into action. They might need to know what to do, or they might already have the idea we need. They’re just waiting for us to ask “what do you think about…x?”
My posse – those who love me, those who believe in me as a coach, those who see the insight I bring to organizations and individuals – is always there. They don’t slink out the door at the slightest whiff of difficulty. Nor do they all know when each victory happens. It’s me who sees my posse or turns a blind eye to them. And it’s me who lets them in, who gives them the good news and shares the setbacks, knowing they are with me either way. It’s on me. My posse’s got my back.
“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together becomes reality.” – John Lennon
John Lennon was so good at breaking things down to their simplest essence. The collective experience is what makes things come alive. As an introvert, I’ll never leave behind internal joy I get from experiences, but as a human I am learning that a hidden quest has little power. Solitude can be invaluable, especially for us introverts. And the value is magnified when we meet up later with our posse. By sharing our quests, we have a team on our side. We have people rooting us on. As important, we have a team that can make things happen, can make them reality. Our team has networks. They have skills. They have insight. Our team makes us better and allows our dream to flourish.
” Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford
I have pursued mostly individual sports throughout the years, but the sport where I have had greatest success is a team sport. Small teams. Two or three players. To win at the highest level, you can’t hide. Whether I was a role player or the star, performance suffered when doubt walked on the field with us. The relaxation, comfort and inspiration of knowing my teammates had my back was key to accessing the highest level of performance.
Dave Lewis and I teamed up for 12 years and 9 world championship titles. We knew our games and brains inside and out. We had each other’s back. When one of us was off, we looked out for the other. We’d do what we needed to get the best team performance. We’d do what our intuition told us our teammate needed in order to snap back into the zone. Sometimes that was creating a relaxed space if Dave was off. Sometimes it was doing an insane move, looking him in the eye and getting him pumped up and ready to do his own insane move. He did the same for me. We had each other’s back.
We see the absence of this all the time in every sport. Teams without trust playing far below their potential. Teams working together, flowing, operating as a unit transcending the talents of the individual team members, the whole infinitely greater than the sum of its parts.
“Love is being stupid together.” – Paul Valery
It’s an awful feeling. To feel failure or embarrassment or humiliation. To be called out as stupid. To wonder “what if?” But when people have our back, they share that experience, dilute it, deflect it, and even transform it. There’s something freeing and wonderful about releasing resistance and simply becoming part of our team. Being in the moment with them. Contributing. Failing. Persevering. Thriving. Breaking through to triumph. Being stupid together. Having each other’s backs.
You have not been abandoned. You are never alone, except by your own choice.” – Jonathan Lockwood Huie
We’re not alone. Unless we choose. And our challenge is to choose to be with our team. To choose connection. To access their power. To choose to share the journey.
Who’s got your back?
(This article was originally published on arthurcoddington.com)