Teamwork Gone Wrong

Monday, July 12, 2010

Camels are herd animals. These camels are in perfect harmony as they pose for the tourists at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

Why can't we all be like that?

Back in college, I took "Introduction to Sociology." The only way to get an A was to do a project, but it didn't have to be done well. Just done.

The teacher divided us into project teams, and we set to work. One member of my team was very outspoken, and his ideas were awful. Unfortunately, no one was willing to stand up to him. An awful idea carried through would still have gotten me an A, but my work ethic wouldn't accept anything less than my best. And this wasn't it.

Those of you who know me today may find it hard to believe, but at that point in my life I was a timid person who never stood up for myself. So it took extreme frustration to make me crack.

But crack I did. I asked the teacher if I could do an individual project (in a class involving the study of groups, no less). She said I could, so I told the team that I wasn't going to participate any more. I could tell the other members were shocked, but I didn't care. I simply couldn't handle the person who tried to dominate the group.

Today, I'm that person.

Well, not completely. I do try to listen to other people's opinions, and I often use their suggestions because I know they are better than my own. But I still can't stand incompetence.

Or people who always have to have their own way.

I have learned something over the years, though. Sometimes quitting isn't an option. Disagreeable people are a fact of life, and it is impossible to avoid them. Better to stick with it, give in graciously on the little things, and fight for the big ones. Because when I walk away, I silence my voice. And what if it is the only voice of reason?

Imagine how much I would have learned about groups if I'd stuck with the sociology team. I thought walking away took courage, but it was really the coward's way out.

So if you are discouraged and ready to quit, think about the void you'll create.

(A personal message to the person who inspired this post: please don't quit. We need your voice to keep us on track.)

Because every voice counts.

1 comment:

kare anderson said...

Wise post Kathryn. Here's some truths I've found for fruitful teamwork

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