Quint Studer, author of Building a Vibrant Community: How Citizen-Powered Change Is Reshaping America has traveled across America observing communities, from the smallest towns to the largest cities. As he interacts with so many diverse Americans, he has seen a predominant theme: People who work together, win together. “In communities where people come together, put their self-interest on the back burner and work as a team, things get done,” he says. “In communities that don’t, nothing gets done. It’s really that simple.”
It’s definitely a lesson to think about as we approach Independence Day here in America. Our ancestors settled down in small communities where they worked together, shared what they had, and leaned on one another when times were tough. On the larger stage, our nation’s founders had to work together in a similar fashion when they decided to establish America.
We can learn so much from them about teamwork and collaboration in the workplace, starting with these three important lessons:
HISTORY LESSON #1: Set aside your personal agenda
Our founders set aside their self-interests and created something that worked for everyone. Lots of different professions, industries, and interests were present at the birth of America. Cabinet makers weren’t fixated only on the wood industry, nor silver smiths on the silver trade. Everyone was fired up to contribute to something bigger than themselves. They bought into the overarching mission, and weren’t bogged down by endless debate over the short-term costs of their plan of action.
Takeaway: Don’t be overly concerned with your own well-being. Setting aside your own short-term best interests may accomplish far more for everyone in the long run. Because a rising tide lifts all boats, this includes you.
HISTORY LESSON #2: Don’t let ideological differences prevent success
Despite differences of opinion, and even bitter disputes, a group of people with little in common other than a shared determination to affect change mobilized and got something done. While there was much to be decided about the way things would function in the new nation, they all recognized that there wouldn’t even BE a new nation if they didn’t set aside their disagreements and move the ball down the court.
Takeaway: Know what matters. Don’t get bogged down by petty disputes about how things should get done and let it sabotage the greater task at hand.
HISTORY LESSON #3: Share the spotlight
They weren’t constantly trying to steal the spotlight from one another. Instead, they agreed to let someone else be “the one in charge.”The founders kept their focus on the ambitious mission/vision of standing up to one of the most powerful authorities in the world: the King of England.
Takeaway: Don’t always try to make it about yourself, or worry that your teammates are getting the spotlight. Keep the greater goal in mind and stay focused on that.
“No one is saying America’s founders were perfect,” reflects Studer. “They were far from it, as we are. But one thing they got right was the knowledge that they needed to work together for a common cause. Teamwork is a powerful force. We couldn’t have built a nation without it, and we can’t build a better [team or organization] without it either.”
Quint Studer is author of Building a Vibrant Community and founder of Pensacola’s Studer Community Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on improving the community’s quality of life and moving Escambia and Santa Rosa counties forward. He is a businessman, a visionary, an entrepreneur, and a mentor to many. He currently serves as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of West Florida. For more information, visitwww.vibrantcommunityblueprint.