By TJ Medel – Second City Works Facilitator
Let’s be real for a minute. It’s hard to get out of our own way. I can’t tell you how many times I’m on stage and I always feel like my idea is no good. That it will get judged. That I won’t be as funny as I’m supposed to be. I’ll start getting in my head and fall into that quicksand and, just as I begin to suffocate on stage, a hand comes out to me and reminds me that I’m amazing.
These helping hands belongs to the other players on stage. They remind me that I’m okay. That my idea is worth playing with and exploring. With their help, I’m able to join in on the fun that all my friends are creating. That environment that we create on stage welcomes ideas to be celebrated.
Today, we all double-down on knowing the answer to everything. We have an encyclopedia-on-steroids in the palm of our hands with what is called a “smart phone.” Why is it important to invite others to contribute when everyone is on the same playing field in terms of knowledge?
Creating a comfortable, collaborative environment encourages innovation for any project. We’ve become so accustomed to the work being done for us through technology that when a human exchange is needed, we freeze up. When there’s no script, I think twice. We all get in our heads. It happens. But when my team sees me struggle, they ask me to speak up and speak out. They encourage me to keep taking shots and no matter what happens they’ll keep giving me chances to make a sweet layup.
We all lead. We all follow. And a good team member is able to do both.
That color that you were thinking would look good in that presentation may not make it to the foreground, but the background would definitely be nothing without it. Your piece of the dream is needed in order for a team to make progress.
As a child of sports, one thing that sticks out more than the superstars on any team is the culture that the team creates. Does the bench go wild when someone scores or do they just clap hands and keep their energy reserved? You can watch what’s on the court but you find out way more when you observe the attitude of everyone on the bench.
When you’re at work do you know everyone’s name or are you a right-to-my-desk type person? Do you like to share your day or are you someone that asks everyone how their day is going?
Genuine interactions on the little things help build comfort towards the bigger tasks in the long run. Putting names to faces and following through with the connections organically builds trust. To have individuals in the workplace who raise the morale and make it an inviting area for everyone creates more opportunities for collaboration. All of these things raise the level of self awareness in a group.
When working in a group we must always remember that no matter how many times we work with the individuals in them, it will always be a new experience for everyone. When we work with the same group over and over again we begin to get comfortable. We find the rhythm of the work ethic. What we fail to see is that if we get too comfortable with one individual, then we don’t give others the opportunity to flourish.
So as we move forward into new and ground breaking work, keep in mind that the more you open up the creative space and invite others in, the more eclectic sets of feedback you’ll get on any journey you go on.
In my career I have always made it a point to be inclusive while I work with diverse individuals. I check in with them to make sure that they feel well represented in all levels of the creative process. With each obstacle we come across, I invite a separate diverse group of outside eyes to make sure we’re all on the same page moving forward. And to finalize, and this is very important, I always throw a pizza party to celebrate our ability to come out of another process stronger and even more self aware.
Always throw pizza parties friends. Food brings everyone together.