"There's this book on the Kindle," the man on the phone says, consulting his brain for the title and giving it to me.
"Yeah, I read the description," I muse, "but it didn't call to me."
"You know, I thought she did a great job," he says casually. "On a level, it helped put some things into words for me."
I know enough about the story's premise to instantly recognize the subtext of what he is saying.
He is saying that reading it will give me a glimpse of the world through his eyes.
"Well, I'm between books at the moment," I say. "So maybe I'll read it."
"Nice," he says. "I'd love to have someone to talk about it with."
Several days later...
In the golden afternoon hours when it's still too hot in Cartagena to venture outside, but cool enough to open the double doors onto the shaded balcony and let in the melodic cries of the agua guy, I curl up in a cushioned wicker chair to read...
And immediately want to stop reading.
I feel an almost instant aversion to this story, which opens with a series of sobering statistics that no woman over 30 wants to think about.
Also, I feel inexplicably annoyed by the writing style -- which feels spare and forced, un-used to itself, like a translation; the voice somehow feels too cold for the raw subjects it raises.
By the time I am halfway through, I am sighing aloud and complaining to Bruce that it feels like work to keep reading.
"So don't read it," Bruce replies. "He'll forgive you."
"I know," I sigh. "That's not the point."
The point is: the man on the phone is a member of my team; my personal and professional advisory board.
Your "team" is your chosen inner circle; the people to whom you turn for perspective and challenge and insight, particularly when facing new problems to solve and opportunities to realize.
Having a team shows up differently for different people.
Some people (younger Jessica among them) choose to see themselves as loners, and thus their vision and contribution will be limited to the scale at which they can see and do alone.
Perhaps you've inherited a team through the fact of your employment, and must find a way to play with pre-determined others, according to a set of pre-determined rules.
Still others must build their teams from scratch, one person at a time, around a shared understanding or goal.
Whether formally (by hiring employees) or informally (by finding tribes and collaborators), this latter category is the one my clients mostly fall into.
They tend to be the ones building the sandboxes and inviting people to play in them, versus the ones playing by the rules of those that already exist.
And thus the question of how to build an effective team gets raised more often than you might think.
Lately, a few conversations have veered toward the value of finding teammates who see the world differently from you.
Which is MUCH harder than it might seem at first, because every human has their blind spots...
And every human is naturally attracted to humans who are similar to themselves...
So the overwhelming temptation is to pick teammates in whose stories we see a piece of ourselves.
Which, although fun in the short term, can have disastrous long-term impacts on our projects and businesses.
But more on that in a future post!
For now -- as I sit digesting a story I nearly abandoned multiple times, and which became suddenly relevant 85% of the way through, building to a crescendo of impact at 99%...
I am reflecting on that fact that -- wherever and however you define your team -- what matters is the commitment this entails, to looking through the different lenses they bring.
Whether lovingly built, or merely agreed to; commitment to a team of any kind is the commitment to seeking out and valuing perspectives that are different from yours.
In the hope of getting out of the hamster wheel of your own head...
In the hope of co-creating a shared understanding...
That can bridge individual differences, and bring us closer to transcendence.
Which, by the way, is hard work!
But it's the only way that really big and awesome things can get accomplished.
And importantly, it tends to be in those moments when we feel aversion toward that other perspective...
When it comes in a voice that annoys us...
Or when we're not yet convinced we'll find it relevant...
That we are effectively being invited to grow into a bigger person.
A person with the capacity to hold space for -- and thus, to embody and create -- more than we otherwise could, if left to our own small devices.
Of course, the question of whether to accept or reject such an invitation... is only always yours to decide!
Where, and how, do you find YOUR team?
And how does your commitment to them help you to think and act bigger -- than you could alone?