3 Essential Elements of Any Great Team And How to Build Them

Working on a team is challenging, even if all the members are seasoned professionals. This year our team consists of several new interns and staff that have never spent time in our location before. Here’s what we are planning to do — things¬†any team¬†can do¬†— to promote clarity, build camaraderie, and develop trust as we step out into another year of work.

Trust

Trust is perhaps the most basic building block for success in any team environment. It’s like air — when we have lots of it, so many things are possible; when we don’t have it, even the simplest things are hard. Here are a couple of things I think build trust in the early going, when you haven’t yet had time to get to know each other well.

Talk about things you value.

Everyone has things that they think are important, and talking about those things will help everyone to get to know one another. At the very least, it will get everyone talking — and talking about something more significant than the weather or the Braves game.

Open your home.

Whether you are a leader or just a team member, I believe inviting colleagues over can be a great first step toward success. It can be for a meal or just a cup of coffee, but putting yourself in a position where you can host others for a couple hours really helps break the ice and get people comfortable with each other.

Camaraderie

It would be a great group activity to see who can spell the word “camaraderie”, for some kind of cash reward. Camaraderie is easier to define, though, and it is something every team needs in order to be successful. When you achieve camaraderie, a group becomes a team, coworkers become friends, and everything becomes possible. Here are a couple ideas:

Attend a social event together.

The day after our team arrives, thousands of people will descend on Mostar for the fourth annual Mostar Cliff Diving competition, in which world-class divers come to jump from Mostar’s old bridge. It’s a magical time, the streets are full, and it’s the perfect opportunity to take everyone out to share a great day together in the city.

Go on a team retreat.

After bringing everyone up to speed in their new job and new surroundings, it might be feasible to take everyone on a team retreat. Retreats are excellent opportunities to go deeper and explore just what makes a great team.

Clarity

If Trust is like concrete, clarity is like the cement in the concrete. Without clarity, it’s hard to make good decisions, people become dissatisfied, and trust erodes. But with it, trust solidifies and teams become super productive.

At first, have lots of meetings.

This may be counter intuitive, because meetings are often said to be a huge waste of time. And they are! But when you’ve got a brand new team that you’re trying to bring together, I believe you need to see each other a lot. You need to learn each other’s strengths, preferences, habits, before you can really start to click.

Maybe those meetings could be just 15-minute standup meetings where everyone just shares the status of their projects and ask questions. Or, you could think of team-building exercises that will help the team think deeply about how they work together. However you do it, in the first few weeks it is important to see each other often.

Write everything down.

This takes a lot of work for the leaders, but I think it can be helpful to write down a lot of the planned events, policies, or customs of your workplace so that new hires have the information to refer back to in the future. Here are a few examples of things you could write down and email or hand out to everyone:

  • A list of all the planned holidays, store closings, or other special events that will happen over the next six to twelve months.
  • The different ways in which your team communicates for work (phone, email, Slack, messenger, etc.), and what situations they are used for.
  • A list of things your team members need for work that might cost money, and suggestions on where to buy them (uniforms, certain shoes, technology, certain books, etc.).

Obviously, you won’t have time to write everything down, but it will make things easier when team members come to you with questions. Even if you need to make an exception, you make the exception with a better knowledge of why the policy was made in the first place.

I hope this has been helpful. What are some things you have learned while working on teams? Leave thoughts in the comments.

3 ingredients for turning defeat into victory

I’ve been a Falcons fan for as long as I can remember. When the Superbowls came each year, I’d always just pick the team with the best jerseys or the player that I liked the most; I never could find the will to really truly pull for a team from another city. And then this year came. This was the year. All the other teams (well, almost all) had had their time; this was going to be our time.

Then it happened. Defeat. It still hurts to talk about, and I’m just a fan. For the players, it must hurt on another level. It’s hard to go on — to get back into the game and try again. You just want time to stand still for a while, so you can just go hide and not have to face that situation again.

Put yourself in that situation.

We’ve all probably had a similar experience. Mine was at an old job. My boss called me into his office one day.

“Yeah… it’s not really working out for you here like we thought it would,” he said.

I can still remember going home and kind of curling up on the couch next to my wife and saying, “I don’t want to go back there.” I was defeated.

How did it turn out?

Two years later, I went into the same boss’s office to tell him I was leaving. He had given me three raises and a good deal more responsibility over the past two years. Things had changed. He sat back in his chair, took off his glasses, rubbed his eyes. He called his wife into the room (this was a small company).

“Are you¬†sure?” He said.

“We were thinking you’d be a candidate for long-term management.”¬†

“Sorry,” I said. “The decision has been made.”

How do you take a bad situation and turn it around?

Looking at that situation from my current perspective, I can see it as a growing experience. I can see the things I should have done in the beginning, and how I started to change things, and I can understand how I moved forward.¬†But when you are in the middle of those situations, it’s usually really, really hard to see how they can ever be changed.¬†

So here are a few things that I can see now, now that I have been able to put some distance between myself and that experience.

This too shall pass.

I can remember sitting on that couch, feeling worthless. I didn’t want to go back to that office, see those people again, because I didn’t see how I would ever get out from under the failures of that day. But the truth was that that situation would eventually be but a distant memory — a minuscule¬†drop of the vast sea of experiences of life.

As it was, I went back into work the next day, and I kept on trying, even though I didn’t really understand why. This understanding would’ve given me more motivation.

You can come back from anything.

I believe in redemption; I believe in reconciliation. I believe in it in all circumstances, in relationships, in work, in play. The first thing that is necessary in¬†coming back and seeking redemption is to admit one’s failures. If you can admit to yourself, and to other relevant people, that you failed and you want to make things right, you can come back from any situation, and emerge stronger than before.

Only a few things truly matter.

There are only a few things that are of ultimate importance and you have to decide what those things are. The placement of one’s desk, a nice expense account, the office pecking order, a company car, social status in the workplace — these are things that people spend lots of money on, and lose a lot of sleep over, but ultimately, at the end of one’s life, won’t matter a whole lot. When you have that perspective on your circumstances, it brings a lot of clarity to the question of what to do next.

So what do you do next?

Remember that all circumstances will eventually come to an end.  If you lose sleep, lose sleep over the things that truly matter, and let everything else sort itself out. And make a decision that you can come back from anything. That is how you can turn defeat into success.

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Labels are killing us, and we’ve got to stop it.

In order to understand this post, you’ve got to understand a little about lost causes.

I struggled with the title of this post, until I remembered my earlier thoughts about the idea of lost causes. The events of the past few days have caused people to say things — on social media, on national television, and on radio, no less — that should not be said.¬†People have¬†stooped to namecalling and labelling in a way that I have not seen in the public discourse in my lifetime. And it needs to stop — on all¬†sides, it needs to stop.

You are addicted to your narrative.

The Lost Cause Narrative is an accepted story, resulting from disputed version of events supported by an individual or by a group, that is not universally accepted by other neighboring individuals or groups, which later comes to define the behavior of that individual or group.

The narrative is an addiction, an obsession, that we usually dismiss as a grudge. The thing about grudges is that they come to define our life, and they enable the discourse — or lack thereof — that we have been privy to in the past several days.

Lost causes don’t do damage — it’s the resulting narrative that destroys people.

In order to catch the idea, you’ve got to catch the distinction between the¬†lost cause¬†and the¬†narrative.¬†The lost cause is not in itself bad. I’ve championed innumerable lost causes in my career. Operational changes, training programs, advertising schemes — you name it. They may have all been perfectly good ideas, but when taken to the¬†discussion table, for whatever reason they weren’t adopted.

The narrative comes later, when resentment is allowed to breed, fester, and create a story — an alternate narrative — that comes to define our behavior in subsequent interactions with opposing¬†parties.

In this¬†narrative, the discussion has never ended, and it becomes¬†part of a larger story — one where the opposing parties are not just in opposition to my idea, but they are in some way a threat to my existence. They opposed my idea, not out of rational disagreement, but out of a deeper plot to damage my reputation¬†or effectiveness, and prevent me from being successful. In this narrative, success becomes a¬†zero sum game, where their¬†success necessitates my failure, and vice versa.

The narrative necessitates a label. And labels kill.

The only way to operate within a lost cause narrative is by virtue of labels. People who don’t see the value of an¬†idea must be labeled “stupid”, “selfish”, or worse.¬†We’ve all heard it in the past few days on the radio, on social media, and on television. Our detractors detract, not because they have conscientious objections, but because they are actually ___.

Labels are good in an actual war. The enemy is labeled “enemy”, and that’s the end of it — we try to kill them. But as our world becomes more and more connected,¬†it behooves us to not think¬†of all our rhetorical, economic, and political disagreements¬†as wars. Our adversaries are real people, with real lives that continue¬†on long after the dispute has ended. When we choose to live within narratives that lend apocalyptic qualities to¬†our disputes, we reduce the chances of real engagement and peaceful existence in the aftermath to near zero.¬†

Labelling¬†cheats you — not them.

Labelling others in the midst of a dispute cuts off our ability to relate to them. It assigns them to a box, inside of which, they are no longer significant as a rational, independent entity. They are now “stupid”, or “awful”, or worse — ignorant¬†and unenlightened.

The problem with that is that it’s not true.¬†People with whom you disagree are, nonetheless, still people. And who is to say that you are more informed? When you place a label, what you’ve actually done is cut yourself off from¬†the possibility of engagement and persuasion. You’ve ensured that person will not come to see things from your point of view — because nobody is convinced of anything if they are not first engaged as a rational actor.¬†

Understanding enables us to have the life we were meant to have.

We were not meant to label our everyday adversaries. Children engage in such activities — and parents do their best to¬†help bring children into the word of adults, where complex situations require people to make hard decisions. People who disagree with us are not bad.¬†They are not bad, and they deserve our time, consideration, and respect.

If we are to ever get time, consideration, and respect from others, we must first be givers, and not takers.

 

God makes no mistakes: Abigail Fisher

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. – Psalm 139:16

This story was recently featured on the Bosnian web portal klix.ba. I came across it the other day, and couldn’t help but click, read, and research the story a bit in the American media. Here’s a link to the Klix version of the story (Bosnian language). This is my take on it, as a father of three.

Abigail Lynn Fisher was born on January 11, 2016, with a rare disorder called Treacher Collins syndrome. In the months leading up to Abigail’s birth, her mother, Kristina, was single and “practically homeless” — short on money and unprepared for the challenges of raising a child. So she went to an adoption agency and found a couple from Georgia who was looking to adopt. No one yet knew of Abigail’s condition.

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It doesn’t matter whom you vote for: Earthly leaders and the heavenly leader

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. – John 10:11

  

Scripture refers to people as sheep over 400 times. Why?

Sheep are hopelessly dumb; there is no other way to describe them. Unlike dogs or cats, they will wander and lose their way. Even when they are found, they may not follow their shepherd unless they are scared into doing so by a dog. At times, the shepherd must catch them, tie them up, and carry them back to their pasture. They will wander without direction, oblivious of their circumstances, until they starve and die, or are killed by a predator. 

And yet this is one of scripture’s favorite word pictures for people. There are many implications. People are hopeless without a shepherd. People are oblivious of their surroundings. People are unaware of how they hurt themselves. 

But there is one more implication that is especially valuable in this time: there is but one Good Shepherd. All others will disappoint. No other shepherd has the heart of Jesus, who lays down his life for the edification of stupid, wayward animals. 

Inject that insight into the circumstances of today. The American people will soon choose a new President. This is the choosing of a new earthly shepherd, a new earthly leader. To the top of the heap have risen characters whose pasts are checkered, to put it kindly. 

No one in this field has clearly demonstrated a desire to lead the American people that does not also include an obvious desire for their own profit and gain.  Maybe this is something we all instinctively know, but it is worth noting.

There is no perfect candidate, because there never will be one. The only leader who ever led from a truly selfless motivation already came, 2,000 years ago. And if we think that we can find a similar leader today, then we are sadly mistaken. 

If this is true, then, in fulfilling our civic duty we would all do good to recognize that all leaders are broken in some way. While we must still debate the differences between the candidates and discern the best choice for ourselves, it is helpful to be mindful that we are ultimately still comparing one broken person to another. None is perfect, and there is not one choice that is more “spiritual” than another. We are free to choose. 

However, while we are free to chose, we are not to judge the spirituality of another voter based on their choice for an elected office. It doesn’t make sense to assume that a person’s opinion of one broken candidate is indicative of their standing with God. All are broken, and all are capable of good things only through the grace that God gives. 

Lastly, it is good to step back from this whole process and recognize our own brokenness. We are all sheep, in need of a Good Shepherd. 

A sheep’s problem isn’t that it acts sometimes like a sheep, overeating in its own pasture and wandering off too far — its problem is that it is a sheep, and from that it will never escape without the guidance of a shepherd. And unless we recognize that we are the same, we deceive ourselves. 

The World Is Not Against You [Things I’ve Learned This Year]

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Many go through life with the distinct feeling that the world is against them. Some even voice this mantra — some version of “Everything is against me!”  — when things don’t go according to plan.

When I get cut off in traffic, I get cut off because the world is against me.

When my spouse disagrees with me, it is because everyone is out to get me.

When my computer breaks down, it is because nothing will ever work for me.

If I were a betting man, I would wager that virtually everyone has felt this way at some point in life; some make it into their personal life philosophy. It’s an understandable position — no life is free of pitfalls and frustrations.

There is a problem with this worldview: it is false. This way of looking at the world presents us with a picture of the world that is focused on us, individually. The problem with that is that, besides myself there are about 7 billion other people in the world. When one considers those numbers, it becomes fairly obvious that the vast majority of the things that happen in the world have nothing to do with me, including the things that happen to me. 

Let’s unpack that idea for a minute. If I get cut off in traffic, I can react in anger. When I do so, I can do so believing subconsciously that (1) such things happen only to me, that (2) these things will always happen to me, and even that (3) the events on the road are somehow orchestrated to make my journey more difficult.

But there are problems with that mindset. First, such things happen to everyone. And second, though we may believe that we will always get cut off in traffic when we drive, this is highly unrealistic and unlikely. Relative to the experiences of all other drivers on the road, it is highly, highly unlikely that we get cut off more than anyone else on the road. Finally, it is impossible that any events on any road are orchestrated.

What does this mean? This means that, even when I do personally get cut off on the road, it is most likely that the event has absolutely nothing to do with me. There is no conspiracy, no vendetta. Nobody is out to get me.

These events only have something to do with me when I choose how to react.

This is the drug of choice.

I believe we easily become addicted to such narratives. On the surface it sounds like torment: the belief that the world is out to get me. However, just like a drug, this mindset is deceptive. It gives one a sense of superiority and victimhood at the same time, and to some degree it sets one apart from the rest of the world. People don’t understand me, we say, because if they did they would realize that the world is actually against me. Things will always go wrong for me. Nothing will ever work. 

While it does seem sad — and, make no mistake, it is — it offers one a strange method of escape from responsibility. This is because, if the world is out to get me, then my life is not my fault. My failures are not attributable to me. 

The only escape is community.

There is a solution to all this nonsense, but it isn’t easy. Here it is…

HONESTY.

The enemy is isolation, because as isolated people we have no chance to counterbalance the craziness inside our own heads. If we believe that the world is against us, then we have almost no hope of changing our outlook by ourselves. The reason is, if we believe something, we are highly unlikely to tell ourselves to start believing the opposite of what we currently believe. That’s the opposite of believing something. 

When I share these awkward, unproductive beliefs with people I can trust, my unproductive beliefs are dispelled, and I am able to get back on the path to productivity. This takes some time and courage, but the results are worth it.

Imagine, knowing and believing that the world doesn’t revolve around you. Imagine knowing that when your car breaks down, it’s not because of some cosmic plot against your life. When your computer breaks down, it’s not because you have a hex on yourself that causes any electronics to quit working for you. You can take hold of your own life, free from the belief that things will inevitably go awry.

And, you will be able to go forward, perhaps most importantly, with an improved attitude and an improved sense that people around you are able to help you through even the most difficult of times.

It’s NOT just a trip! Choosing to believe you CAN take a vacation with your family.

This is a response to this article that got so many likes and shares on social media. Parents were posting this article left and right. “We just went on a TRIP!” As I’ve said before, it is easy to point out mistakes and make complaints; it’s hard to actually solve problems.

 

team Trousdale
 
My family just returned from a fairly significant family vacation. We went to  a beach village about an hour from where we live. There’s nothing to do there except go to the beach with your family, which is precisely the reason we chose the place. Our whole family went — me, my wife, and our three kids (6 years, 3 years, and 3 months old).

Whether we had spent the day on the rocky beach in the village, or on the sandy beach about half a mile away, our children told us each day was the most fun day ever. We ordered pizza every night from the local pizza restaurant, and spent our evenings watching the water from the balcony of our rented apartment. Our family needed this, and I hope we can make it a yearly tradition.

Your family has a culture.

I have written a fair amount on culture and communities in this blog. I believe every family has a family “culture”.  Some families ignore it, others are unaware of it, but it exists regardless of members’ ambivalence. And the culture of the family unit is incredibly influential.

Culture is a set of traditions, beliefs, and obligations that gives a group of people meaning and purpose. It’s the things that bind a group together and make it “stick”. Vacations and trips are part of the ingredients of the family culture because they create shared memories. On every vacation, there are things that are done together, which the entire group remembers together, and every member plays a role. Groups that have few shared memories have trouble establishing a good culture; shared memories make a group more important to its members.

Creating a good culture is your job as a parent.

First, let me say that I get it. Changing dirty diapers gets old. Wiping crusty noses and bottoms is not fun. And, when all of this is multiplied over 2 or 3 (or more) children, it’s easy to wonder if you’ll ever do anything else. Spending the days cleaning up messes and cooking dinners takes a toll on your attitude. It makes us dissatisfied, crabby, and unhappy.

Vacations can’t solve all of a family’s problems. But they can be part of the solution. They can break up monotony and infuse some positivity back into the culture of the family. If they are done right, they can keep us from breaking down and being so dissatisfied. And let’s face it — nobody wants to live with crabby, dissatisfied people.

Making fun of the antidote doesn’t help anybody.

In spite of the claim made in the article’s title, it was not helpful. It’s easy to make fun of stuff. I can make fun of our vacation right now. But making fun of it would discount all the progress that was made in those 5 days. And I don’t believe it does any good to tell parents that their only discretionary trip of the year with their family was not a vacation. 

Choose your own adventure.

Ok, maybe the M.Blazoned article was helpful, albeit indirectly: by describing situations where families are driving for hours, waiting in lines, and battling bad attitudes, it implies that a lot of us parents might be putting our kids in situations where they can’t succeed. Think about it: if you go to Sea World, you’re asking your whole family to walk around all day in the hot sun together, wait in long lines, sit and watch presentations, and not get lost, all while you fork out lots of money. Many adults fail to have a good attitude in such situations. So why do we expect our children to behave any differently than they do?

Less can be more.

I personally wonder about the benefit of investing lots of money and time to take young children to visit attractions that they won’t remember. I realize that we want to do cool things, but it’s just something to think about: when it comes to choosing what attractions to visit on vacation, are we choosing the things that will allow us the best chance at having good, refreshing quality time with our loved ones? Is going to a theme park a good way to play with your kids? Maybe it is. But maybe — just maybe — we’d find that if we were content to do less, we’d end up with a lot more. 

So what do we actually need to do?

I don’t know what you need to do, but I know what I did. Here are a few things that we did this year.

1. Minimize travel time.

Nobody wants to be in the car with small kids for hours and hours. So don’t do it. I know how it goes — you think about all the options and instinctively want to go to the best beach, the best theme park, etc. But kids are not likely to appreciate the extra time spent in transit. And, if you are able to have fun together at a closer location, no one is going to asking, “why didn’t we drive further?” So, try to stay close.  

2. Go where there’s nothing to do. 

This point is ironic — if you’re going to Sea World, Busch Gardens, or Disney-anything, you’re in danger of turning your vacation into a trip, and a not very good one at that. Don’t do it! You will probably not have that much fun! And you will not create the shared memories you want to have. 

It will be hot, and you will stand in line for an eternity with your 6-year-old. Is that how you want to spend your “vacation”?

3. Keep some of your normal schedule.

Make the  kids take naps. Oh, make them take naps. MAKE THEM TAKE NAPS! 

You need a break in the middle of the day, and they do too. If they usually take naps in the afternoon, don’t discontinue this habit. They won’t be agreeable in a strange location if they are constantly tired. 

4. Have fun with your family. 

We did drive by one town, on our way down the coast, that had everything you could want to do — tennis courts, movie theatre, shops, restaurants, etc. Meanwhile, the place where we ended up didn’t even have an ATM! I realize that such a place might not be for everyone, but it is worthwhile to consider whether the range of activities you do is giving you more or less time to actually have fun with your family.

That’s about it. Go out there and make your next trip into a family vacation. 

You Must Define Your Culture Because It Will Define You

 
 Today I am once again a vagabond, traveling alone by bus to Sarajevo to get my car out of the shop where I left it several days ago. As I ride alone through the Bosnian countryside — alone with 40 other people I’ve never met — I am surrounded by and constantly reminded of something for which most people of my background have very little vocabulary: culture

Culture can be defined as a set of shared traditions, customs, and obligations that gives a group purpose and meaning. There is a song that is collectively sung by the people of this land, and it echoes from every red tile rooftop, every kafana, and every bombed out building. It unifies them, and it tells every member of this country where they are going and from whence they came. It is construed so that no one from here will ever forget the past, guaranteeing that the future will be reminiscent of what they already know. 

Culture is all around you. 
Perhaps you made the connection that I could have just been describing a family, a high school graduating class, or a group of coworkers. Though they don’t have an entire country at their disposal, every group of people has a culture. Sometimes the group culture is so weak that it is inconsequential to its members — each member may also be a member of several other, stronger groups that exercise more influence over them. But every kind of group you can name can be thought of in the framework of culture. 

Every family has a family culture — some of us run from it, some of us run to it. Family culture is especially influential; it governs when the members go to bed at night and when they get up in the morning. It sets our expectations for marriage and family life when we become adults. Just like all these people here in Bosnia, most of us will never forget. 

Every work group has a culture. It comes with an attitude toward authority, and a system of rewards for compliance. It clashes often with that family culture we go home to each night, and culture wars ensue. Anyone with a full-time job can imagine the problems that arise when a spouse fails to appreciate the work culture that demands so much from their husband or wife. Or, when the family culture is made subservient to the culture of work. 

I work with a team here in Mostar, and we are just beginning our existence together. We all moved here in February, and before then, there was no one in the city from our organization. I can’t remember when it occurred to me, but at some point I had the distinct realization that the most important thing about leading a group of coworkers is establishing a culture that works for the members of the group. Most of us read articles about companies that have a great culture on the job; few of us get to live it out at work. 

I had the opportunity to participate in leading my group of coworkers through an entire year, a few years ago. It is not an experience I would like to repeat. I was less enlightened then, and many of the experiences of that year gave me first-hand knowledge of how not to establish a good working culture. And I’ll never be allowed to forget that year. 

I was unaware of what I was doing, and though action and inaction, I helped establish a working culture. As many cultures are, it was full of unwritten rules and ambiguous expectations. There were unjust assumptions, unfixable problems, and scapegoats. There were no festivals, for sure — there was little to celebrate. Celebration and friendships felt contrived and filled with unvoiced frustration. 

It wasn’t all terrible. But it wasn’t at all what we wanted. In our failure to define a productive culture, one was defined for us, and we were all defined by it, unable to escape it, struggling to forget it. Because I failed to appreciate my incredibly influential role in that group, I was bound to things I didn’t realize existed, and our growth and influence was stunted. It wasn’t all bad — some parts were even good — but it wasn’t what it could have been. 

And I will not forget — I will not be defined in that way, never again. Not ever, never

So as we sat together the other day and began to talk about our hopes and dreams for the future, I brought up the idea of culture and explained it the best I knew how. I knew that this was no time for empty promises or pledges. I had been down that road before. That was a journey I would never forget and hoped to not repeat. 

Don’t make promises. 

Promises and covenants about working relationships rarely work in creating a life-giving culture because they do not describe anything that currently exists and therefore offer the parties involved nothing to defend. Promises and covenants usually say something like this:

I promise to always respect the boundaries of my coworkers, to strive to finish my assignments on time, to treat others in the way I would like to be treated, et cetera…

The problem isn’t that we are saying bad things, but that we are answering the wrong questions. Such promises fail to take into account the habits and customs and assumptions that already exist, and there is inequal value placed on them by the participants. A father of three might see his missed deadline as inconsequential, while a young single, driven staff member is up in arms. Assumptions are made. Conclusions are drawn. People are judged. 

It is better at the start to define those things that are already true and accepted by all the team members. Defining that which is true gives participants something to defend and appreciate. Documents that cannot be defended should not be made — they will only make people upset, and they will not define a culture that makes people want to come to work every day. They will be forgotten, and a culture will be defined by default. 

It may seem that I am overreacting to my past experience, but I believe this type of nonconformity is something I can’t emphasize enough. Do not check off the boxes in leading a group — any group. Don’t do it as a father, a project manager, a boss, or a team leader. Do not create documents that you don’t need to create, just because someone else tells you that they are good things to have. Do not say things you don’t need to say. 

As you lead, do the things you have to do. Do the things you must do. State that which is true, and then defend the truth with every ounce of energy you have in you. 

As a father, a leader, a boss, or whatever position you find yourself in, do not say, “I will always.” You won’t. And don’t say, “I will never,” because you will. Instead, say those things which you know that you do. Right now. 

And if those things you do now need to be changed somehow, then you must make the decision to change them. But don’t tell people you will change things that you have not decided you are ready to change. Though you’ve said good things, you are sowing a culture of ambiguity, stagnation, and unmet expectations. I will not judge you for it — we have all been told we need to say good things. But it is ultimately better to resist, than to succumb and give birth to disappointment and ill will that we cannot control. 

However, if there are any good things that you do now — and I know that there are — then you must defend those things with every ounce of vigilance in your soul. Go to war for these things and don’t let them be pried from your grasp. Live for these things — live and die for them. Let them define you. Let them be the words of the song that echoes from every corner of your life. 

And let those things be the things that define a culture that you will never want to forget.