This is a photo of my younger daughter and her two friends doing DofE Gold – not a walk in the park! (well, it is) They were on Day 3 of a four-day trek (minimum 20km per day, 17kg rucksacks on their backs) and they had some impressive blisters. I texted my daughter, “Do you think you can do all 4 days?” and she replied “Yes, because I’m with these guys.”
I was thinking back to the times I’d been spurred on by my colleagues, when I really wanted to quit – or at least not make the deadline we’d been set. There’s a sort of inertia that sets in: everyone just ploughs on thinking, “We’re not going to make this, we’re not going to make this” and then you get closer to the deadline and think, “Maybe we can make this.” Inertia is probably the wrong word – you race with your blinkers on, head down, you grab food, coffee, you sleep the minimum, work long days. About halfway through, you realise you’re really tired, but keep going. Of course, the military know all about this – it’s ALL about doing it for your mates, your team, your squad. If not for the officers, the ‘brass’, the country, the nation, the patriotism – then you do it for the unit/team/regiment. Or at least so that you don’t have to scrub the parade ground with toothbrushes, right?
I haven’t been in the military but I have worked with NATO as a civilian, and watched enough Behind-the-Scenes TV programmes to know that the Sargeant Majors plan the training to bond the team together as a unit so they’ll push themselves for their mates, and untimately save each other’s lives.
My daughter and her friends did a similar thing on the Duke of Edinburgh expedition, on a smaller scale. They may have had to bed down in damp sleeping bags, cook on a camping stove under an umbrella, make camp in a field with nothing but a tap (luxury!) and choose different corners of the field to poo in (TMI) – but no-one wanted to quit and let the others down, and so long as they had each other to chat with, they were OK.
In business, different members of a team bring different skills to the table and we need to rely on the others to do THEIR bit. At different times too, different members have dips in their mood, resilience and serenity. Then whoever is feeling OK at that moment can boost the others up. I had a wobble on a job recently – which is very unlike me. I had a slight stressy-hissy fit, not getting at anyone else but just panicking that we weren’t going to be where we needed to be on time. A very calm (at that moment) team-member talked me down and… on we went (made the deadline, crisis over). He, at other times, definitely had slight diva-ish moments! So we all helped each other through the job – which was several weeks long. I had said at the start, “We’re all going to have meltdowns at different times, so just be aware that the peaks and troughs will come and go, and we all have to make allowances for each other.”
Nutshell: we got through it and produced a really good piece of work. Plus we bonded! And the adrenaline is part of the reason we do that type of work – it’s challenging and exciting! Plus it makes that celebratory pint/bar of chocolate so much more well-deserved.