L.I.S.T.E.N.—T is for Teamwork
“A leader expresses genuine interest in and is curious about
others’ hopes, dreams, and visions for the organization and
for the personal lives of those they lead. Acknowledge what they say.
Respond positively to their needs and desires, to their ideas.
They will trust you, begin to express their thoughts, and respect you more and more.”
Every week, for the next six weeks, we are sharing one of Someone To Tell It To’s values, one for each letter in the acronym L. I. S. T. E. N. These are values that we do our very best to model for and share with others. We believe these values hold the power to brighten our lives and to bring hope and reassurance in healing and helpful ways.
Today’s value is the letter T: Teamwork.
We build relationships, communicate well and often, and create partnerships that are mutually beneficial
- We do this individually and collectively
- We are empathetic, gracious, and listen more than we speak
- We are honest and share openly and give and receive feedback sensitively and respectfully
- We practice what we teach by modeling our listening skills and concepts effectively and compassionately
- We are well-organized and prepared so that emergencies are not created for ourselves or for others
- We provide solutions to problems we encounter
- Everyone has ideas, and everyone’s ideas matter
- We actively work on implementing the ideas we propose
- We always try to make someone else’s job easier, less stressful, and more satisfying to accomplish
Often, it’s behind-the-scenes where the real work of building teamwork – trust, community, commitment – is done.
When we trust one another because we have shared values and experiences, community begins to be built. And when the community is cohesive in the best ways, there is commitment to the mission, to the cause.
Trust. Community. Commitment. It’s what we try our best to foster. When we do, that’s when the best teamwork emerges.
We think of two significant examples from this past December.
Nearer to the beginning of the month, Someone To Tell It To hosted a virtual game night with the creators of a listening game – Cozy, Juicy, Real. The game attracted people from across the United States and in other countries around the world. The creators, in fact, were living in Cyprus. Many members of our team joined in the game that evening. Participants were divided into groups of six or seven and asked to answer increasingly deeper questions as they moved around a board. The idea and aim of the game was to foster more vulnerable, open dialogues among the players. There were some fun questions – the Cozy ones. There were more serious questions to answer – the Juicy ones. And then there were very thoughtful, probing, vulnerable questions to respond to – the Real ones. Hence the name of the game. A large number of our team members were able to join that evening, and to a person, when we debriefed after the game was over, everyone had a lot of fun answering questions and listening to others answer theirs, sometimes much to their surprise.
Cozy. Juicy. Real. was a wonderful team builder for our Someone To Tell It To team. We got to know one another better. We learned things about each other – preferences, fears, experiences – that we may never have learned so quickly and painlessly before. It was a tremendous experience to share that led to greater trust, a stronger community, and a firmer commitment to our mission.
Teamwork is fostered in opportunities such as these. We were proud of our team for being “game” to play the game and open up in ways they may not have done with one another before. It was safe. It was fun. It was a joy.
That same month, later, a few days before Christmas, we held an in-person Christmas/holiday luncheon for any of the team members and partners or spouses who could come and be part of the gathering. We chose a nearby resort, nestled among tall trees, bordering a coveted fishing creek. The stone buildings of the resort were beautifully-appointed and a perfect setting for a holiday gathering.
Our executive team members were scheduled to meet earlier in the morning to take care of some business before the holiday break we urged everyone to take until the new year began. When we arrived at the resort, we were greeted by the resort staff to tell us that there was no electricity on the property. The entire surrounding area was without it.
It meant that there was no heat on a cold winter’s day, no lights under the cloudy, gray sky, and no easy way to prepare and cook the food for our luncheon.
But the resort owners promised to make good on their commitment to serving our team that day, if we chose to stay and still hold the event. So, we chose to stay.
And their promise was kept.
Somehow magically, in MacGyver TV-style inventiveness, they produced a warm breakfast for our executive team as we met for our final meeting of the year. They produced kerosene heaters to warm up very chilly spaces. They moved our full-team luncheon to an easier-to-heat building with a beautiful view and huge stone fireplace that was roaring with warmth when we entered the space. And they even somehow prepared a delicious and delightful holiday meal for us all – with turkey, roast beef, and salmon as choices for our entrees.
It was the most charming and festive holiday event we’ve ever experienced.
It was an adventure for our team. Everyone, when learning that the power was out when they arrived, was game for the change in plans. Everyone on the team embraced the circumstances and more than made the best of it. Even when anyone went to the toilet – in a windowless room, with no hot running water or heat whatsoever, and pitch black darkness. We had to use the lights on our cell phones to see in there. But no one complained. About any of it.
We all ate more than our fill and were invited by the resort staff to take home the plentiful leftovers. The staff continually checked on us to make certain we were warm enough and were comfortable in this makeshift space. We told stores, expressing gratitude for the year soon ending. We shared around the long table about our holiday plans and our hopes for the new year. We gathered around the fireplace to sing some Christmas carols. We made some decisions on directions to go in 2022, our 10th anniversary year.
We bonded even more than ever before as a team, which has served us well this year as COVID still affects all of our lives in some inconvenient ways and as challenges with growing pains, financial ups and downs, increasing demands for our listening services in a world marked by an ever-deepening emotional, relational, and mental health pandemic.
Teamwork. We have had many other moments and experiences that build our trust in one another, molding us into a more cohesive community of people dedicated to this evermore-needed mission, and deepening our commitment – to serving as luminaries and as impassioned servant leaders who are changing this often dark and dreary world for the better. The work of transforming lives is neither easy nor simple. It is complex and hard. But together, as a team, we work to show the world that listening is close to love, that we cannot tell the difference, as has been said. In fact, listening is the first sign of love that shows one another that we care.
We are proud of our team for embracing this first outreach of love. We are proud of how we strive to work together to help the entire world to listen.
As we wrote in the introduction to our first book, Someone To Tell It To: Sharing Life’s Journey:
Don’t we all need connections with others? Isn’t life about the relationships we create, the people we invite into our lives, and those who invite us into theirs? Yet most of our relationships have no significant depth, no intimacy. We are carried through life, and while we connect with others in countless ways, most of those ways are superficial. We barely pierce the surface of our being; we rarely reveal the real issues in our lives.
This is why the nonprofit we started, Someone To Tell It To, is so significant. It is a safe place for all of us to express our feelings, with the assurance that we can confidently give voice to all that is on our minds, in our hearts, and on our souls. It is a place where we will not be judged or condemned. Rather, it is a place where we will be given the freedom to share our burdens so we may begin to find relief from them. It is a place where we will be given the encouragement to seek light instead of darkness, forgiveness instead of bitterness, and affirmation instead of criticism and negativity. It is a place where we can find comfort, a means to joy, and a path toward healing and abiding peace.
We believe that everyone needs someone to tell it to and that everyone needs grace and a safe place to share. We believe that everyone has a story to tell and a need to be listened to, that everyone is worthy and has something to offer, that everyone hungers for authenticity, that everyone has a need to be who they were created to be, and that everyone is meant to live an abundant life.
Read more about our L.I.S.T.E.N. values in this series: