Have you heard the old adage, “There is no ‘I’ in team?” Well, we beg to differ. Most people equate the “I” to themselves, but we equate it to influence. Rotary International has a slogan: Service Above Self. We agree with the sentiment, partially, because you cannot serve to the best of your ability without first being your best self.
We believe that the best way to influence your team is to first be the best you can be for yourself. To accomplish this in today’s technologically driven world, you need to understand yourself and the influence the outside world has on you.
The most common piece of advice we give to people on a daily basis is to slow down.
Today, we do things at a pace that is inherently fast. We almost exclusively communicate via email, text message, and social media; all of which have accustomed us to receiving answers more rapidly. Hasty replies tamper with our ability to think through emotion, meaning that our replies are often emotional and not always indicative of our overall intended reply. Technology has pushed us to move quickly, where we multi-task and navigate through our day at the same break-neck speed we communicate in.
The demands our world has on us to respond and move quickly creates a work culture where negative emotion, anxiety, and mistakes dominate. Beyond this, we also see a lack of attention to details and a tendency to not focus on the benefits of stability, growth, and personal and organizational success.
If you slow down and focus your mind, you will find that you perform faster. Giving one hundred percent of your brain’s power to a task will help you complete it quickly and with more accuracy than if you are dividing your brain’s power. You may be wondering, “How do I slow down?” The first step is to recognize the areas of your life where you may be forgetful, backtrack, or completely lose track. In those areas, try to create a pause that will help you reflect on the current situation; tell yourself repeatedly to stay in the present.
You will see improvements quickly and find that you are more aware and more efficient. Benefiting from the act of slowing down will take time, but if your goal is to influence your team, you need to objectively view yourself with patience, purpose, and an open mind.
Ego goes beyond instinctual actions. Ego is purely human, and it can be positive or negative. Ego is your sense of identity, and it can help or hinder you. Ego influences your personality, action, communication, and perception.
Do you consider yourself to be the best at what you do? Do you rely on this sentiment to bolster your self-worth? Or, do you use this as a means to empower and create a sense of belonging for others? When we use ego for singular gain, it may make us feel good internally, but it degrades what we are using to make us feel good. It’s okay to pat yourself on the back and recognize your achievements, but never lose sight of who or what else contributes to that greatness.
Our advice regarding ego is to determine how ego plays a role in your life and where it may be helping or hindering you. Ego is not always good or bad; when ego is understood and kept in context of the present moment, you will begin to live more intentionally.
Self-reflection starts with being honest and humble with yourself. If you really want to grow, then you need to face your demons. How you control and react to things in your life that you are good at and that challenge you are equally important.
During the self-reflection process, you may not like what you discover; it may scare the living bejesus out of you. But if your goal is to be someone who you are not today, then you must go through the entire process of understanding who you are so you can be the person you want to be in the future. If you find that living one way and being another is exhausting or creating chaos in your life, begin with being honest about the contradictions you live with and identify which of those you feel comfortable with and which need to be rectified.
How to begin self-reflection may be a challenge; looking at your internal mirror can cause anxiety. Our advice for self-reflection is writing or documenting a life timeline. Creating a life timeline means documenting your life in a timeline-like fashion with events that occurred over your life and identifying where some of your quirks, anxieties, or temperaments were developed.
Questions you can ask yourself to aid in self-reflection
- Why am I friends with … ?
- Why do I live in … ?
- Why did I make the decision to … ?
- What motivates me to … ?
- Why am I influenced by … ?
These questions will undoubtedly create others. That’s why writing them down on a timeline can help you reach a conclusion to your original question.
Self-reflection will be the most intimate thing you will ever do. It may scare you. It may anger you. It will change you. Only you can control what you ask yourself. Regardless of who you are now, you will be different tomorrow. That difference, in the end, is controlled by you and those who influence you.
Improving yourself through slowing down and self-reflection will allow you to positively influence the people in your life that are part of your individual teams (work, family, friends, etc.). The most responsibility you have as a human being is your influence on others.
Dr. Brian Smith has a PhD in organizational psychology, a master’s degree in management information systems, a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt Consultant. Brian has been helping business owners and managers since 1988. His company, IA Business Advisors (a DBA of Individual Advantages), has helped over eighteen thousand clients since 1996. He is the author of the newly released book Individual Advantages: Find the “I” in Team.