Have you heard the phrase, “teamwork makes the dream work?” It can become trite when used repeatedly. Eventually, it is relegated to an expression which rarely encourages us to move forward.
However, it is true.
A team working toward a unified goal while keeping everyone accountable can do amazing things. Let’s look at an example from the animal kingdom. How much weight can a single “draft horse” pull? Answer: 8,000 pounds. How much weight can 2 “draft horses” pull? Answer: 24,000 pounds (source). That’s incredible!
Looking at the professional world. Many of the companies we admire didn’t start with a single individual. Even if one person receives more credit, really there was a team working together to hold each other accountable with a single vision.
Gates had Ballmer
Jobs had Woz
Buffet had Munger
Tom had Jerry
You get the point. One might be the larger than life “visionary,” in reality, both needed each an accountability partner. Some of the above relationships did not last, yet there was a time when each pushed the other to reach incredible levels of success. Together they could pull more weight than if they tried alone.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” ~ African Proverb
Below, we will discuss how accountability has pushed us to go farther than we could have imagined and how we are continuing to expand our team to reach new heights.
The Value of a Team
Yes, you can go very fast if you go by yourself. You can be a top-performer, maybe even a game-changer, all by yourself. But how big will your impact be?
How many lives can you have an impact on if you only work alone?
In the sports world, the gap between a valuable individual and a valuable team can be identified easily. The individual will get recognition, maybe even will win some awards. But the valuable team will win championships and will build a legacy.
The biggest names in sports, the hall of famers, are players that were exceptional as individuals but also made everyone around them better.
Do you just want to be an all-star? Or do you want to be a hall of famer?
I’ve learned this lesson the hard way because I used to focus only on me and improving my skills. The MBA journey has taught me that, even when most of us initially cringe when we hear the words “team project”, those are actually opportunities to improve.
It is thanks to the Your MBA Purpose team that we have all been able to keep each other accountable and accomplish results, such as being on the first page of Google, which would’ve been very difficult to achieve individually in such a short time.
Two of the most valuable things a great team will provide are accountability and focus. If you are a doer, you probably are constantly having ideas. You also have confidence in your ability to succeed at anything you decide to do. But this can make you jump from one thing to another, which will prevent you from building the much-needed momentum to accomplish big things.
There are many resources that we want to provide to you, to help you take your career to the next level and live a rich life. We are always discussing new ideas, such as webinars, podcasts, and mastermind events. Anytime we discuss ideas we always want to take it to action, this is where accountability and focus come into play.
Focus: We always push each other by asking questions.
- Is this new idea going to add more value than anything we are doing?
- Do we have the resources to execute it?
- Will it get us closer to our goals?
By doing this we don’t spread ourselves too thin. We focus on the 20% of activities that will produce 80% of results.
Accountability: Once we say yes, once we decide that we will take it to action, then we come up with a plan and set dates to make it happen.
This is how our vlogs started. I told Matt we should start doing some videos, to test it out and he immediately said, “That’s a great idea, when are we doing the first video?” No time was wasted.
Ideally, a team will let you and your ideas fly, this is how you achieve the “impossible”, but a team also needs to keep you grounded and focused.
We’ve reached a point where we operate like a well-oiled machine. We are cranking out valuable content every week, we are getting great feedback, we are having an impact on other people’s lives, and the most important thing is that we are having fun while doing so.
And now we were getting too comfortable. Which is is why we have decided to get uncomfortable and expand our team, we’ve decided to shake things up to have a bigger impact during 2017.
One of the most influential mentors in my life has preached the need for accountability to me for over a decade. He is correct. Alone, there is only so much we can do and we all fall into traps of laziness and poor decisions. There are times we make terrible choices, most frequently when we are alone.
Then something amazing happens as we join a team. We don’t want to let others down. I used to teach Cultural Anthropology at the University of Houston and my classes would examine group dynamics. Our species became the dominant life form through cooperation and accountability.
Most of us could never overpower a lion or large animal. We could not hold back a swarm of enemies. But as a team, those threats are neutralized. As a team, we can surround and coordinate attacks to feed one another and protect our group. We also notice who is trying to help and who isn’t. Humans rarely fault people who are less skilled, instead, we ostracize those who don’t try. These are the people who fall away from being accountable and attempt to do things on their own.
Think about it. Would you be more upset with a teammate who genuinely tried but failed or someone who said they would do something and never attempted the task?
“Tell me what you think of this story: A man had two sons. He went up to the first and said, ‘Son, go out for the day and work in the vineyard.’ “The son answered, ‘I don’t want to.’ Later on he thought better of it and went. “The father gave the same command to the second son. He answered, ‘Sure, glad to.’ But he never went. Which of the two sons did what the father asked?” ~ Matthew 21: 28-32 (Message)
We look for others who will be accountable and do what is asked for the betterment of the team. When you find those people, hold on to them. They will be your greatest allies.
If you are in a company, build a team who has a singular vision and will stay the course. You might be saying, “I am not in a position to build a team.” Fine, do what is asked of you by your superior to a level of excellence they have never seen. You will rise through the ranks quickly and be viewed as a leader.
The beauty of accountable teammates is that you can find them anywhere. They don’t have to specifically be at your job. Alejandro and I run a blog together, it is not a business or company. Instead, it is an avenue to provide value to others and a platform for us to grow as professionals. Writing together is allowing us to develop at a much faster pace than if we decided to go alone. Both of us are competitive and stay accountable which means we challenge each other to read, share movie/Ted Talk/podcast recommendations, and critique each other on various topics.
We are ready to take this accountability to a new level. Soon, Your MBA Purpose will be expanding with two other people who share a similar vision. In a few weeks, we will announce this partnership and are excited to help more people advance their careers.
You have to make an important decision!
Do you want to be remembered as a high-performer? Or do you want to be remembered as someone who had a big impact on other people’s lives?
There will be a lot of challenges when working in teams. Yet, the benefits outweigh the costs. It will be tough to adjust in the short-term, but it is a long-term investment.
Don’t be transactional, be transformational.
Accountability and laser focus are two of the most important things a team will provide. Appreciate the valuable pieces, instead of focusing on the obstacles. You may have to slow down a bit in the beginning, but you will go much further thanks to the team effort.
At Your MBA Purpose, we know this, which is why we are forming a new team. We are doing this because we want to be comfortable with uncomfortable to provide more value to you.
We keep taking small steps, which will create continuity. You can do the same.