Our Stories Reveal Identity
Here is another excerpt from The Shift from Me to Team, which will be published this year.
MY REQUEST OF YOU: We would appreciate your feedback. Please share what you like and what could be improved.
Each of us is on a unique journey through the jungle of life. As we face and overcome challenges, as we interact with and observe others, we have feelings about our experiences. Some felt good, others did not. This is how our unique identity is developed, through our sense of what feels right and what feels wrong.
Our challenge is to take time to identify and contemplate the meaning of these foundational stories, thereby better understanding who we are. As we gain a deeper appreciation of our struggles, our triumphs, and our gifts we see that our stories reveal the person we are today and shed light on the journey to becoming the person we are meant to be.
An organization’s journey is the synthesis of the team members’ journeys in service of the organization. It is not the logo, the building, or even the product. For organizations who choose to embark on the Me to Team journey, storytelling reveals their natural greatness. It’s through storytelling that the organization’s greatness will then be understood, reinforced, and honored.
As Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
Stories on My Journey
To aid in your own self-discovery, I’d like to share a few stories that have shaped me and helped reveal who I am. These stories reinforce the values, gifts, and learnings that are most important to me. They have become steppingstones for my journey to becoming my best self. These stories, and new stories I experience, help guide, energize, and support me on my journey to help leaders and teams become their best selves.
When I was young, my father’s job with Scott Paper Company meant we moved a lot. As a salesman he was on the road during the week, but it was all about family on weekends. We were either at the ball fields together or working around the house and the yard. We spent our weekends together as a family.
My dad had high expectations for himself. He had an inspirational work ethic and he cared about every detail. Whether it was a work presentation, mowing our yard, or volunteering with the recreational leagues in Covina, California, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, or Darien, Connecticut, he took on tasks big and small, and each outcome was a masterpiece.
When my brother, Steve, sisters Jane and Lisa, and I came of age, we all played team sports, with Dad coaching our teams. It was important to him that all of us in our neighborhood played on well-prepared fields and received high quality coaching. He made sure he provided both for us and the community.
Dad’s teams always competed for the league championship. He was tough on us because he saw more in us than we saw in ourselves. He had a way of getting us to play at a higher level than we had ever experienced.
My dad led with the Guiding Principles of integrity and caring, and his commitment was especially apparent in the championship game at the end of one season. According to his rules, if you made all the practices and prepared with a positive attitude, you played in the next game. At the top of the ninth inning, we were behind by one run. The bases were loaded, and we had two outs. Keeping his commitment, Dad put in the one player who had not been in the game yet. To the player’s credit, he took the pitcher to a full count—three balls and two strikes—before striking out and ending the game; we lost the championship. We were all disappointed, but every one of us knew we played the game the way it was meant to be played, with integrity, and caring. We eventually got over the hurt of losing, but the importance of integrity and caring resonated.
The message stuck: Success is a process; it is not one game.