I’m not sure if it was the crisp air slapping against my face or the rush of adrenaline, but during a recent game of flag football, I learned to appreciate something: I’ve been lucky to have a great group of friends who are also my co-workers.
The way that we rely on each other as teammates in a game – acting as a unit, trusting, supporting and looking out for each other – informs how we interact in life and at work. I hadn’t really put much thought into that connection before; I’ve simply enjoyed all of the activities, conversations and laughs we’ve had over the years. But as I analyze my post-college career, I can attribute much of my professional growth and success to these “teammates” I’ve met along the way. Every time they’ve talked me through a design rut, given me that much needed distraction, brightened my mood on a dreary Monday or compelled me to laugh until I had tears streaming down my face, they’ve kept me on track for success.
Would all of the great ideas I’ve had been possible without this sympathetic and supportive atmosphere? I’m not so sure. Hearing other’s thoughts, experiences and points of view have allowed me to travel where I’ve never been, see the world through another’s eyes and connect emotionally through their experiences.
So I think it’s time to adjust our perspective: instead of focusing on “what” your team will be for your next project, focus on “who” your teammates will be and what you can learn from them (and they from you). Use this new outlook to break new ground at your next brainstorm – nothing brings out the extrovert in all of us quite like the ease of friendship. Joking around and bantering frees us to let our guard down, take more risks, and develop real life bonds. And once you’ve solidified these bonds, take note of the “inspiration on the fly” atmosphere you’ve created.
We’re all subject to the daily grind and can easily lose sight of how we are influenced by those around us. But it’s important to remember that before becoming a “co-worker,” we are people with interests, hobbies and lives outside of the office. Breaking the ice to learn about who we are, rather than what we are hired to do, can create an invaluable bond with others and open doors to new solutions and possibilities. So take it outside the office. Take the time to discover that these are people you can lean on, depend on and trust – just as you would a friend or teammate on your sports team – to maximize personal growth and project potential.
The support and camaraderie of my teammates have not only made me a better person, designer and director, but have helped create a work environment that feels like so much more than a place to fulfill client needs. It feels like a place I can truly be myself… it feels like home.