I was having a drink with my co-workers from the Summit program when Sean and I stumbled upon a double epiphany. Summit is a joint program between the county and the school district that provides individual therapy, group skills work, and academic support for high school students who are suicidal and self-harming. There were four of us on the team. To say the job was taxing would be a gross understatement. These were twenty of the highest risk students in the county for suicide. As tough as it was, I absolutely loved that job, mostly because of the team of people I was working with. I can say without hesitation that the Summit team was the best team experience I’ve ever been a part of. We didn’t just do good work, we loved those kids, and we loved each other. I’ll probably spend the rest of my life trying to replicate what I experienced with those three.
What Sean and I realized that day as we were reflecting on our team dynamic was this: No individual will ever be able to accomplish what a functional team can do, especially for any length of time. One person can do some heroic things, but a team can pull off what would kill a normal man, day in and day out.
The second half of our double epiphany was the mind-bending part: a good team is only as strong as the level of self-care of each individual involved. As we looked back on our time together, we realized that whenever our team dynamic had broken down in any way, the cause could ultimately be traced back to one or more of us falling behind in taking care of ourselves outside of the workplace. Whenever one of us would become exhausted or push themselves too far past their limits, the team would suffer. This seems especially ironic, because the usual expectation is that the members of a team prove their worth or contribution by what they are willing to sacrifice for the team. I have a ton more to say on all this, but for now, let me ask you a question:
Wouldn’t you prefer to be part of a team that not only accomplishes a great work, but sees to it that each individual member is being taken care of and living a balanced and healthy life?