Your team’s gotta have heart
No individual can win a game by himself
Every once in a while, just going through life, we have a chance to witness greatness. And, as Valentine’s Day approaches, with lots of talk about love and loved ones filling the air (and the airwaves), it occurred to me that this holiday is just perfect for reminding us about project leadership. And I learned all of this, not by watching Dr. Phil or some chick flick, but standing in front of a big box home improvement store – the perfect setting for all mason contractors to absorb and learn life’s lessons, right?
So there I was, standing in front of that store, halfway hoping to see Tony Stewart come driving into the parking lot, when I was startled back into reality. A friend of mine, Paul, walked up to me and said, “Hi.” In tow, was his son, Philip.
Now, a hardware store might seem to some of us like the perfect place for a dad to take his son or daughter. But it’s different for Paul and Philip, and here’s why: I’ve known Paul and his wife for about 20 years, since just about the time that Philip was a baby, born with autism. As Philip has grown, so have the challenges to Paul and his family. But they have learned extreme patience and persistence, along with the grace to appreciate what they have, and a way to accomplish this with more real love than you’ll ever find on a greeting card for Valentine’s Day.
On that clear, December, Sunday afternoon, a dad and his son were out for a stroll, wonderfully oblivious to the reactions from store customers as they observed the somewhat-different-than-expected actions and sounds from Philip. The customers all were respectful, but let me just say that Philip is difficult to completely ignore. We talked for awhile, and then, after a hug from Paul and a high-five from Philip, we parted. I watched the two of them walk away. Paul had begun singing a Christmas carol, encouraging Philip to sing along. (Philip did not sing, but, then, neither did I, nor did the other puzzled bystanders.) Fabulous. What a huge, early Christmas present I received.
But…here is “the rest of the story.” None of the other witnesses that Sunday afternoon could have known it, but Paul has two other children. One is a young, special needs little girl, adopted into their family. The other is another son, a senior at West Point, graduating this spring and heading for Army aviation and flight school.
Paul’s family is a model for what is right with our country as well as a great model for our businesses. In a nutshell, it’s all about pushing very hard toward a goal, never relenting, always expecting, yet doing everything with patience and – in Paul’s case – with love. When we lose patience, we often lose focus. And, when we lose focus, it might just cost us some money, especially out on the jobsite. How do we avoid doing all of that bad stuff? We rely on teamwork.
You need to be a part of a team, this year more than ever. Let’s look a moment at Paul’s “team,” because he didn’t succeed these last 20 years all by himself. He had the help of a wife and kids, of course, but he also had other experts in his life, from counselors and teachers, to his faith, family, friends and even some organizations. Here’s the lesson: They availed themselves of that help. Don’t miss this point!
What about help for you? Who is looking out for you and your family, employees and business? Who’s on your team? Let’s begin by looking right here in the pages of this website. All kinds of help is here, from the Mason Contractors Association of America and to the advertisers in Masonry Magazine itself. All of them offer help and special skills. Also, don’t forget all about your local chambers of commerce, community organizations like Kiwanis and Rotary, your church, schools and colleges. Sometimes, even the government actually can help.
For Paul, as well as for families and groups dealing with autism and other disabling conditions like it, realize that, often, things didn’t look all that great. They didn’t see success. They lacked hope. Things looked dark, troubling and desperate. But they were lifted up by their teammates, who reminded them that it was possible to get through almost anything. His family knew that their teammates already had done it, so it was modeled for them. Paul’s family began to believe. Impossible situations often do become possible, when attacked with the help of others, the wisdom of those who have gone down that road before. Sometimes, it’s just prayer, and lots of it. But for most of them, it was way more than just wishin’ and hopin’. It required a plan, and a team to execute it.
For 2012, you need a goal – a vision. There is an old saying, “Without a vision, the people perish.” Paul’s vision was all about taking care of his family, and making things possible for them. He relied upon a team in order to make that happen. Another famous old saying I love reminds us of the essence of TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More.
What’s the outlook for your company – growth, survival or extinction? Coach Gary’s guess is that your vision is for survival right now, followed by growth and prosperity. You cannot stand still. Take a clue from Paul and his family, and get your team together. If the road looks dark to you, your teammates can help light the way. When you think things have never been scarier, remember Paul, his family and his team. And remember a dad and a kid in a hardware store, enjoying life – a team with a heart, achieving greatness – just like yours.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
About the Author
Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at FullContactTeam@gmail.com.