When my daughter Kate was in high school, her part time job was working as an extra on shows such as Neighbours, Blue Heelers and other great Aussie productions. Because of this I have a tendency to cast my eyes to these seemingly insignificant others in the background on the big and little screen.
I also did this as I watched the Olympic Games recently: I noticed the medal carriers as they proudly walked to the podium with their platters of gold, silver and bronze medals. I noticed the referees, judges, security staff, umpires, floor managers – all the staff in the background to the chaos and order that was this amazing event. …All those extras out there contributing to the greater Olympic good.
Teamwork as a strength is all about excelling as a member of a group. It’s also about loyalty, dedication, and sharing and caring for the betterment of the team and its outcome. If you feel alive, vital and gratified by working in a team, then bingo! Teamwork is probably one of your top strengths.
Teamwork as a strength is also about citizenship, duty and loyalty. Fine, strong words, aren’t they? Martin Seligman, in Authentic Happiness, says: ‘This strength [Teamwork] is not mindless and automatic obedience, but at the same time, I do want to include respect for authority, an unfashionable strength that many parents wish to see their children develop.’
It’s an interesting distinction. Being a good citizen is not about conformity, but about respect for rules, regulations and being aware of the community you live in, and how best to work and operate within that community. The same applies to team.
Professionally, I haven’t been much of a team-player, given the solitary nature of my writerly work. Just recently, however, this has changed. Yep, I’ve joined a team! And no, it’s not a sporting team, but a team of positive psychology implementers, who are working and studying together for the next nine months.
There are six of us on my team: five of whom live on the east cost of USA, and me, the only Australian. We meet fortnightly via a conference call, and communicate and support each other via email in other times. This small working group is part of a larger team of 180. Technology has allowed us the privilege of all working and studying together, with participants far and wide from countries such as Israel, Switzerland, Argentina, Spain, Cuba, America and of course, Australia.
As team members – both in the small working groups and the larger team – we care about the betterment of the group as a whole, we are respectful and loyal to one another, and we are dedicated to our studies, our professions, and our purpose.
It’s good to be part of a team, after operating solo for so long. All of a sudden the world seems smaller and more connected; I don’t feel like I’m fighting an unwinnable uphill battle all by myself, and I have a bunch of like-minded people all on the same page.
If I google-zoom out into space and look down upon Earth, and look really, really closely, I’ll see lots of little ant-like teams, burrowing away at life, rowing together, carrying platters of medals, cleaning toilets, emptying dishwashers.
And if I look more closely still, I am reminded that we are all extras in the movies that are our lives. We are teams within teams, within teams, within teams…