For a team of people to succeed at anything together, they must have common goals and a common value system. This is true whether they are a family, a sports team, or a business team. Common goals and a common value system provide the direction and drive for getting somewhere, and without them, we go round in lethargic square circles. When a team’s ability to work well together is altered, or we as individuals feel off course or depleted, it’s generally symptomatic of the same thing – a disconnection from the parts of what you’re doing that feed your soul.
Ethereal? Perhaps. Essential? Absolutely.
Pilots are highly trained with a deep base of technical knowledge, yet we’re still very aware that aviation is a passion industry. We’re fed by the constant challenge that the variables of each day and each flight present, and the opportunity to rise to those challenges. We look out the window during each and every flight and think “This is my office” as we survey the splendour we’re surrounded by. Something in the combination feeds us, and we are diminished by its absence when we can’t have it.
Understanding what drives us as individuals – what we’re fed by – is imperative to knowing where our drive comes from and how to keep it alive. When we go through periods of time or experiences that drain our energy, it’s our personal responsibility to replenish that energy by connecting with the things that drive us – the moments in what we do that give us joy and satisfaction. The moments that link us to our deeper values and reasons. This reasoning is very personal and, whether we realise it or not, determines how we make decisions on a daily basis. When we are activated, we seek to orient ourselves by its satisfaction in everything we do. When we’re deactivated, de-energised, detached and stuck – our systems have essentially powered down until we figure out how to reconnect to our deeper drive and values – our “Why”.
My “Why” is because I believe that people who understand and trust each other produce powerful outcomes. What makes people individual, how they bring what they do to the team, and how they can step further into their strengths, fulfilment and joy has always fascinated me. It did when those people were the other crew in the same cockpit as me. It did when they were my corporate passengers. It does now with my friends and family, and it’s what drives me to do the work I do with business teams. I derive a huge amount of satisfaction from watching teammates “see” each other better and differently, arriving at new understanding of how they can work together and what they’re aiming at. Renewed energy, communication and contribution channelled towards redefined direction and goals is a powerful stream of elevating goodness.
What powers us as a team is just as important to know as what powers us individually. Without acknowledging our common ground, we can all spin our wheels in isolation and in different directions which is a monumental waste of energy. It’s not enough to know what your direction needs to be if you don’t have the power to get there. A team must be able to identify and tap into their common power source – their common value system and reasons for doing what they do. These are the things that tie them together, that are important to them, that replenish them. These commonalities are the source of their agreement about how to work together.
Aviation has done a monstrous amount of work over the last 40-odd years to consistently redetermine how best to streamline this energy. We know it has much to do with communication. We, perhaps subconsciously, realise it has to do with a shared culture in our workplace too. We know the price to pay for getting it wrong is high. We take personal responsibility for making sure we are activated and fully available for our duties. We know we have a responsibility to each other to admit when we haven’t made that mark and are a less-than-fully-activated crew member today.
What we’re not so great at is redefining the source of our satisfaction outside of the cockpit when we can’t fly – and the world is currently full of pilots who can’t fly in the way that they’ve normally been able to.
Now that 2021 has got moving, the world is also full of people who are using their energy to move forward. Some are energised. Some were energised. Some are feeling “scattered” even within themselves, and some are feeling completely sapped of any inspiration. Regardless of your industry, your location, your situation or your team – it is imperative that we do a “systems check” every now and again and refocus ourselves on the things we deem truly important. Our raison d’être (reason for living), the things we value highest, the things that allow us to feel joy and fulfilment. The things that drive us.
Identifying these things is more a feeling than a thought. It’s doing the work to figure out what you can spend hours doing and come away feeling energised. What sparks your energy, and conversely what drains it? Sometimes it’s easier for us to recognise what doesn’t work for us and then flip it. Who do you enjoy being around? What are the moments that give you satisfaction and joy? They can be small. But they are powerful. And seeking them helps us reconnect with the source of our energy and drive.
It’s our personal responsibility to replenish our energy and drive. It’s our personal responsibility to establish what feeds those things so that we can find appropriate substitutes if one or other channel isn’t available (like flying an aircraft). It’s our personal responsibility to encourage the communication within our teams that allow us to determine where our common values and goals lie – so that we can create space for everyone to work together in their own strengths and drive forward with combined energy.
by Christen Killick
April 19th, 2021