It’s always been a central belief of mine that focusing on what draws us together is key to building a powerful team. As soon as you put two or more people together, each brings their viewpoint, perspective, beliefs, values, life experiences etc to the table. As primal beings, we’re programmed to look for threats, and therefore are quick to assess how others are different to us. This is a great source of division. To the degree that we can advance our thinking past this protective outlook and regard each other with curiosity rather than fear, we can look instead for what binds us together. Where do our commonalities lie? What values and beliefs do we have in common? What are our common goals? What are we prepared to stand for?
In these commonalities and overlaps lie our greatest strengths as a partnership, as a team, as a community, as a country.
I have founded my life choices and business on the belief that people who understand and trust each other produce powerful outcomes. We do not have to agree with each other. We do not have to be the same. If fact, it is imperative to the breadth of our perspective that we bring our diverse outlooks together. When we work to find our common ground rather than our differences, then we can understand and appreciate why we each operate the way we do. We can aim at common outcomes with trust that we intend the same things, no matter how we choose to get there. We can create powerful outcomes together, where others are mired in their division and differences.
It is for this reason that our most powerful and foundational conversations are always centered around that which binds us together. Whenever we are destabilised or uncertain, reminding ourselves what we agree on and believe in is a sure-fire way to create stability and somewhere to push off from again. THIS is why we discuss our values. THIS is why we determine core values for our partnerships, relationships, teams, businesses etc.
When I flew into Durban last Sunday evening and drove myself and my son to Hillcrest so that he could restart school on Wednesday, we had no idea what we were dropping into the middle of. All was calm on our way in. What transpired that night and since then has been destabilising in the deepest sense of the word.
There have been a few times in my Southern-African life when I’ve experienced events that cause people instant clarity on what is important to them – that which binds them together. In an instant, all the fog of less important concerns and differences dissipates, and people unite with a sense of purpose that is powerful in the extreme.
The courage of the communities around us who pulled together to very literally protect us all; of the school and its teaching staff who chose to continue with online lessons to provide our boys with some familiarity and connection; the humanity that prioritises right over wrong, connection over division and community over all else was and is incredible to watch. Alone, weathering such devastation is exhausting. Together, we find our way even in unprecedented times.
This kind of powerful connection and forward propulsion is available to all of us every day, when we choose to examine and prioritise that which binds us together. When we find our common ground, agree on what we’re prepared to fight for, and allow what matters less to fall away, we channel our energy with clarity and definition in a combined and powerful direction.
In my opinion, this is a position worth examining often. It is one worth claiming and protecting, refusing to allow it to become clouded by comfort zones. This kind of powerful unity shouldn’t be something that fades as we relax into complacency and division. It shouldn’t be something that is only brought into focus when we’re under fire.
Start a conversation this week with YOUR people. Discuss what each holds most dear. Find the overlaps. Celebrate them. Prioritise them. Allow them to create understanding, trust and powerful outcomes. Allow that common ground to fuel your drive and direction. Communicate it. Stand for it. Guard it, and don’t allow that clarity to fade.
by Christen Killick
July 19th, 2021