As the global economy, sharing economy, and web 3.0 take shape, a common thread has emerged: the ability to operate in a vacuum and accomplish amazing things by one’s self is becoming less and less likely. Teams are driving change at a rapid pace, and teams are built on relationships. With each passing day, I believe relationships matter more and more because without successful relationships, teams cannot come close to reaching their potential.
I learned deeply about why relationships matter at age 23 and I learned the hard way. I learned about relationships at Army Ranger School. While this Forbes article shows how teams in business can relate to sports (http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/05/teams-teamwork-individuals-leadership-managing-collaboration.html), I found pockets of the military hold even more accurate analogies to the teams I now work on in business.
In the mountain phase of Ranger School, located in the frigid landscape of Dahlonega, Georgia, my body began to fail. Bone chilling night time temperatures and around thirty minutes of sleep spread over the course of three days drained the little strength I had left from prior phases of the course. One day, the pain in my legs and shoulders reached a new, unbearable level while climbing a seemingly unending mountain. Some extra radios and gear created a load of around 130 pounds in my rucksack. On a few occasions, I felt as if the huge backpack was going to flip me backwards and down the hillside. I was so exhausted; I would have welcomed the fall just to alleviate the pain.
When the climb was finally over and the rucksack was off my back, I could barely move, and I still needed to fulfill my mission planning responsibilities for the next day. I had worked side-by-side with my dear friend and Ranger Buddy, Ryan, for several weeks and he could see the pain in my eyes. Ryan asked about my remaining duties, told me to get rest, and shouldered my mission planning responsibilities. I probably slept for only thirty minutes, but that half hour felt like eternity. When I woke up, I felt reborn. Later in the mission, I helped Ryan in the same manner, and together we accomplished many times what neither could have done individually, succeeding in missions and graduating from Ranger School. Were it not for that incredible bond of a Ranger buddy relationship, I would not have graduated and would not be where I am today.
Later in my Army experiences, and in the private sector, my greatest accomplishments occurred not during fits of solitary effort, but rather, as a result of the relationships I fostered over time and the collective results of the teams on which I served.
Years after Ranger School was over, relationships mattered again when I was looking at a job post-military. Despite the valuable leadership and managerial experiences from the Army and Ranger school, no company where I lived was knocking on the door to offer me a job. Instead, relationships created options. I reached out to a friend who worked at a company I admired, and after a long series of interviews, I landed a position at an exciting electric car company called Tesla Motors. Not only did my friend help me get the position, but he took me under his wing and taught me more than I ever expected to learn about corporate finance, tooling, automotive supply chain, and cost reduction strategies.
Working at a company built on data around human connections, I have been in a unique position to watch some of the recent changes in how these trends affect today’s knowledge workers. Even with all of the most complete and real-time data on the planet, I doubt we will change the world. However, with authentic human relationships, with teams built from this foundation, I think we can.
Each individual human has amazing capabilities, yet I am convinced teams - teams driven by relationships - will solve the problems of the 21st century. Do you think relationships are becoming more valuable?
About the author:
Ben Faw is a guest contributor to Lifeguides, and a prior contributor to CNN, Business Insider, Military.com, and several other publishers on issues ranging from business school to military members transition into the private sector.
Follow Ben on Twitter: @btfaw
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