This blog is part of a series on Sequoia’s values. This segment is from our Chief Growth Officer, Leon LaBrecque.
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
Teamwork is a popular buzzword these days both in business and leadership circles. As with most fashionable phrases, their high and noble ideas can be watered down so far as to lose their potency, like a soda full of melting ice. The powerful becomes powerless, the piquant, flavorless, and the compelling, inert.
Our conception of teamwork has grown myopic. Our fascination with fairness has led us to a pitiful and reductive view of the strength of the team. Far beyond cooperation that leads to reciprocation lies a selflessness born from the idea that the sum really is greater than its parts. The metaphor of the rowing scull lends itself to the conclusion that all the team members must row precisely the same way, with the same cadence and with the same strength. The truth of our human experience is far more complex. The unity of a team lies not in their sameness but in a diversity of strengths and their unique contribution. The rowing metaphor holds only so long as the symbolism of uniformity refers to direction and commitment. There will be many times when not every teammate can execute a task with the same level of precision and skill. At those moments, our most significant contribution will be selflessness, a willingness to step out of the way so that the team will succeed. It's a subjugation of our ego to serve the greater purpose.
Often, our relationships are analyzed in terms of equality, of reciprocity. I’ve been told that great relationships are 50-50. I’d like to propose that great relationships are like the market, constantly in flux, fluid. Greatness is found by those who are willing to go beyond the ordinary, beyond the expected.
Take the story of brothers Brent and Kyle Pease. Kyle is an overcomer, meeting the intense physical challenge of Cerebral Palsy with grit and determination. His older brother Brent has been his staunchest supporter. From the time they were children, Brent has fought for Kyle to be included. He found creative solutions to allow Kyle to participate in the games active kids play. Brent’s commitment to Kyle has not wavered. (See their inspiring story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQEKl3Hu2iA)
After seeing Brent compete in his first triathlon, Kyle made his dream of being an athlete known. Brent once again stepped up to the plate. They’d been a team all their lives, making Kyle’s dream a reality became Brent’s goal. They ordered some specialized equipment and began training.
Together, they entered an Ironman triathlon in 2013. Just to be clear, that’s 140.6 miles of swimming, biking and running. It took them more than 15 hours to finish, but they finished. Anyone who competes and finishes an Ironman race deserves respect, but a man who finishes while pushing, pulling and towing another man for the sole purpose of helping to make that man’s dream a reality is worthy of twice the honor. This is what it means to be a team. It’s moving beyond the perfunctory to the exceptional. It’s placing the goals of the team above the clamor of our own ambition, drowning our ego in selflessness.
Teamwork is one of Sequoia’s corporate values. We are striving to be a team built on synergy, not separation. We win together, each member giving their best toward our combined goal. This value drives the way we support and serve our clients and one another. In real collaboration, the individual’s desire to stand out recedes; it no longer matters who gets the credit, it matters that we’ve done the right thing.
As for Brent and Kyle, they continue to compete, because Brent’s commitment to Kyle doesn’t have an expiration date. Their love for one another is inspirational. Let’s be like Brent.
For more information on this topic, contact Leon LaBrecque.
330.255.2124 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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