Find Safety in Numbers – Never Paddle Alone

May 6, 2014
From Your Job Survival GuideYou are responsible for your own safety, as you are responsible for your own security. That is the baseline. Flip the kayak, and most likely your paddle and your skill will bring you upright… or not. You cannot expect a superhero to swoop in and save the day. You provide your first and best line of defense.That being said, never paddle alone.

A team can substantially contribute to your safety and security. A group offers protection to the other members of the group. Sometimes that protection is advice to stop what you are doing, turn around, and go home.

Even if you work for yourself, you still need a network around you to succeed. In ensuring the safety of the other members of the team, you have to look to your own safety first. This reminds you to take care of yourself, as you help others to help themselves.

Members of ‘your team’, i.e., your fellow travelers on the river, will help you keep your own skills in order. They will help you to improve your skills simply by demonstrating their own. They can also provide benchmarks for your skill level and outright feedback, both of which will help you to diagnose and to address your own skill deficits in any number of areas: setting up teams and employing best practices for meetings, including which tools such as group software and videoconferencing to use. Your ‘teammates’ can help you attend to your communication and emotional intelligence skills and thereby help you to both better send and better receive amidst the din of the river and the demands of the day.

When joining or building teams for permanent whitewater, carefully review the rescue and survival skills of other potential teammates. A skilled, calm team member can render far more effective aid to someone stuck in a hole, than one who is struggling to keep afloat. Address your concerns about the required set of skills for the team and for individual members upfront…including for yourself. Model yourself what you want from others.

Finding safety in numbers requires that you assess your potential and actual teammates. Pick those individuals and teams with the best chance to succeed. Help them understand the demands of the journey and the skills required. Assist them in developing their skills either through your efforts or by connecting them with other resources. Similarly, learn what they have to teach you. Encourage everyone to have a developmental agenda for themselves and, if possible, for the group. Paradoxically, these individual WIIFM’s can help the team be a team so get them identified and lined up. Revisit the individual development agendas during your work together and by so doing normalize the process of skill development and staying current about one another’s skills.

In permanent whitewater, understand that you are your best asset and use the each trip to develop it…and your team.

Keep paddling. (For more on teams and finding safety in numbers, see Chapter 8 in Your Job Survival Guide.)