With a Little Help From My Friends

We’re told from a young age, “There is no ‘I’ in team.” Why, then, does our society glorify a select few for the success of an entire team?

In our society, where idolized professional athletes work as a team to defeat their opponents, why is it we only focus on a few of the team members as the reason for their success? What does it teach us about how we should expect to achieve success? How much more can we achieve with teammates who believe in our dreams? What does it really take to achieve true success and how does it help us for more happiness.

We’re told from a young age, “There is no ‘I’ in team.” Why, then, does our society glorify a select few for the success of an entire team? Professional athletes are role models for many younger generations. By ignoring the fact all of the star players would be nothing without their teams, we teach the youth success is purely driven by our own hard work. These star athletes would never have risen to the level of success they’ve achieved without the support of everyone on their team, all working towards the same goal.

While individual hard work is a big contributor to whether you’ll be successful in life, it is absolutely not as important as understanding how to work with others for a greater goal. If we teach our younger generations they can achieve great things without help from anyone, we’re setting them up for failure. If these role models don’t have the humility and humbleness to realize their own limitations, they teach future generations to be less humble. Anyone who thinks they can get through life completely independent of anyone else’s help is sadly mistaken and, even worse, anyone who is comfortable taking full credit for a victory which was achieved through teamwork is a poor excuse for a role model.

As a social animal, humans thrive when we are in a collaborative environment. Individually, we are able to achieve some incredible things but we will always be limited by our own ideas and abilities. It is only through collaboration we can begin to achieve something greater than ourselves. In my last post, “Why the Status Quo is Making You Unhappy” I mentioned a book by Simon Sinek called, “Start With Why“. He discusses this concept and how if you look at any successful company, you see multiple types of people working together for a greater goal. Each person has their own part to play and none of it could have happened without collaboration between different personality types.

Simon Sinek breaks these types of people in “why people” vs. “how and what people”. Some of our greatest leaders have been “why people” and we need them to give purpose to a movement, an organization, a community effort. However, without the “how and what people” the purpose has no momentum behind it. The dreamers have wonderful ideas behind their purpose but without a team to help determine how and what they need to do to accomplish it, they simply remain dreams. This ideology can be implemented towards anything we do in life, including how we find our own happiness. Strength truly is in numbers and having a really solid group to rely on helps everyone involved live their happiest lives.

Collaboration doesn’t only allow us greater success. It can lead to longer, healthier lives. Results from one of the longest-running experiments have shown when people have relationships they trust in and can rely on, they live longer, healthier lives. The current director of the study, Robert Waldinger, talks about the experiment in his Ted Talk, found here. I think it’s important to note these relationships aren’t ones where the partners don’t argue, they aren’t the picture-perfect relationships we see on social media– they are the relationships where both parts have full trust in their other half to be there when times are tough and things aren’t pretty. We have to know relationships aren’t always awesome. They come with tons of baggage, personal struggles, silly arguments, but they should never leave you wondering if your partner is going to be there or not. The relationships which lead to the most happiness and longevity are built on dependability and the promise to work together to achieve any goals this life brings.

Our species thrives where we have community, healthy relationships, and collaboration. We are all headed towards the same ending–we need to embrace our community, we need to make time for friends, we need to connect with the people around us. We can do great things on our own, but they pale in comparison to what we can achieve together. Once we realize we need others, the struggles (which are going to happen) become less intense, the bad days are less bad, and the happiness of a long life is easier to find.

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A version of this post was previously published on gofindyourhappy.net and is republished here with permission from the author.

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