7 Choices Necessary for Great Teams
Every day we must make seven choices with everyone, if we want great relationships. The consistency and intensity with which we commit to these choices will determine the depth and reliability of our relationships. This is true for all relationships: marriage, parenting, friendship, and work.
These are choices. No one can or will make you commit to the choices.
However, those who learn these choices and become more proficient in them will find themselves surrounded by healthy, productive, fulfilling relationships.
(At the outset of this article, I would like to give some credit to Tim Buttrey at truerelationships.org. Four of these choices were pointed out to me by Tim, and from those I have pursued further understanding and expansion of the thoughts he offered.)
I heard a “TED talk” about how certain postures, if they are taken for two minutes or longer, can increase testosterone and decrease cortisol. Testosterone is the hormone that makes us strong, cortisol is the hormone that adds stress. What interested me most, even though the speaker never addressed this fact, was that testosterone building postures are open and vulnerable, while cortisol building postures were closed and protective. Being vulnerable physically makes us stronger!
It may not seem all that revolutionary (none of these will), but for some reason as people we struggle to be open to pain. Many great teachers espouse the benefits of pain, and we have all heard “no pain no gain.” Still, we avoid it at all costs. Why? The only way to truly avoid pain is to die.
We get this, so we try to control pain. I will accept pain from certain sources and not others. Thus our relationships become inauthentic and unavailable to love. I cannot love or be loved unless I am willing to give something up, and the greatest love is found in giving everything up.
Healthy relationships require sacrifice.
Steven Covey said, “Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.”
This second choice starts in the “get to know you phase.” We become aware of a name and some basic facts about one another, but the frequency and the depth with which we pursue awareness is the depth to which intimacy will occur. This comes with cautions, of course, but we will talk more about those later.
If you want great relationships with others, you need to care enough to know what they need, what they want, and how they came to this moment in time. Too often we judge people without all the facts, and this causes breakdown in relationship. It is better to gain more knowledge and understanding before we start labeling with whom we will and won’t seek positive relationships.
Awareness is also the first step in repairing broken relationships. As we surrender our time and effort to understand someone else, we open the door for bonding and growth.
The next two choices go hand in hand, but I will discuss that more in the next choice.
For now, realize that creating a feeling of safety and well-being allows for relationship to strengthen. If we are constantly being hurt or hurting someone else, the relationship will be crippled from the start. We must make efforts to increase the feeling of safety.
We can do this by being aware of each other’s weak points, past hurts, and current struggles. When we understand each other more deeply, we have the choice to be careful with one another or to abuse one another. For us to continue the path of increased vulnerability we must protect the vulnerability we already see.
(See how this works. One choice affects all the others.)
The level of safety we experience in any relationship is directly proportional to the level of honesty in that relationship. This makes loving honesty extremely important. The more we communicate about what we need, feel, and want, the better we can meet each other’s needs.
If someone is communicating with us regularly and openly we begin to feel the level of trust grow. If we hurt someone and they come share honestly and are willing to hear from us honestly, the level of trust grows.
Sometimes honesty hurts, but it is still good.
No one likes to hear when they have messed up, and few of us respond well to criticism. However, as we think back over our life, those who gave us loving criticism in life helped us grow the strongest and are probably most respected by us.
When we choose to be honest, we increase the feeling of safety and deepen relationship.
Here the pieces begin to truly fit together. The reason relationships are hard is because we are not perfect. Even the perfect one, Jesus, is often misunderstood. If we desire great relationships and great teams, we must be able to forgive and ask for forgiveness.
Without forgiveness our hurts will only multiply, and relationships disintegrate.
When someone hurts us, our immediate reaction is to protect ourselves. Expectations are not met, so we assume the worst from the one who did not meet our expectations. So, we begin to tell ourselves half-truths or falsehoods about that person's character. We don’t feel safe, so we stop listening for their needs. Finally, we close ourselves off because we think this is the way to stay safe.
But Christ shows us the true path to restored life and relationship is to start over with choosing to be vulnerable enough to give the offender the chance to hurt us again. In this way we open ourselves to understand why someone did what they did. Oftentimes we discover a cause that we can fix. When it is not a cause we can fix, at least we understand a way to avoid offense.
I have often said, “People can be offensive, but it is up to you to take offense.”
You can choose the path to restoration which is forgiveness or let the relationship dissolve.
This step is the step that many will not understand. We think integrity is having a good moral compass, but integrity is being the same person all the time. It is choosing to do the right thing because it is the right thing, no matter the consequences.
Sometimes integrity seems to break relationships. True integrity only protects relationships. Doing the right thing may hurt, and may even cause someone else hurt, but in the end trying to do the right thing is to love, and love is never wrong.
Integrity accomplishes two things:
First, integrity helps minimize hurt. When we do make others upset because we choose integrity, they are usually upset because of their own lack of integrity. Giving in to someone else’s lack may look less dangerous up front, but in the end will only cause more hurt than doing the right thing from the start.
Second, integrity is the boundary-maker. Boundaries protect us. I said earlier, “The frequency and the depth with which we pursue awareness is the depth to which intimacy will occur.” Integrity provides the cautions. Every relationship will not and should not attain the same level of intimacy. Men should only pursue complete intimacy with their wife and God; women with their husband and God; if you are single, only with God unless and not until your marital status changes. So much hurt has been perpetrated on the earth due to people not letting integrity set protective boundaries: divorce, children born out of wedlock, abortion, broken families, and the list goes on.
We need to let integrity guide our steps in relationships, so that we can be healthy in all of them.
I have written a full work on the power and need of submission to live in love, freedom, and influence. (Check it our here.)
In this article let me simply say this,
“Submission is the one choice in life that allows all men everywhere to live at peace.”
Some think this is a strong statement, but I believe the power of submission to be above all others.
Submission is the choice that undergirds all the other six choices. Submission is putting my desires, will, dreams, and passions under the authority of another. Soldiers submit to officers, knights submit to kings, slaves submit to masters, etc.
But if submission is a choice, it must be more than just actions. In all the above examples submission can be forced. This is true of action, but not heart. When I am truly submitted to someone else, their needs come first. I give myself to the pursuit of fulfilling their desires.
We must understand that most people think there are as many desires as there are people on the planet; truly, there are only two: To be valued and to be secure. God made us this way. In the core of our being these two desires affect all our choices. If we spend our time trying to fulfill this core need in each other we are submitting.
When I choose integrity and it makes someone upset with me, I do so because a life of integrity is the only way to truly honor one another and offer peace. When I forgive or ask for forgiveness, it is because I honor the other person and want peace. When I am honest, offer safety, seek awareness, or make myself vulnerable, these are all choices of submission.
If we want to make our teams, our organizations, our communities and even our families, as strong as they can be we need to make these 7 choices every day.