Do we tend to focus on weaknesses instead of strengths? Do we see differences as barriers?
Nature can be a unique matchmaker. Baboons and impalas may not seem to have much in common, or much to offer each other. But they are actually a perfect fit. Baboons are innately hyper alert and their vision and ability to climb trees for a better vantage point make them ideal “watchmen.” Impalas stir up bugs and insects as they graze, making it much easier for baboons to gather meals. They are frequently seen grazing together because each provides a vital service to the other.
Likewise, antelopes live with oxpeckers, tiny birds that shriek to warn the antelopes of danger, in exchange for being able to feed on the insect larvae that cluster on the antelope’s skin.
The sea-anemone rides on the back of the hermit crab, whose mobility brings food to the anemone while its stingers help protect the crab from predators.
Who would ever have thought that animals so different from one another could team up so effectively?
Like these animals, people have many differences. But unlike the animals described here, people often allow differences to separate them from others. We all have a tendency to prefer similarities in those we work with, and we would rather avoid those who are different from us. Too few of us have caught on to the natural synergistic potential of capitalizing on symbiotic differences. Many of us tend to condemn others for their weaknesses instead of appreciating their strengths. We reject them because they are different.
The antelope does not distrust the oxpecker, nor does the hermit crab resent carrying the full weight of the sea-anemone. The baboon does not criticize the impala for having poor vision. How often do we distrust people because they are different? Do we ever resent carrying the full weight of our boss, forgetting the benefits that come to us as a result? Do we tend to focus on differences as weaknesses instead of strengths?
Viewing these differences in a favorable light allows us to see significant untapped advantages for ourselves and others. When alliances develop, we call it teamwork. And in the organizations that have it, one plus one equals three...or even more!
Here are some points for reflection:
- No one possesses every skill or capability; we are all a blend of talents and weaknesses.
- Recognize in your associates the strengths that they bring to projects and assignments.
Consider how your own strengths can counter some of their deficiencies.
When selecting others to be on a team with you, choose those unlike yourself. A healthy blend of attributes and capabilities will bring balance to the team and lead to a more productive outcome.