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The "I" Team

"The I Team" By Alex Alexander (text & clipart)

The cliché, "there's no I in team" is so apropos because fundamentally, teams are formed only to uphold the greater good of a singular cause or doctrine, the all mighty "I", if you will. The "I", the boss, the leader, the visionary or what have you, would much rather remain the star of the show but knows that the greater their cause, the more hands needed in getting it off the ground. The "I" becomes a salesman for their vision, pitching their goals to the willingly attentive while using language that insists upon a false equality or commonality. Once enough soldiers are sold on this grandiose vision, the word team falls upon them like a security blanket of false hope. This is not always the case but let's just say I've been in a sales meeting or two in my day.

So upon this sales pitch, the soldiers have been chosen, uniforms are issued and this "team" is ready for war. Going to bat for a cause that only partially has their best interest in mind. The more diligent the team is, the more lax in action the "I" becomes. This starts a war among the team. Some members bear more weight than others. The "I" that brought them together is slowly destroying the moral of the "we"... This is usually where I check out.

Being the counterculturist that I am, I have never been one to follow blindly behind the dog who barks the loudest. It's far too great a gamble to have someone else's botched ideals and societal shortcomings be a catalyst for your enlightenment. Sooner or later you find yourself bearing the brunt of someone else's failures as all their wrong moves seem to have your name written all over them just for being a participant. People with no sense of self will sign their entire life away for all sorts of silly shit these days. Finding it easier to follow the most popular herd than to lay their own tracks as a leader.

I've never been a follower but I have been sold on a dream or two, most build upon the idea that teamwork makes the dream work, of course. However rare that formulas success actually is, I will always believe that there is truly power in numbers but, seldom are the correct numbers dialed in. On a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being inessential and 10 being indispensable, ideally you'd prefer a team consisting of mostly 8's, 9's and 10's with the occasional neutral 5 and the always room for improvement 6 and 7. Anything below this is a bad look, a total waste of time. But what if you find yourself to be a recruited 10+ among a team of lowly 4's and 5's? What becomes of the dynamic?

I have been whittled down to my most jaded self when dealing with a mediocre team. I have had my hard work and dwindling optimism pissed on by people who live by the quantity and not the quality of their investments. My name has been, at one point, associated with people that I wouldn't look twice at now simply because it costs me my peace to do so. Needless to say I take nothing lightly as I continue to build my brand. However, in the last six months, aside from my usual endeavors, I decided to join forces with a very specific group of people… again. This particular team consists of two or three key players, a few passionate yet aimless stragglers and the teams hopeful yet in over his head leader, the "I". We were all recruited because when our respective talents are strategically combined, we form the groundwork for a pretty spectacular and ultimately necessary artistic movement that not only benefits its players but the immediate community of which they serve.

Now the key word in that run-on sentence is "strategically". Since our mission isn't the most revolutionary in its standard, our approach and execution has to be stellar in order to surpass our past attempts. You can't just throw together a few good ideas with a few good artists, toss in spurts of applied talent while hurtling bouts of reckless ego and the occasional leech then expect them to come together under the direction of a scatterbrained "I" and move mountains with little to no worthwhile direction. Neither can you form a cohesive team out of desperation and the first eager yeses you receive because often you come across people who just need to belong and do so by promising the most then doing the very least. Be discerning with even your top picks. Some people dont want to be down for the cause, they just want the cause to brake down instead and sometimes a faulty "I" needs someone else to place failures blame upon.

Many times have I found myself at a standstill with the "I" in team. Counting our losses while trying to remain cordial at events and social gatherings. But only once have I tried my hand at being team leader. With all my ducks in order, I gave and continue to give that team my everything; a clear and concise plan of action with goals we have all agreed upon combined with plenty of positive reinforcement and steady guidance, hosting motivational checkpoints along the way. just a few surefire ways to keep a committed group moving in one direction with a positive outlook. -What was the problem you ask? The problem was, desperate and eager dont mix.

I initially recruited a team of lowlives eager to build and grow under my vision. They soon got closer than close and robbed me blind. But the point as the "I" in team is to not remain blind to foolish shit. So i regrouped and re-prioritized. Who and what doesn't break you makes you stronger. Expansion is inevitable if you are really about your hustle. The greater your vision grows, the greater your helping hands should be. Categorize people not by your expectations of them but by exactly who they have proven themselves to be. When dealing with people and their varying levels of competence, it is smart to keep your hopes high and your expectations low. Know that teammates come and go but the vision remains the same. What one person won't do, someone else will willingly. And it is ultimately best to acknowledge the "I" in team as well as a few other key roles just so no one gets confused and everyone gets held accountable. No group of like-minded people ever came together without the forethought of one or more parties who can already see the bigger picture ahead.

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