Think of a team sport that you like, or one that you’re at least familiar with. Whether it’s a football or doubles tennis, cheerleading or baseball, every team is reliant on its various members to fulfill different purposes.
I like to think of all of us humans as being made up by a roster of different teammates. And just like a team has members that serve different functions, we all have parts of us that play different roles.
And these distinctions are helpful – the same way that you wouldn’t put a kicker in to play o-line in American football, you may or may not want to “tap” in certain situations.
Getting to know these parts of us is one of the most effective ways to develop the resources to deal with tough and challenging situations. The ability to call upon a certain “part” of us can make us feel less alone, more equipped to navigate our paths forward, and ultimately be more successful when we have to take on the many roles life and work call upon us to.
The trick is getting to know them.
Getting to Know Yourself
Think of one thing that you are good at. Like, really good at. Maybe it’s painting or excel, maybe it’s cooking your favorite recipe or being really present with your child.
Not sure where to start? Here’s something that I’m really good at to help: When I’m traveling and encounter a tough, tense moment I get good. It’s like something switches on in me and I’m a different person who can do just about anything.
What’s an example of this kind of moment for me? When my friend didn’t keep her immigration papers and we were seconds from missing our flight home after running through multiple terminals in the airport both unable to communicate fully yet I was able to hold a shuttle bus a few minutes past their apparently strict departure times. Or when my phone died when I was driving in a foreign city alone seconds before I needed to make a choice about turning onto a bridge or into a tunnel and I needed to check GPS. Or when I realized I misread my flight time and realized I had less than an hour to somehow get across town and through security to get to my plane.
Travel mishaps happen. And when they do t’s like something comes over me. I get into this calm, steady, slow state. From there I make it happen.
Over the years I’ve gotten to know this part of me – this calm, steady, confident part of me that takes over when things go astray.
A while I started to think, “Man, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to bottle this part of me so I could bring her out whenever I wanted?!”
Good news, I can do just that. And so can you.
Nice to Meet You
When you meet someone new in life who you’re intrigued by or interested in learning more about, what do you do?
Ask questions, listen, observe. Rinse and repeat.
It’s the exact same concept for getting to know your own teammates.
This can be an exhaustive process (that I do with nearly every client I work with 1:1 and in small groups) but here are some starting points you can do on your own:
- What’s your role in my life?
- What’s the best thing about the role you play?
- What’s difficult for you?
- Where do you tend to show up?
- What makes you not show up in other areas?
- What do you want for me?
- What’s a name I can call you so that I can start to call upon you more in my life?
Ask your teammate these questions. For real, spend some time with them and ask them. You might journal the answers or imagine you’re sitting down side-by-side and listen to what they say.
Using Ourselves to Reach Our Goals
We’re all complex, beautiful, wonderful human people. We’re complicated and multifaceted and powerful. The way to harness all of this is to get to know ourselves better. This is a great step in doing so.
Let’s chat about getting to know your teammates better.
Oh and this is not just something I’ve made up. There is loads of neuroscience based research supporting this technique. Check out various other applications from this line of thinking one of my favorite thought leaders Shirzad Chamine, the creator of Positive Intelligence here.