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The Goal Is More Important Than The Players

Originally posted: September 20, 2012 on TrishMcFarlane.com

*Special thanks to Kinetix for the post inspiration.  I loved reading The Alchemist (by Paulo Coelho).

“But all this happened for one basic reason: no matter how many detours and adjustments it made, the caravan moved toward the same compass point.  Once obstacles were overcome, it returned to it’s course, sighting on a star that indicated the location of the oasis.  When the people saw that star shining in the morning sky, they knew they were on the right course toward water, palm trees, shelter and other people”.

Reading this book I was struck by the very idea that the goal, in this case of the caravan, is more important that the individual players.  We tend to think that each person is so critical, so important that they cannot be lost.  In fact, when a goal is realistic and established, it should be one that can be achieved regardless of the players.

As you think back over your career, there were likely times when you were working with a team that was stable and unchanging.  The players were committed and focused on the goal of the department or organization.  You may even have memories of your colleagues all being team players who worked well together to accomplish the goal.  But then it all changed.

Someone voluntarily resigned.

Someone was terminated by management.

Someone transferred or was promoted to another department or unit.

And everything changed.  The goals seemed harder to reach or they completely changed when a new person joined the team.  The team dynamics were different and it caused stress and strife to the team.

This scenario plays out in real workplaces all the time.  It was as I was reading The Alchemist that I realized that it is at these very times of change that we remind ourselves and others that the goal should not change.  The loss or addition of a team member, while challenging, should not alter the end result, the “shining star”, that the team was originally moving toward.  In fact, the most successful teams are able to quickly course-correct when presented with any change or barrier so that the new person or ideas can be incorporated.

Have you seen this happen?  Have you been on a team that went through change and became hung up and could not reach the goal?  How did the team resolve it and break through the barrier?


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