Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.
“I built this business from the ground up, all on my own.”
“We came together as a team and made the business successful.”
What sounds more impressive to you? Probably the first quote. Which one is actually accurate? Definitely the second. We have a habit of respecting the face of businesses and groups more than the people that actually make them successful. Who gets more attention: the lead singer of a band, or the songwriter? But without both, it’s unlikely the band would be popular. The difference is that a face is something we can see. It’s tangible and we can relate to it. So that gets the respect and the attention.
Leaders and the faces that represent success deserve respect. Many argue that their skills are more unique, and should be valued more. These skills should absolutely be valued. But valuing them more means that it becomes very easy to value the rest of the team less. It feels like your contributions as a team member are smaller than those of the leader. That quickly leads to the feeling that you weren’t a reason for the success. And it’s easy for people to treat you that way.
In reality, nobody gets anywhere on their own. Even the most genius inventor or successful CEO relies on other people. Typically, the more successful they are, the more people they rely on. They may have the vision, or idea. They could be incredible at motivating and inspiring others. But they still need help to bring that vision or idea into reality. They need people on the ground; marketing, accounting, and others to get the word out. They need the infrastructure of roads and electricity built by thousands of people. They need the manufacturing techniques and facilities to build their products. They need your help. Every team member is just as integral to the success as the leader. And without the team, the leader cannot accomplish much.
Returning to Ryunosuke Satoro’s quote: every person, regardless of capability, can be thought of as a drop of water. Great leaders may be more effective at motivating other drops of water to fill their glass. But they need those drops to fill it. They rely on them every step of the way. So next time you think of where you spend your time and what you choose to support, realize that you are a critical piece of that success. It is easy to think of your piece as replaceable, but because you are there another person can work on another piece. You are enabling the cause to grow.
As a leader, never forget the people that are helping you get where you want to go. You may be providing pay and benefits and even fulfillment, but it is dangerous to assume that means they are not important. Even in a small group setting, by taking care of those few in your charge, you make the group stronger and therefore your cause stronger. They will want to help; and not feel obligated to help.
With enough drops, a glass turns into an ocean. Songs can top charts. One toy can make millions. Movements can turn into reality. Wars can be stopped. Your cause could simply be making the company you work for successful. It could be an attempt to update the way the government operates. That part is up to you.
For an additional perspective, Derek Sivers gave an excellent talk on how although starting a movement requires an idea, it more importantly requires the support of others. Watch it here.
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