Getting along with people has been the secret of great leaders throughout history. Lincoln was famous for surrounding himself with men that started out as rivals, and became committed friends. I believe that there are three keys to working with people.
First, and least important, is a common goal. It’s the thing that brings individuals together, the incentive that makes them want to be a team. In some cases, it’s noble, like winning a war, in others it may be for a common profit. Either way, it’s the binder, the starting point, the mutual thread.
Second is patience. To be blunt, for you to get anywhere in life, you’ll need to learn this most annoying of attributes. It’s helped by the first element, but it has to go beyond that. The Scripture says that tribulation produces patience. I’m here to tell you, any great team, will have it’s share of both.
A combat unit isn’t a team until they’ve went to battle together. A sales force is just a group of employees, until they’ve met the first quota together. Lincoln’s cabinet argued less as the smoke of battle lingered.
Patience reminds you, you need each other. In order to have one another, it requires give and take. Some days, you’ll take more than you give, but don’t worry, they’ll take more from you than you will realize.
Anger will say, walk out, but patience will whisper, there’s a sniper on the other side of the door. The fact is, you can’t get where you need to go alone. If Abraham Lincoln realized he needed opponents like Secretary Seward on his side, how much more do we need our friends and co-workers?
Finally, that brings us to the greatest secret of all, loving those who are part of your team. You fight with family members, siblings argue, brothers blacken eyes, but then they hug. You don’t abandon those that you care about.
I do my best, the moment any argument arises, to table my response. I don’t ignore my emotions, but I work through them silently, processing in my head. Listening to the stupidity of my own anger, reminding myself of how much the other person means to me.
When we’re hurt, we can be irrational. All we see is our injury, and that type of tunnel vision can destroy relationships. I’ll say it again, I’m at least smart enough to know that when I’m hurt, I can say stupid things. So it’s best to keep them unsaid, for everyone’s sake.
There will be time for discussion, but to be fair, many arguments can be avoided. Ask any couple that has been married for any length of time and they’ll tell you. You pick your battles. Most of the time, you don’t have to prove your right, you don’t have to be justified.
When goals aren’t enough, and patience wears thin, love overlooks. It reminds you, yes you’re mad, maybe even rightfully so, but you love this person. Love says I’m angry with you, but I won’t leave without you.
Will you be hurt, betrayed, stabbed in the back along the way? Yes, but that will happen anyway. You can’t isolate yourself from pain, but if not careful, you can alienate those you love. Loving people is the only way to be truly successful in any walk of life.
Getting along with people will start with a common destination. You’ll have to be patient as you go. At times, it won’t be enough, but then you’ll look over at your friends. You’ll remember how much they mean to you, and you’ll hold each other as you cross the finish line together.