5 Rules of Thumb for Teamwork

What are the five most important things to remember when working as a team – at the office or on an expedition?

1. Stay positive

You can influence your attitude by how you handle experiences and events. Your attitude also directly influences people around you. If you manage to stay positive, independent of the situation and how you feel at that moment, it will pay itself back in dividends. Nobody wants to have a complainer as company anyway! When you spend hours working on a project, or face extreme conditions close to your own limits, you will need all the positivity that you and your team can provide. Staying positive makes you stronger.

2. Be present

Don’t waste time by looking back, since you’re not going that way. Don’t worry about the past, or the future – what is important is the present moment. Be present, live in the moment and enjoy – your life is this step, now. Use the moment to learn or to support somebody. Or if you are far from home, stop for a moment to look around and take it all in, to appreciate where you are.

3. Stay calm

When you are under pressure, don’t let it influence your decisions in a negative way – it is not a means for making compromises. Don’t let panic take over and direct your thoughts, instead acknowledge the situation and take control, direct it, before it spreads to the others. Especially on expeditions panic can lead to very uncomfortable and life-threatening situations. So calm yourself and communicate clearly, despite the pressure. Then move on.

4. Respect the others

Team, environment, me. It is not a question of me, nor what I feel or want. Respect your team and each individual. We are all under pressure at some point, and it is guaranteed that each one of us will face difficulties or challenges. Recognize that we all have different skills and strengths and that we react in different ways – understand that it is temporary, and support the others in getting the situation under control.
Respect breeds trust. And trust breeds respect. In critical situations the attitude of the team, the trust and respect for the others, have even saved lives.

5. Do.Not.Give.Up.

As you work for common goals with your team, sometimes even in very precarious situations – it would often be easier to just give up. But do not believe everything you think. The mind is very strong, and finding hidden reserves can require a significant effort, both mental and physical. But the reserves are there. I’ve faced this situation, both at the office and on steep slopes at high altitude.

And I know, adversity may hurt. That is when we weigh our values, perseverance and resilience. Because we learn through adversity. It is hard coded into us, like a hidden superpower. If – we learn how to use it to our advantage. Adversity is part of the journey and no reason to quit.

What you become in the process is more important than the goal. The journey is what builds character, respect and trust, when your team develops the most. Be grateful that you are part of a team, and that without you the team would not be as strong, or where it is today.

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.
– Henry Ford
Writer of the article, Kim Nystrom is an ispiring motivational keynote speaker and a mountaineer.