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Make The Most of Your Mind-Body Connection: How Building A Strong Team is Similar to Creating A Strong Body

It’s been a few months since I wrote my last post on leadership insights from my personal workouts. This time my inspiration came not physically from my workouts but while reading an article in the January/February issue of the “Dr. Oz The Good Life” magazine.  The focus of the article was all about building strong muscles in your body.  Intrigued to find if I was doing what he recommended in my workouts, I delved further into the content.  Dr. Oz provided three insights in the process of building muscles and as I reflected upon each one with respect to my own workouts, I realized that these tips also apply perfectly to building strong teams in work and in life.

For those of you who may be reading this and are tempted to believe the content does not apply to you because you don’t lead a team, I encourage you to consider that you lead teams every day in your life. You most likely have a team of friends and/or family that you influence in some way each day.  If you have children, you lead a team called your family.  I contend that any relationship that you have with another person is a team; therefore, learning how to build strong teams absolutely applies to you!  Or maybe you like to think of yourself as a lone wolf, well you still are part of team YOU!   All people that lead teams, personally or professionally are leaders in my mind.  Regardless of what type of leader you are, you can’t get productive results without building strong teams.

Here’s how building strong muscles applies to building strong teams:

Dr. Oz Tip 1: “It takes more than one muscle to shift your shape.”   My personal trainer applies this principle to my body in my workouts because each day we work on a different group of muscles.  If we only focused on my legs during each training session, not only would get bored, , but the rest of my body wouldn’t develop in a positive way. The article points out that in order to change the shape of your body, you have to engage all the muscles in your body.  This concept reminds me of the popular saying “There is no I in team.”  If you have a team that consists of one person doing all the work, it prevents others from contributing and the results of the team will be stifled.  Effective leaders engage all team members, empowering them to contribute.  Even if you like to work alone and are leading team YOU, real productivity comes from developing and applying various skills and talents versus remaining pigeon holed into one way of being.  Leadership Tip 1: It takes more than one skillset to shift the results of your team.

Dr Oz Tip 2: “They (muscles) get torn down, but build back stronger.” In the article, Dr. Oz states that any time your muscles do something different they complain at first.  Boy, have I experienced this in my body.  I love those days when my trainer increases weight for one of my muscle areas or pushes me to work a new muscle and the next day I wake up with a soreness in my body.  That is my muscles complaining that they were forced to step outside their comfort zone.  The same concept applies to leading teams.  Humans, by our very nature, think we prefer to do things the same way and most of us avoid stepping outside our comfort zone at all costs.  However, I bet if you take a moment to honestly reflect on the difficult times, challenges or risks you took in life, you will discover that it is those experiences that build you up even if in some strange and unexpected way.   The Kelly Clarkson song “Stronger” sums up this concept perfectly “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  Just like your muscles don’t really want to be bothered by more weight or new exercises, neither do your team members want to be pushed to do more than they think they can.  However, as a leader, it is critical you hold high expectations and push your people to do just a little more than they think they can.  They will complain at first; however, they will be energized by the lessons they learn or the success they achieve.  And if you are the leader of team YOU, push yourself to do more than you think.  Don’t let FEAR keep you from getting stronger.  Leadership Tip 2: Challenge yourself and others and come back stronger.

Dr. Oz Tip 3: “Strong muscles will hang around a long time, provided that you treat them right.”  In this section of the article, Dr. Oz dispels the myth that we lose muscles as we age regardless of our fitness level.  He argues that when you treat your muscles right and continue to exercise and build strength on a regular basis, your muscles will maintain their strength as you age.  The same principle applies beautifully to building strong teams. When you treat your team members with respect, provide them opportunities to contribute and grow, appreciate them and have fun, they will stick around.  This same principle applies to family, friends, partners and yourself.  When you treat people right, they stick around.  So if you have people that leave you, you may want to consider they did not feel they were being treated in a manner that worked for them.  And the converse is true, if you don’t feel you are being treated right, move on!  There is no need to let your strengths being stripped away!  And as leader of team YOU, you must treat yourself right before you can treat other people right!  Leadership Tip 3:”Strong people will hang around a long time, provided that you treat them right.”

Strong muscles like strong teams require creating strong muscles in your body requires applying various muscles, challenging them with different weights and techniques and continuously treating them right.  Apply these three principles to all your teams including yourself, family, friends and co-workers and watch great things take shape!

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