Thankful: January 2015 + thoughts on teamwork

January ends in two days, and I thank God for each and every day this month that we were able to wake up, for preserving my health so that I didn’t have to miss work or any events I had planned. I also thank God for:

  1. Ves’s help with the coding to make the nomination form for the Nigerian Blog Awards work: a friend in need is a friend indeed.
  2. Strength and perseverance to run the Nigerian Blog Awards—God is and has been my strength!
  3. My mom’s delicious meals, which I’ve been enjoying regularly this year.
  4. The lessons I’m learning about the power of our thoughts and our words, thanks to Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind* and Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life* (which I’m about halfway through). Controlling my thoughts and words will be a journey, but I’ll see improvements before I reach my destination, which is encouraging. The verse I’m focusing on this week (with minimal success, ahem) is:

    Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. –2 Timothy 2:16

  5. Warm gear for this cold winter weather—frostbite is real!
  6. That I finished an online course, Build a Website from Scratch with HTML and CSS earlier this month and learned a lot (thank you to Ruthie for supporting this!).
  7. For a very productive month—I feel more on track than usual at this point of the year.

In my first post this week (weekly to dos: six), one of my goals was to write two blog posts. When I set that goal, I wasn’t thinking of my Thankful post for the month, so this will be more than a thankful post; read on if you dare!

Teamwork makes the dream work

Quote about teamwork by John C. Maxwell on goodnaijagirl.com

January for me can be summarized in four words: 2014 Nigerian Blog Awards (NBAs)! If you’re a Nigerian blogger who’s interested in learning more about the Awards and participating, please visit the site and get involved by nominating some of your favourite blogs (you can also nominate your own blog!). The nomination phase ends on Sunday (February 1) at 11:59pm EST.

These Awards mark my fifth as organizer. After my disappointment that the winners will not be announced in a live event (a major goal of mine last year), I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself, learn from last year’s spirit-crushing task of seeking sponsorship, and hold another online Awards show while working to make a live show a reality. As I work to find sponsors for next year’s 6th Nigerian Blog Awards, it’s clear that a team will be needed at some point to make a live event a reality. Oh, teamwork!

Many people learned about teamwork through participation in organized sports or during university—not me. In the science program you had partners for labs, but even then, each partner usually had to submit his or her work individually (though you could work in groups prior to solo submission of your work). I didn’t have a happy university experience, at least not the education part: most of the time I felt like the dumbest person in the biochemistry program, so I avoided teamwork because I saw myself as the weakest link and not an asset to any team.

What about in the workforce? My jobs since graduating from school have involved writing and editing and although I’m technically part of a team, or sector as we call it, it’s not a case where all members are equal: the work I do requires me to collaborate with outside people (volunteers), and the opinions of certain team members hold more weight than others; these aspects make it feel less like a typical definition of a team—my job is really to support various teams.

Now, let’s talk about personal projects. Teamwork on personal projects isn’t my thing because I believe(d) that:

  1. No one can share the same level of intensity for a project as the leader
    The leader is usually the person who had or inherited a vision or dream for the project and they know where they want the project to go. When everyone on the team is sick and tired of project setbacks, the leader is the one who wants to keep going because they can see what they’re working toward most vividly.

    When I’m working on achieving a goal, I’m ready to sacrifice sleep, food, and lots of time, anything to get it done. I’m not good at taking breaks or “sleeping on it” when I run into a problem that I can’t solve; I prefer to get frustrated and cry (classy). I’m not saying it’s a good strategy but it’s what I do. When a friend asked me to help her develop her website a couple of years ago, it was a full day affair. She came over to my house late in the morning and we worked on the site all day. By around midnight or so, my friend was ready to call it a day but I was determined for us to finish; I would have gone until 5:00am if needed but I called it quits eventually.

  2. Everyone must be equally committed to/invested in the project, otherwise they won’t be committed long-term
    This belief contradicts the first one, but to avoid the situation where some team members are ready to run when things get tough, I believed all members needed to be as invested in the project as the leader.
  3. Team members will always let you down
    The few times that I participated in teamwork in high school, it was tough. Half the time, my teammates just didn’t care about the project and wanted to do the minimum required to pass. In high school it was so easy to impress a teacher, yet not everyone was willing to more than they had to, so I ended up doing more work because I wasn’t going to settle for a passing grade when I could get an A+. And when you work your butt off and get that A+ and your teammates who only did the bare minimum also get an A+, it stings! Better to work solo and get your own mark that you alone earned and deserve!

But those three points aren’t always true: first, a good leader will be able to motivate his or her team to share his or her vision to the point where team members are just as if not more passionate about the project than the leader is. So if a leader can’t find like-minded people, he or she is probably the problem! Second, I’m now thinking that maybe team members just have to be committed enough: if someone shows up every day, does what is asked of them (and maybe even does more occasionally) and does it well, does it matter if they manage to do it during their regular hours and don’t say up until 4:00am? It shouldn’t—people are different and they work differently, and a good team can accommodate different working styles. And thirdly, it is possible to find people of integrity who won’t let you down, who will do what they commit to. They may take longer to find but they exist.

I remember a conversation with someone who was recruiting team members for a project. I assumed he’d be paying the team members so I asked how payment would work. His reply was that he was seeking partners, not staff, and I thought that was a nice way to look at it: you want someone who gets involved in a project for more than the benefits they will receive, otherwise they will leave when things get rough. A good leader must learn to communicate in such a way that team members are willing to undergo personal inconveniences and even hardships to be part of something that they believe in. Simon Sinek’s Start With Why* is a must-read if leadership skills development is important to you. I haven’t read it in a while so I’m due; it thoroughly inspired me when I first read it.

It’s time for me to put my leadership pants on and start recruiting for the NBA dream team. I can’t go much further on my own.

*Affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you purchase the item using my link

2014 Nigerian Blog Awards ad

8 thoughts on “Thankful: January 2015 + thoughts on teamwork

  1. You’re lucky that your mom’s a good cook. My mom absolutely CANNOT. I think she was raised with a philosophy that housewives only needed to know a few basic recipes to feed her family. My (maternal) grandmother, who lived with us, made most of our meals since Mom and Dad worked anyway (and my grandmother’s food was also basic. She grew up very privileged with maids and cooks). On the good side, since she never taught me and my grandmother only taught me very basics (which isn’t necessarily Chinese cooking, anyway), I get to experiment! Food Network, Epicurious and Whole Foods recipes with some tweaking is what I do (often to cut the calories and fat, of course), in addition to making more modern versions of Chinese (fried quinoa, for example – think fried rice with quinoa) and Canadian basics. I’ve also started ricing cauliflower. It’s an excellent rice replacement if you want to cut down on grains or are bored of rice alternatives like quinoa, bulgur and farro (I think I’m the alt grain queen – in addition to the three, I also have spelt, cous cous (both pearl and “regular”) and buckwheat grains in my pantry).

  2. Yes o! 2 more days for the month to end…I join you to be thankful and appreciate your work with with the blog awards….started a website from sractch? Chop knuckles o jare.. My experience with you showed me you are techny savy.. Greet mosie o, eku teju o…mindless chatter.. .a good resolve. Take care.

    • Though I’ve made a lot of changes to how the Awards are run since I started in 2010, the 2010 Awards were based on the work of bloggers Sting (2009 Naija Bloggers’ Award) and Taurean Minx (2006 Blogger Awards).

      Thanks New Dawn—I appreciate you!

  3. Hey Jummy, I love love reading your thankful posts. You are such a positive person! And that, is why God keeps blessing you in my humble opnion.

    Have lovely weekend (I’m off to Paris on Saturday and can’t wait for you to come to Europe!)

    • Thank you, Clara. I’m still dealing with gossiping, thinking unpleasant thoughts, and such, but I actually feel like I’m being renewed every day, and I agree that being grateful is an important part of that.

      Have a lovely time in Paris and I’m really looking forward to going to Europe—I have great expectations!

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