Don’t Work Alone

I have come to a rather startling conclusion, an epiphany, if you will: Its way more fun to work together for the greater good, than to fly solo for personal benefit. It’s called collective influence.

Incredible, large scale TV production.

I recently had the honour of producing a televised concert event for a large organization – three nights presenting eighteen musical acts and a cadre of comedians, often scheduled as tightly as every fifteen minutes.  And the bands represented everything from a four-piece combo to an eighty-member choir.

Needless to say, it was a logistical challenge, especially for an economy-mode staff stretched thin as a fourth-quarter budget.  (Our Stage Manager deserves a Medal of Honour – and a long vacation.)

Most of the acts were courteous and understanding, but a surprising number turned out to be what you might euphemistically call difficult, behaving as if the entire night was planned around their performance alone.  They were demanding, inflexible and uncooperative.  One singer refused to go on until he was served a cup of coffee.  Never mind that we were trying to juggle scores of performers and create a seamless show for a huge live audience. Copping a ‘tude, we used to call it.  Attitude.  A bad one!

Now here is the story.

But here’s the corollary – the acts who behaved the most professionally backstage also happened to be the best and most popular on-stage.  Those who were the most uncooperative and demanding turned out to be mediocre performers at best.   I’m convinced that there’s no accident in that.

The pros were a delight to work with.  They showed up to the afternoon sound-check on-time and prepared, and arrived early for the performance according to our instructions.  They looked for ways to be helpful, knowing full well that they were a part of the whole.  Cooperative was the key word for them.  And because of that, their portion of the show ran smoothly, and they ended up looking good.  Give and it shall be given unto you. It’s true – when you help others, you help yourself. When you help others you influence spreads.

But there’s more to this than just producing a show.  All groups gathered into a larger body tend to behave as if their needs were pre-eminent, whether it’s schools at a spelling bee, or divisions in a company.

I work in all forms of television, communication, marketing and media, and believe me, each department on a TV crew can act as if they were the only ones on the set – the wardrobe department must have priority; the camera department is indispensable; the art department needs immediate attention and so on.

The same is true for any gathering of groups.  Take Congress, for instance, where the needs (or wants) of a single district or state can hold up the needs of the entire nation.  They call it gridlock. I call it being selfish.

We need to act together for the greater good, not just for personal benefit. When we act together our influence is larger.

You have to possess a truly outstanding talent or ability to justify an attitude.  But by and large, the ones with the talent seldom have an attitude.  Only the wannabes.  And their only interest is in hiding their insecurities behind a wall of bluster and self-importance.

We all need to be mindful of those around us regardless of what we do we are always part of a larger group.  It has been famously suggested that we need to think globally and to act locally.  Well, that truly applies to each of us whether our globe is our home, our show, our denomination or our nation.  We are all in this together.

Consider each other, first. Walk the walk, not just talk the talk.  Our actions speak must speak louder than words as surely as faith without works is dead. Acting together spreads your influence further.

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