A New Home for TYS material

Thousand Yard Stare is now Healthy Leadership Habits.

I’ve decided to rebrand the journal for a number of reasons, but mostly because I feel the purpose has changed.  As the leadership articles began to move more toward providing solutions instead of processing experiences, I thought the title of Thousand Yard Stare gave a mixed message.  A “thousand yard stare” is the daze a soldier gets from the stress of battle.  Originally, I thought that title was an apt description of how I felt as a leader and I also wanted a “from-the-front-lines” feel to my content.  But things have changed, and so have I.  I’m getting healthy.  And I’m no longer the battle weary soldier.  I’m a teacher.  I’m a helper for people who need it.  My content is still based on experience, still built on the foundation of lessons learned, and supported with the thinking of mentors and others who are doing it well. It’s just in a different context.

So Healthy Leadership Habits is just what it describes…best practices and advice for the kind of thinking and behavior that when repeated can become second nature.  I often write about the fact that when most writers and leaders define leadership a certain way, what they really mean to do is define good leadership.  So the new site and new brand is about building a context around good leadership–what it is, what it looks like, how it thinks and acts, and what the result is.  The articles are shorter and try to provide more “constructs” for the principles I’m introducing. I hope it is helpful for you as you lead in every direction–leading yourself, those under you, your peers around you, and even those in authority above you.

For those of you who have helped with TYS and subscribed to the journal, please continue to support my mission to help people lead one another well over at HLH.  TYS’s material will still be up and available but all the old content has been moved over to the new site with all the same tag, etc.  Join me in the new venture!


Joshua Dix

Healthy Teams Have Humility

Yesterday I wrote about how healthy teams celebrate, and it really turned into a post about being grateful for what you have instead of complaining.  I then posited that authentic gratitude comes from humility.

This is a graphic I’m working on and am not quite done with.  It is more a reflection of how humility and celebrating look in my mind than anything else.  I think I could expand on it but this is good enough for now.

So how does humility equate health in a team?  I believe that health comes when the people in a team can value the team over the individual.  Anything else to me does not equal a “team.”

As I said in the first post of this series, teams have a purpose.  And each part of a team is like the parts of the human body, all working together.  That body can be sick or healthy, aligned or misaligned and can have an infinite number of purposes.  Think about your body.  Generally what is considered healthy for one part of your body is healthy for the whole.  Performance-enhancing drugs are not like this:  Might they increase the performance of your muscles?  Sure.  But the side effects to the brain, endocrine system and general health of the individual are inversely proportionate.  Do vegetables contribute to one part of the body but destroy another?  Certainly not.

Your team is like your body.  Treat the whole team well and each part is individually healthy too.  But that kind of thinking takes a mindset.  It’s a mind you can have.  A framework of thinking.  That mindset is putting others above yourself and doing what is good for the group instead of just good for you and your performance.  No one is exempt from this on a team.  Not the leader.  Not the members.  No one.

The leader cannot look at the team members and say, “It’s up to them to be humble.”  Likewise, the team should not look at its leader and believe, “It’s his job to think or act for the group.”   Everyone is responsible.  It’s what I call collective responsibility (my next post).

Jim Collins wrote about humility as the defining characteristic that separates the very best leaders from every other leader.  I think the same could be said for a team.  In fact, how much more powerful is a collective humility in a group of individuals who care about one another and have a common purpose than it is in just one person?  Humble teams don’t just do great things.  They do memorable and inspiring things!

We’ve heard similar talk from coaches in college and pro sports.  They say things like, “It was the character of this team that won this championship.”  I often ask myself, “What was the make-up of that character?  What made it championship worthy?”  Sometimes the coaches elaborate, saying, “They played together.”

Playing together.  What is the coach implying by that?  Coaches know not all teams play together and it takes the effort and heart of each individual to put the success of the team before his/her own success.  It takes humility to play together.  It takes a group where each person knows his/her part and is willing to play it, even if it doesn’t always mean getting the glory.  When team members understands their part, and see how it contributes to the success of the whole, they have a shared joy.  As a husband to a brilliant wife with whom I partner to parent our child, I can tell you that shared joy is the best joy.

Healthy Teams Celebrate

I’m continuing in the series on Healthy Teams, which has established healthy teams are made of many things but primarily are built on a strong identity and a communicable set of standards.  What else do healthy teams do, you ask, dear reader?

As my post title has already suggested, healthy teams celebrate.  Why?  Healthy teams celebrate because healthy people celebrate.  Now, this assumes they actually have a cause to celebrate, which is why we first spoke about identity and standards.  Healthy teams celebrate who they are and can celebrate personifying the standards they have set for themselves.

More deeply though, celebrating is healthy because it is rooted in a sense of joy.  Joy is rooted in contentedness and gratitude.  What am I getting at?

Contentedness is a state of the heart and mind that says “I lack nothing.  I have what I want, need, deserve, etc.”  Gratitude is a step further–“Not only do I lack nothing, everything I have I didn’t deserve in the first place so I’m delighted to have what I do have.”

If a person, leader or team does not have a sense of contentedness or gratitude, it will be impossible to celebrate anything except one’s ego.  When people feel they don’t have what they deserve, celebrating is the furthest thing from their minds.  In fact, the response is reversed–complaining, entitlement, jealousy and envy.  Those are four things that destroy teams and destroy trust in a leader.  Authentic celebrating only comes when there is authentic joy.  And genuine joy only comes when someone can be glad in their circumstances.

I'll be expounding on this graphic in my next post.

We’re starting to get into the topic of my next post–humility.  See what I’m getting at here is that for a team to celebrate well, it has to have a strong sense of humility.  Entitlement never celebrates.  Arrogance never rejoices.  Pride never thanks.  Those qualities always want more, which implies that current circumstances are not good enough.  But humility is divorced from all that, and present circumstances can become a gift. So how does a team or leader get to where things seem like a “gift?”

Well, I already mentioned the big thing–humility.  From humility springs contentment and then gratitude.  From gratitude comes joy.  From joy there is the expression of that joy–celebration.  But what does that look like in a team?

Healthy teams have joy and celebrate:

  • …because they know the team can do more than the individual, so they’re grateful to be on the team.
  • …because only in a team do they get to be a part of a goal or mission greater than themselves.
  • …because in a team you can have the reciprocal action of relationship–celebrating others and being celebrated, caring for others and being cared for.  Even gang members know this, and why when they are interviewed by the likes of Lisa Ling or Anderson Cooper (Channel 1, anybody?), they often note the sense of belonging they felt in the gang…like family.
  • …because healthy leaders have gathered them together and invested in them.

Some questions for team leaders:

  • Does my team celebrate well?  Why or why not?
  • Am I the roadblock to my team celebrating?
  • What might be keeping me from celebrating with others?  What am I disappointed in or with?  What do I feel entitled to that I am not getting and is that entitlement right?
  • Where do I need to be humbled so I can have joy?
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