Culture and Cohesion

I go back to the ideas we grew up with like things such as “Mom always knows best.” I go back to the ideas of the lessons we learned and think about the times when our parents would tell us what to do. I think about what parents say and how they preach about the way things were at their age. I think about this and how, of course, they were young once too.
I think about the way we look at our parents and how it is hard to consider them as humans who went through their teenage years. To us, they are a separate entity. Parents are not like other people.

I think about the ideas of when grownups tell kids, “You’re just a kid. You’ll understand when you’re older,” which may be true. At least, in some cases.
Then I think about the struggles of anxiety. I think about performance based disorders. I think about the separation and the isolated feelings that come with depression. And naturally, I think about the advice we receive from people and how they want to help, but yet, there is a difference. There is a degree of separation.  

There was something I mentioned the other day that stuck in my head. Even now as I write this, I can hear the words in my mind. I was thinking about an old boss who told me, “If it was fun then they wouldn’t call it work.”

I was thinking about the meeting that took place before my boss told me this. I was a young salesman at the time. My largest orders were late. The goods that shipped were packaged wrong, which meant that I had to drive out to a dress manufacturing plant in New Jersey to organize and label all of the boxes correctly. Otherwise, I would lose a 500,000 gross order of an expensive metal button.

At the time, my boss was telling me the secrets to being successful. He taught me pages out of his playbook; however, his advantages were different from mine and my disadvantages were different from his. 

I was thinking about his ideas and the way he spoke in somewhat of a “Father knows best,” mindset. “I was here before you,” he would say. “Whatever you’re thinking, I already thought of it and did it,” is something he would tell me.
He told me what he had to endure when he began his business. He told me about the way he organized his accounts, which I agreed was helpful. However, there was something incredibly different between us that my boss had overlooked.

His entry into business took place decades before my time as a salesman at a button manufacturer. His time was different from mine. The market was different and buyers were different. More importantly, the culture was different. 

Meanwhile, my boss lived in a big home in Westchester. He was well-off. I lived in a basement and was barely clearing $350 a week. His experience was different from mine. His circle of influence was also different from mine. And one thing is for certain, he was definitely listened to more than me.
My orders were put out last because my numbers were not as good as other salespeople. I had to endure this. I had to endure some minor, but big-brotherly bullying, and yet, there was a slight mascot approach and love that came my way.

I sat in front of my boss and listened to him relate to me, which in fairness, none of this was relatable at all. There were some helpful tactics and strategies but yet, there was a degree of separation.
The separation was no different from the separation I sensed from parents who were frustrated while trying to teach their child. This was no different from the disconnected teachers who saw their way as the only way, and yet, not one of them took the time or the effort to understand the simple differences in our personal culture that made it difficult to learn.

The term culture extends far beyond where we come from. This goes beyond religious background. It is more than our native language or the regional accents which can differ from town to town or state to state.
There is a work culture. There is an educational culture. There’s the culture of our upbringing and our way of thinking or behaving. There are also executive cultures and managerial cultures, which will differ throughout the chain of command.

Although my old boss was trying to give me plays from his playbook, he was also telling me, “Do as I say,” because of course, this is what worked for him.

Again, it is important to point out that our differences outweighed our similarities. I did not have the same opportunities. The market was not as flooded and additionally, the industry was extraordinarily different from when my boss sat in a seat like mine.
Rather than incorporate this information to create a language of understanding, my boss dictated the way to success. Not encouraged. Dictated.

I am thinking about some of the popular coaches who took their football teams to win Super Bowls and whose names have become etched in the minds of their fans as the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.
Meanwhile, the coaches themselves were not the ones on the football field.
They were not the ones who endured the tackles or the pain or ran up and down the field. Instead, they learned to create a culture of understanding to create an optimal level of teamwork.
It is true that strong teams perform better than random co-workers who work together on projects. It is true that although not all things in life will be optimal, still, whether we are on a football field in the Super Bowl or working an overnight shift to keep the lights on, there needs to be an empowering culture to promote our best performance. 

The truth is we all have off days. We all have times when we struggle with adversity. There are parents who parent better than others and there are leaders who manage better.
The lessons to lead or follow are lessons that come from our background and our culture. However, in the case of the winning coaches, what was it that caused people to consider them to be the greatest?
Was it their way or the highway?
Was it their ability to relate to their players and create an interpersonal language of understanding?
Was it their energy level or was it their ability to distribute the workload and player responsibility?
Or was it their ability to match personal satisfaction throughout the entire organization by focusing on the value of entirety?

I have been in corporate atmospheres where the top level executives receive coaching benefits and yet, their subordinate levels are faced with the options of producing or finding someplace else to work. They talk about diversity, equity and inclusion but yet, their floors and their perks are exclusive to them.
Mid-level managers who support the upper tiers have voices and needs, but yet, where is their coaching or cultural acknowledgements?
There are different leaders in this world and to each is their own strategy. There are some leaders who believe that since their way worked for them, then naturally, their way will work for everybody else. Right?
Wrong . . .

There are books on the market that teach people how to become millionaires. There are billionaires who offer their advice and although their strategies are brilliant, this does not guarantee success nor will this determine the future success for anyone else.
Don’t believe me?
Think about how many books are on the market that teach us how to be rich.
Think about the word itself. “Rich”
Say this word to yourself in your mind.

The word itself and the visceral feel is unique to the individual; and although helpful strategies are beneficial, it is also important to understand culture. It is important to create a sense of cultural competence. This is what makes leaders great.
We all have our own unique advantages and strengths. Therefore, the fact that professional talent is at the top level, and yet, there were NFL teams with extraordinary talent who never had winning seasons can also be a flaw in the team’s ability to achieve their best unit cohesion. The point being is everyone on the team has a stake; everyone has equity in both the losses and the gains.
Strong leaders are the ones who are able to listen to their teams and interact with them. They also understand the benefit of teamwork and teammate satisfaction. And, if this is so on the field then this is also true at the corporate level.

There are people in our workforce who have grown in their positions and yet, although they rose through the working ranks, the difference in their time and their culture is still true. Times change and like fashion, people change too. Technology changes. Cultures change. For example, sadly, I see the working world through a more virtual eye now. What used to be a decision that was handled over a quick phone call is now something that is baffled, mishandled and confused by misinterpreted emails and email changes with cc’d people; of whom, all of which have an opinion and all of which destroys the synergy of the team.

There are bosses that distribute the work details. There are the different levels of supervisors and management, and yet, at the bottom there are the workers in need of a voice. There are the subordinates in the trenches of everyday work life who have ideas. There is also an unheard voice that goes unaddressed which disables the teams ability to reach their best efficiency. 

So what do the best coaches do?
They listen to their team. They listen to all of their support staff. Whether the ideas are from towel boys or janitors or the physical therapist who helps the players, the coaches with the best records are the ones who provide synergy.

For years I have been part of person-centered wellness programs. I have been part of peer-to-peer advocacy programs to help provide support and strengthen the backbone of person-centered goals.
I have learned that dictating the roads to success is not successful. Cultures, times and personal interpretations are different. For a firm to reach their best potential, they have to create the cultural competency to reach that goal. For a team to win, they have to create a sense of synergy between them, the same as a person in a person-centered wellness program has to find their own ingredients for success. 

My old boss told me about how he became a millionaire. He told me what to do. And I did as he said until a short while after, I finally left the business. The reason I left is because I came to the understanding that his blueprint was different from mine.

He wished me well.

I never forgot him or the lessons he gave me.

This is my pathway to success.

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