“None of us is as smart as all of us.” – Ken Blanchard
In the course of being part of many different kinds of groups over the years, in both the for profit and non-profit arenas, as well as for business, ministry, and pleasure, it has been interesting to see how the spirit in which the group members come together far outweighs any talent, intellect, or circumstances that may come into play. More often than not, it does not matter how difficult the goal is to reach or the obstacles that may be present so much as it does the spirit and attitude with which each member enters and participates in the group.
In groups where members have helped to shape a clearly stated purpose(s) and remained focused on it while embracing diversity, listening to one another, and being open to the sharing of ideas and different approaches, seeing them as opportunities from which something might be gleaned, even if they seemed foreign to some within the group, much has been accomplished. Not only that, but through meaningful communication and working together, bonds have developed between group members. Through a spirit of cooperation, each individual has been better for having been part of the group. In addition, the fruit of the group has served a greater purpose; it reaches beyond the group.
In groups where this has not happened, far less has been accomplished and members have often either walked away in frustration or stayed, but with a diminished spirit and sense of purpose. Usually, these members become occasional participants or observers (more on the outside) rather than an active, engaged part of the group. Also operating within these kinds of groups, and larger than the collective purpose of the group, is often a smaller group of two or three driving things mostly to the exclusion of the rest of the group and all that others might bring to the table. There is not much working together in a sustainable way and the fruit of the group, as related to its purpose, doesn’t reach very far and is little to none.
The other day, a friend and I were talking about how sometimes it can be hard to know when to walk away and when to stay. Initially we talked about what would happen if more often than not people walked away. Then we discussed what it is like when they stay, diminished in spirit, present but not really vested; an environment of apathy. The more we talked the more we agreed that the latter was worse, but still as with most situations, for each seeker, eventually the path becomes clear and the way made known.
As I continue to reflect on our discussion, I think about how people and things come and go…as they have since the beginning. Then, I remember, as another friend said a while ago, sometimes it has to die in order to be born again with a new, enlivened spirit. Perhaps the choice is not to leave or to stay, but to embrace and face the unknown and the uncertain (death of what is known and of what we are sure) or to become extinct. For that, the location makes no difference…only the spirit.