7 simple Methods to make your Team eve more successful

Give me your hand. Let me take you to a journey that shows you seven virtues that I think should be lived in a Team (like a Startup) beside motivation, working hard and following the vision. Let me show you on the example, of a short story how these could influence Your Team (Department, Startup, Sports Club) or even Your Every Days’ Life. You just need to read it and think further, adopt it to your life, to what happens to you.

A Team challenged by the Nature

The Journey begins

Life is a journey, every moment can bring you incredible joy.  Set your sails towards what makes you happy!

Five years ago, I was travelling with my team through Pacific. We were a team playing Volleyball and we decided to do a trip through the islands of the Philippines. We rent a boat, the five players and our coach. We were all in age, 26-30, only the coach was already 35 years old.
We were crossing deep blue seas with our small sailboat, passing beautiful untouched islands. On some of them aborigines are still living. It was a beautiful team-building event. The coach was the captain, but we learned to work closer which each other. We learned, understanding each other even better. Everything was close to perfect, until our sixth day.

The Incident

Life might hit you any time, any place, be Strong and remember: There will always be good times after challenging moments.

Everything started as usual. We entered our small sailboat. We left the port of San Jose down to the West and passed Cuyo Island, even further to west. As we had strong wind, we were very fast sailing. We are not even sure if we were still on the planned route. Suddenly, big clouds came across the sky. The air became foggy. A storm started and we tried to find a safe place. We crashed on something. The whole team fell to the front, Peter and Martin even fell out of the boat on some rocks. We hit a reef. We all lost the awareness.

The next thing I know is when I woke up. The sun was shining again. I smelled fresh air like directly after rain. My clothes were wet and I slowly received my awareness back. From the feelings in my head and my position, it is obvious that I hit the mast with my head and still had some headache. I sat up, looking for the others. Marcus, the coach, and Victor were not yet awake again. Sven was down on the small reef, caring for Peter and Martin. We saw, they were ok, just looked a bit more taken. Everyone of us inspected the boat. The mast was broken. There was a whole in the ground. The spare rubber boat was destroyed as well. We saw a friendly looking island close to where we were. As next thing, we tried to use our mobile phones, but the batteries were already very low and there was no signal anyways. At least we tried to send an emergency call, as well as emergency messages, but we were not sure, if anything succeeded. After maybe 20 minutes, all of us were awake. We discussed about what to do and quickly decided to take the snacks we had left, to take some planking of the boat and to swim to that island. We were not aware about what will happen, not aware about who will be there, but this was the only logical idea. So we started our project.

The Island

Think about big decisions wisely. They might change your whole life drastically.

After we arrived, two of us were building a camp, also using the sail. The other four were exploring the island in two groups. I was one of them. It was an island with an awesome nature and a small hill in the middle, but there was no one else, not even any sign of civilization. From the hill, we could see another island, but far away. We collected some fruit and coconuts on the way and turned back to the camp. The situation was comparable to the situation when I started a business on my own back in 2007. It was just a fellow student and me. We incorporated a company as one of the first internet startups in Berlin. We did not have a lot of experience. It was just us two in the beginning, lost on an island of programming websites and Online marketing, specializing on different topics to get the business running. Just like in the Philippines, we were also lost on a lonely island, with only two options, hoping to get found or find a way out, to get the venture started.

As it was already getting late when we were back in the camp, we just collected some wood. Luckily we had a smoker with us, caring for a waterproof lighter, but without cigarettes left (good for his health and the nature). We managed to get some fire and ate some fruits. This was not much, but enough to survive. While eating, we discussed about what to do next. Our coach as well as Martin (who was our team captain) wanted to wait some days on the island, as somebody should be looking for us already. The others wanted to look for a way out. For the first night we agreed to stay, everything else had been decided the next day. We also decided to swim back to the wrack the next day, to either get some more stuff for making a big fire or to build a boat to try to reach the next island. No solution could guarantee a success. With the hours passing, we were wondering what the first night below the stars of this lonely Island could bring.

The Dream

Dreams can tell you what you really want or really fear. Listen to your dreams to work on getting what you want.

That night I had a dream, a dream incredibly close to the current situation. I was on that island, alone. The others were not around. There were binoculars laying on the ground. I took them, watched through them and saw a car staying on that island. Some surfers came along and I started swimming. So I jumped into the water and was swimming and swimming, already very exhausted in some point. The island was coming closer. Suddenly I woke up. Furthermore Martin was waking me up, asking if I want to join swimming back to the wrack to get some more stuff from there. I told him about the dream and he said, “It is just a dream”, But he does not know that once I have a dream, it grows. It grows quickly and I work on making it come true, like the business idea three years earlier. Well it finally failed due missing experience, but at least I learned from that and I can say, I tried.

Challenging the Authority for Progress and Motivation

Challenging the Authority can bring smarter solutions and motivates your Team-Members through participation.

We got some ropes from the wrack. Some more tarpaulin, the destroyed rubber boat and some more stuff. When we were back to the beach, we were discussing again about the next steps. Marcus and Martin were still in the position to wait and prepare for some lightening once a boat or small plane are around. As they are coach and captain, they have some more authority, but the team and I were more into being active. We were challenging the authority. For our raft, we were just asked for the ropes and expected to find some wood on the island. The focus of my group was 100% on building a raft, while Martin and Marcus were optimizing the camp and preparing some visual fire. Challenging the authority was also, what I liked from the one employee we had in the startup some years earlier. She was smart. She had brilliant ideas. I always told her: “I know, I am your boss, but I am also just a human. Whenever you think you might know a better way to do something, tell me and we can discuss”. She came up with some awesome ideas, as I gave her the possibility to influence the business development.

Multitasking to get things done

Multi-Tasking makes your life more exciting, but do not ask your capacities for too much.

In the forest of that beautiful island, we were not only looking for wood to build the raft, but we were also looking for some food. Our stomachs were already hurting from starving, why we also watched out for other possibilities to get food, like tools supporting to hunt some fish. We were carefully listening to the environment, as also some dangerous animals might be here. Anyways, we were on our own and had to look for different things in the same time. We had to be multitasking, like a founder of a startup or the Leader of a team. Leading a startup is a bit like the life we had on that island. Someday a new competitor comes on the market with many investments in the back. We were fighting for investments, but it was hard during that time. Investors were not interested in internet startups, especially after the “.com bubble” some years earlier. German investors are also very conservative with seed investments. It was not easy.

Improvise for the best Solution

Do not despair when you do not know, how to move on. Improvisation can show you alternative Solutions.

Back on that island, we had the seed, planted in our mind. We wanted to find a way out and collected some wood as well as food which we stored at a place close to the camp. Once we had a lot of stuff, we came together again and discussed the next steps. In addition, Martin and Marcus who were laying in the sun, swimming and relaxing, joined the discussion again. One thing was clear: No one of us had a clear plan about the design of the raft, to get our project working. We discussed to start with a frame: Two big stems on the side and one in the middle. These stems should be connected by four not that big stems on top with the ropes. When we were looking for the material, we directly saw this might be difficult. Victor and Sven were looking for the perfect solution, so they went back into the wood looking for some better material. The rest was discussing about how to improvise. This is important, because the environment does not always give a perfect surrounding, the perfect materials or the best words with a reasonable price available for your online marketing campaign. So much of the time on that island reminded me on the time when I was an entrepreneur. I missed those times and was highly motivated.

Trying New Ways bring new Opportunities

Change your habits if you want new things in your life.   New ways bring new people, new opportunities and Great Chances.

We had to go new ways as well. While we were discussing a solution and trying out different things, Martin and Markus tried to prepare something to eat. As they wanted something more than just fruits and we all were starving, they collected some beetles. They found a source with clean water anywhere on that island, clean sweet water. They filled the bottles and cooked a soup with beetles and fruits inside in an emergency pot we saved from the wrack. It was a little hurdle to try from that soup, but were starving, so we ate. The taste was a bit like a chicken fruit soup. This soup could provide us with some important carbohydrates, water, vitamins etc., essential to survive, just as it is like in a startup. You cannot always assume that each step you take is a step of success. You need to find alternatives, to improvise and sometimes to go completely new ways you have never taken, not even thought about. This could be a cooperation with some experts to expand into new cities or even new countries, especially when your business idea benefits most when you can offer your solution internationally.

Take the risk or you will always wonder what would have been

If you do not take the risk some times, you will always wonder what would have been. Taking Risks might lead to a great breakthrough.

Once we finished our improvisation raft, we tried it. It was surprisingly stable, but too small for more than four people. When we discussed, what to do next, we only found three of us, Victor, Peter and me to take the risk and the rudder to swim with the raft to the next island. The sea was calm. We paddled on our raft to the island. Two of us were always paddling, the third one relaxed and watched out for risks and steered the direction.

I already fell in love with this adventure. I felt things back when I was entrepreneur. We tried to enter new markets, we took some risks, but we did not completely succeed. How would this venture end?

We came closer to the island. Some waves hit our boat from the side. Different flows unexpectedly changed our position. We did not consider the influence of flows before, but we knew, we only had this one chance. To be honest, we did not even know if we could ever drive back with that raft to the other team members. We motivated us all the time with the dream on our mind to find a way out.

Coming closer to the other, bigger island, we did not see any human life or civilization. We needed around two hours to come there I guess. The first thing we did was sitting down in the shadow and reloading some energy. We were full of adrenaline and we reached our target. We were so happy about it, but we also knew: Now we are a group of only three friends left and we did not have the equipment the others have. All of us three thought, taking this risk was worth it, wondering, what the next hours or even days will bring, because otherwise you were always wondering, what might have happened.

Stay Positive and Positive will return

Stay Positive and Positive will return.  Trust your Partners and your Partners will trust you.

When we were exploring the island, we found a little hut. We came closer very careful. Wondering if anyone would be inside. We watched out for what is around, ready for spontaneously improvise, to go different ways or just to run away, but we take this risk. Every unexpected and sudden noise scared us, at least a bit, when we walked around the hut to see if we can see anywhere anyone inside. There was a small campfire site in the back, but no one to see. It seemed like anyone made fire there the last days. We entered the small wooden hut. My heart was beating like crazy. Just two rooms, one bed, one couch, two closets, no phone and no electricity. Some old pictures on the wall. In one closet, we found some matches, some paper with numbers and words written in a language no one of us understands. As it was already late, we decided to stay there, making a campfire, relaxing, discussing the next steps, wondering what happened to Marcus, Martin and Sven. Later on, we all shared the one bed, as the couch was too small. It was so comfortable, sleeping in a bed again.

The next morning someone woke me up, poking with a stick in my face. I was scared, screaming why Peter and Victor also woke up. It was a Philippine teenager with his father. They did not understand us. We did not understand them. They were nice. They walked with us anywhere. As we only communicated with signs, we did not know, what we had to expect, but my instinct told me: We can trust them. Also in business you cannot always understand, why cooperation partners do anything, why employees choose that way for a solution. Sometimes you just need to trust partners, believe in the good and stay positive. Usually if you predict something bad will happen, my experience shows, you are unconsciously acting in a way that turns the results to what you predict to happen. You learn to see those things that might show that you were right, although this is not fact yet. When you e.g. drive with a car, coming to a curve, you look to the ending of the curve and drive there. Try to think about it, when you do tasks next time. Stay positive to develop your venture positively and trust your partners.

The Village a Rescue?

You cannot fully relax as long as you are surrounded by Internet and Media. Take a Time out sometimes to recharge your Energy.

The Father and his Son led us somewhere. We did not know where, but we trusted them. After some time we reached a little village. People were staring at us. It was a little scary, but they were smiling. We were much taller than all residents were. They brought us into a small wooden house, switched on an old notebook and started a translation software. It did not translate perfectly, but we could communicate.

They told us, the notebook would only work for a few hours. Each month is a ship coming, bringing new batteries, food, medicine, water and sometimes cloths into that village. They told us, they never heard about mobile phone or even internet. It was interesting, making a deep dive into their culture. We told them about the others and asked them, if they have a stable boat. They told us about a person that knows a person that was using radio sometimes to talk to someone on another island who knows someone who has a good motor boat, stable in the open sea. The father asked us to stay and switched of the notebook. He gave us some fruits and some meat and left for some time.

We ate. The food was awesome. I still do not know what kind of meat this was. Maybe it is better for me, not to know that. We played with the daughter and some kids from the neighborhood. It was a strange feeling, being in a village without modern hi-tech solutions, without electricity, no cars, but some bikes. Apes and parrots were everywhere around. A dense forest on the one side, the big sea on the other side.

New Chances through Networking

Networking can bring new Opportunities! Train yourself in Networking to achieve more.

After some time the father came back with another person who was speaking Spanish, what I understand. We went with him to the house of a friend of them with radio, the possibility to communicate outside of that island. They were talking. The Spanish-speaking person was translating. Some hours later, someone will arrive with a motor boat, so we can look for our friends. The next week should come a big ship that can bring us back to San Jose.

The motor boat came. We looked for that island on a map. There was only one possibility, as on the other side was only the island from the person with the boat. We drove there. We came closer. Our friends made a visual fire. They were happy we found them. We were happy, they were ok and we drove back to the village. We helped the people there with different things. When they wanted to fix anything in building, we supported them. We exchanged experience, using translating software and were a bit sad when the big boat came, bringing us to San Jose. The people there were lovely. If they had internet, I think we were still connected. This is how networking and trust in good finally brought us home. A good network can simplify a lot, especially for startups. You meet people that know people that can help you to find recruitment, better offers or even investors. Networking gives chances.

The 7 Virtues in a row

A great Team-Spirit boosts the success and the Engagement of your Team. Take your Chance to create a success story.

To sum up, I think, it is important for growing Teams, such as Startups to develop a Team Spirit, a mentality, supporting these seven virtues:

1) Challenging the authority (if you may know a better solution),
2) Multitasking (to be able to react and response quickly),
3) Improvising (to stay efficient in processes),
4) Trying New Ways (to find the best solution, and not regret to not have done),
5) Taking Risk (to open your future to new chances),
6) Staying positive and trust your Partners (to steer the project to the best solution) as well as
7) Networking (to continuously look and be open for support).

It is up to you if you accept and live this. I think, this can develop your possibilities to be successful.



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