This past week, our staff headed to a conference. We were looking forward to learning a lot and spending a lot of time together road tripping it to Nashville. This time is invaluable to what we are trying to accomplish but also to building a sense of team. The importance of this cannot be overstated. If we are all focused and in tune, we are much more able to accomplish the goals we have set and ultimately make a difference in the lives of teenagers.

The thing I have realized is that team really can look a lot of different ways. For instance, our family likes to refer to ourselves as a team. You may be a part of a sports team, but you could also view your band, chess club, or just your group of peers as your team. The truth is, your perspective is what makes the difference. Maybe somewhere down the road I will share my ideas on the benefits of team, but for today I have another idea.

I got to thinking about how team works only if I am willing to do my part. So if there are things I can do to contribute to the team, I have to keep those in front of me for the benefit of all of us that are involved.

The important thing for a team to work is that I as a team member am willing do what I can to help the team work. I have seen this get lost in some areas of our society. The idea of individualism and equality interfere with our ability to see our unique traits and skills as ways to benefit, not just ourselves, but a team, our community and ultimately have an influence on the culture we work with or live in.

My hope here is to simply introduce the thought that these seemingly small ideas, if lost, will have a big impact on the way things work in schools, businesses and organizations.


  1. I have to be willing to do the part I am good at for the team. Over the years I have seen and heard a lot of talk about finding the areas in your life that need to be improved, refined and worked on. Thankfully, this mentality has begun to change. I think the idea behind Strengths Finder and similar assessments makes a lot of sense. We should look for the tools we are already skilled at, evaluate how they fit the team and increase their effectiveness by learning how to make them even stronger.
  1. I must be willing to let others do their part. This has been a tough one for me, partly because I was the lone full time employee of our organization for  the first 4 years and partly because I sometimes have a hard time knowing which parts of a task to hand off. Either way, I have learned that there are people that do some things way better then I do. If I can find people that are naturally skilled at things I am struggling with, it will be for the benefit of everyone involved. But it starts with me taking the position of not holding onto too much and never becoming resentful of the fact that someone else is better at something than I am.
  1. I want to be supportive of everyone on the team. Being supportive can look a lot of different ways. The important thing here is that you are supportive in ways that the person feels supported. We often try to support people in ways that we think are helpful and supportive but that don’t communicate to the other person or people that you really are there for them. I know this is something I am working on constantly and probably will be as long as we continue to grow and especially when we add staff.
  1. I want to help the team stay focused on the goal. Boy is the a big deal! I have interacted enough now with other nonprofits, and even with business owners, that I see a disconnect too often for what the overall goal for the organization is. When that gets lost, people become much more easily distracted and eventually loose their motivation to do the job they were probably very excited about at the beginning. Michael Hyatt wrote a great blog of Team Unity that really fleshes out how we can work together to stay focused on the goal.
  1. I commit to helping my team stay grounded. I hope to flesh this out more in the future, but for now the base line idea is this, we do not help our team by just telling people what they want to hear or only affirming what they feel or believe, leaving out a gentle guidance toward truth and reality. In an extreme situation, this would involve a team member who has grandiose ideas or goals that are outside of the vision and mission you are trying to accomplish, but no one says anything because they are passionate about what they are doing. It is not helpful or effective to ignore the necessity of having a tough discussion; in the end it can bring an entire team, objective or even organization down. However, if we are willing to face reality and work through the tough times, it makes all of us stronger.

What ways have you seen team work? It is amazing what we can accomplish when we work together effectively. Let’s do it today!


Ricky Lewis is our Executive Director and has been with us since the beginning. He desires to bring out the best in teenagers who feel like everyone else has given up on them.