L brought home a paper last week on the “Iceberg” analogy for teams. How just a little bit of an iceberg peeks above the water, but it has a whole huge structure supporting its exposed surface, and how that whole structure is necessary for the top of the iceberg to achieve its height. And in teams — every player is important and contributes to the success of the team, even the players on the bench.
I love the Iceberg analogy for teams. Let me extend it!
Life is long. During our lives we will get to be on literally thousands of teams. Sports teams. Teams working on a lab problem or school project. Teams working on projects at church. Working as part of a community group. Working as a member of a nonprofit board. At the workplace as part of a project team. As part of a special project taskforce. A family working together on housework, on vacation planning, on holiday preparations, on the everyday tasks of housekeeping. For fun as part of a choir or stage production.
Literally your entire life will be spent as part of teams. There are very few truly solitary endeavors in life.
Our position on each of these teams will be different. Sometimes we will be a leader because of our experience and competence in the subject area. Sometimes we will be a learner because of relative inexperience. Sometimes we will get the public spotlight as the face of the team. Sometimes we will toil away in relative obscurity. And most often we will be doing all these each day — part of one team in the morning at work, a different in the afternoon, yet another in the evening at home or in the community.
We will all get to experience the full range of roles. Some of these roles will be amazingly gratifying. Some will be less fulfilling. But no on is on top of the iceberg their whole life, we will all get our turn on the top and on the bottom.
The true measure of our self worth is not where we are in the iceberg. We are going to be in different places at different times in our lives.
The true measure of our self worth is how we comport ourselves as we fulfill our role. When we are at the top — do we express humility and thankfulness, do we try to teach others the way up, do we show understanding and compassion for those in other roles? When we are at the bottom — do we seek to understand the strengths of those above, do we seek to learn from them, do we strive hard knowing that the other roles will be strengthened if we work our hardest?
Emotionally it feels better to be at the top. But in the words of someone I once worked with, “Success is a lousy teacher”. I probably have learned the most in my life from some of my time spent elsewhere in the iceberg.