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Colors Inside the Lines; Plays Well With Others

Pithy phrases on motivational posters and Facebook rarely inspire me to greatness or to fully live out my dreams. Most times when I read them, I am inspired to throw things and swear. So it came as a bit of a surprise last week when the usual syrupy sweet “daily tip” that accompanies the software I use at work didn’t make me want to kick something. It told me to Create My Team. It didn’t go into specifics so I could easily start recruiting for the next A Team (I believe Mr. T could use the work) or Dream Team but I haven’t played basketball in years and I can’t afford Mr. T’s expensive jewelry habit. But what I can do is form my own creative team.

As a Virgo and perfectionist, often times, I’m the one that prefers to take on projects myself so I can get them done right. This often results in me working too much and getting overwhelmed, but at least it’s done to my standards. Never mind I could have delegated the work and saved a few blood pressure points. But the random tip about building my team got me thinking about my creative life. I have a group of friends I meet with once a month to talk about our projects, dreams, and anything else that comes up. It’s a great sounding board and we always feel refreshed after our get-togethers. But we don’t carry that momentum throughout the rest of the month and ask for help when we get stuck. We are a team, but only once a month.

Why is it that we take on too many projects and not ask for help? Why don’t we build teams we can use as creative sounding boards or to help us through rough patches? I believe vulnerability and putting ourselves “out there” are probably the biggest reasons but other than that?

As Americans, the image of the lone cowboy or the person who “pulls themselves up from their bootstraps” (what the hell is a bootstrap?!) is pounded into our brains and asking for has become a badge of shame. Who knows what opportunities we can unearth if we only ask for help!

This idea was further emphasized to me last week when someone on in my circle of friends posted a simple e-mail on a mailing list asking for a used iPod or MP3 player. He didn’t have much money and really couldn’t afford to buy one but though he’d ask the group. I was touched by his vulnerability and simple request. He didn’t demand or whine; he just asked. Many people (including myself) responded and he found he was turning people away but pleased with everyone’s generosity. When I read his happy e-mail a voice in my head quietly said, “He simply asked for help.” I was floored.

Looking back, there are many times when I could have used a team to keep me motivated and inspired. My last triathlon is a good example. I trained by myself and did have a great trainer to move me along but I could have used a running or cycling group to keep me motivated when I was feeling down or unmotivated.

With hope springing eternal and the allergy season finally beginning to wane, now is the time to begin building your A Team for your creative projects or whatever it is you want to do. What about you? How can building your own team help you with your endeavors and keep you motivated when life’s blank page is staring you in the face?

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About Anna Alexander

I am a freelance writer and producer living in the Pacific Northwest. My husband and I live with our cat Grendel who lets us pay his mortgage.

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