In my last post, I asked you to cut yourself some slack if you’re struggling with being an effective team member.  That’s because struggling is the opposite of settling; and none of us can afford to settle for a dysfunctional, stalled, or unproductive team. If you’re struggling, you’re working to make it better.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

                                            -Winston Churchill

Struggle is good because it can lead to forward progress.  Here’s how you keep going if you’re facing a real struggle on your team.

Decipher what the struggle is about:  The most difficult thing you’re going to have to do is figure out why you’re struggling.  What is your struggle telling you about yourself? What is it about the current situation that is setting you off?

If you know what you’re struggling with, ask yourself why? That’s where the real insight will come.  Do you need control; are you struggling because you have shared accountabilities and don’t like depending on someone else? Are you lacking self-confidence; is that why you’re struggling to be heard on a team of brash extroverts?

Focus on what you control: How often do you find yourself struggling with something you can’t control?  Here’s the problem—that’s not a struggle.  A legitimate struggle has to be something you can do or change.  If you’re focusing on something that you can’t control, you’re wasting your energy.  Seething, spiting, and stressing are not struggling, so stop.

For example, are you annoyed by a person who keeps trying to impress the boss? What is that about for you? If you’re doing your job and communicating your value, what your teammate does is not for you to worry about.  Let it go.

Don’t struggle in silence: It’s really hard to have perspective on something that you’re struggling with.  Don’t expect yourself to be calm, dispassionate, and rational.  Instead, enlist the help of a confidant.   Find someone trustworthy with whom you can discuss and dissect the situation.  You’ll get a different perspective on the issue. If they know you’re struggling and you’ll have the benefit of a little more patience and a lot more support.

It’s really important not to give up on your team.  And making your team work can be a struggle sometimes.  Make sure you are honest with yourself about why it’s a struggle; drop the things you can’t control and focus on what you can; and don’t try to go it alone.


Have you benefited from a struggle on your team?  What helped you get through it?

Further Reading

Struggling with your Team? Good

What I Learned from my Second Dysfunctional Team

Why you Owe it to your Teammates to Disagree with Them

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