Sunday, September 5, 2010

Must Have Forgotten The "M" and the "E"

It is often said that, "There is no 'I' in 'TEAM'.".
But whoever said that must have forgotten the "M" and the"E".
This philosophy is common in all aspects of life.
Whatever the situation, there is always a stellar performer whose sole goal is the elevation of self.
This is what I will call the "Allen Iverson Effect".
Iverson was a very good player with very good stats.
But the glaring omission from Iverson's career is that of "Champion".
At Georgetown - no NCAA title.
In Philly - no NBA title.
At the Olympics - (Even teamed with the best individual players in the world) no gold medal.
Sure, Iverson was a really good player (great personal stats) but he was never a great player (no championships).

Music which moves a generation - "We".
Music which causes many to revert to atavistic behaviors - "Me".
Good schools - "We".
Poorly performing schools - "Me".
Good blocks, neighborhoods and towns (even during Segregation) - "We".
Bad blocks, neighborhoods and towns (even with more freedom and opportunity) - "Me".
Successful businesses - "We".
Out of business businesses - "Me".
 No, I'm not saying that Allen Iverson invented the philosophy of "Me" - only that he is the best example of the final result.

At one of the bars for which I consult, there is a fast and knowledgeable bartender.
The girl makes jars full of tips and has a small following.
But the girl is only out for herself.
Her only concern is the money she can make.
But this leads to problems between the other bartenders, the cocktail waitresses, the bar backs and herself.
I know that the goal of having a job is to make money - but at what cost?
The girl is so concerned with her own tips that she interferes with other's ability to make tips.
This girl is so fixated with money that she always accuses others of stealing her tips.

I had to get rid of this girl.
This past weekend, the bar was short a bartender so I stepped in.
In an effort to maximized her profits, the girl went through twice the alcohol as did I with only half the sales.
Sure, the girl maximized her profits but at the expense of the company's profits.
Her self centered desire for money ultimately led to her loss of employment.

The concept of "we" seems to be the most common trait possessed by successful business owners.
Most of the the local restaurant owners who have enjoyed long-term success are those who frequent the restaurants of their competition.
These men and women support each other through patronage, the lending of supplies and the free exchange of knowledge.
Unknowingly, I became part of this clique.
It is not an exclusive group - the only qualification for membership is that one must support others.
In fact, we didn't even know that this clique was ever formed.
We seemed to intuitively understand that everyone could benefit if everyone could benefit.

As my young cousins once pointed out on a recent visit, almost everyone in my neighborhood helps everyone else in my neighborhood.
These cousins are from the hood.
In their neighborhood, everyone looks out only for himself.
But in my neighborhood, the vast pool of knowledge and resources allows everyone to benefit from the knowledge, skills or property of others.
In my case - everyone takes advantage of this and lives better than they could afford to if they had to pay someone whenever they needed help in something which one of our neighbors specializes.

This used to be the case before the end of Segregation.
Even under much more harsh circumstances and with less money - the quality of life and the net result seemed to be that each generation did better than the last.
This "We" philosophy led to generations which could leave the hood and pursue lives in more resource abundant environments.
But as those with this way of thinking left the hood - so did the intrinsic value of such thinking.
So how do we eliminate many of the problems and the very existence of the hood?
Simply put - by replacing the concept of "Me" with the more traditional concept of "We".


DPizz said...

Man you on some idealist bullllllshit with this one. This is the kind of oakie doke thinking that kept me from progressing further in my career.

I agree with the principals you espouse in this post, I only wish the world actually worked this way. In most of the arenas I have worked, the "me" traits of the money hungry waitress are the one's that are awarded. The common traits of the business leaders I've been exposed to are self-interest, self-promotion, and mastery of organization politics.

Since these are the dynamics in most places, I'm not sure anyone should expect the hood to be any different.

uglyblackjohn said...

Yeah... okay.
I agree.
But that is exatly why our economy has failed.
Nope, not at all.
Realist - yep.