Lessons from a Team of Teens
I remember the first time I met my State 4-H Council team members. It was at the final state 4-H event of the year, State Achievement Days. I do not know what my advisor was thinking when she told eight teenagers, who did not know each other, to find each other in a crowd of hundreds of 4-H teenagers. Somehow all eight of us found each other; and the first thing we each did was … fight. We fought over who was better, who was our leader, who was the tallest. I do not lie when I say that at first, I did not like any of my team members. Yet after eight months with them, I realize how all seven of my team members have become some of my closest friends.
I have discovered a new belief: the belief is in the power of friendship and its influence on a person’s life. The power of friendship provided me a sense of belonging amongst my team members. This belonging resulted from the unconditional support we gave each other in friendship. Though we may get annoyed by each other, our disagreements are always resolved peacefully later. My team mates have become a form of second family.
The power of friendship also provided me a way to contribute in my team by identifying my role on the team. When we began as a team, I wanted to be the sole leader. In 4-H, people have looked to me, to get a job done, to advise a younger team member, and to lead if necessary. I became a leader neither by choice nor ability, but by necessity. I naturally stepped up like the young fool I was, and still am at times. But when I faced my team members I realized that I was one leader amongst eight. I realized that all of us couldn’t be the leader (in the definition sense) but could be leaders in other aspects. I found my way to contribute through the friendships I made. I became the "father" to my team, talking any of us down, raising any of us up, or being the one who thinks a bit more sometimes. I defended the team by blaming no one. I grew to trust my team through the friendships I found in them as they grew to accept me as a sort of fatherly figure in my leadership style that suited me the best.
The power of our friendship built this team. When we began together there were doubts that we would succeed with such numbers but now as I look back I realize that the power of friendship can also build teams. I believe in the power of friendship.