• Thomas A. Wilson

Three Ways to Make 2020 the Best Year Yet

Nobody succeeds alone. No matter if the job is harvesting a wooly mammoth or launching a reusable rocket, it takes a team. But people—gosh darn it—can be so frustrating! The very thing that makes wonder possible can also be the very thing that sucks all joy from the atmosphere and replaces it with a bitter, lingering, toxic cloud. (Um, not that I’ve ever experienced the latter, necessarily.)

So, what to do? How can we mitigate the negative and nurture the positive when dealing with humankind? The answer is in the air above and waters below; the birds and fishes offer three clues.

Flocking birds and schooling fish—groups of individuals that seem to move as one entity—follow three basic organizational rules. These rules are beneficial to any business, religious organization, civic group, or family. Let’s dig in.

Rule Number 1

Stay close, but don’t collide. There’s a sweet spot when it comes to relationships. Closeness, sharing life, is important. And so is allowing for personal space. Cloying, clingy or demanding behavior is a turn off. Micro-managing undermines the natural and healthy human proclivity to pursue autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Helicopter parents, controlling clergy, and driven supervisors beware. Your singular, selfish, focus is killing the thing you’re trying to nurture. Inattention does the same thing. Stay close, but don’t collide.

Rule Number 2

Move at the same speed. In any organization, it seems the director types want to charge ahead. The socializers want to have fun at the planning meetings, the thinkers want to do an analysis, and the relaters want everybody to have a doughnut. Four different speeds translate into four disconnected and frustrated groups who wonder why some other organization is eating their lunch or raising their kids. Match speeds! Pay attention to the needs of other types. Make a conscious effort to catch up or slow down. Cohesion is better than dissipation.

Rule Number 3

Go towards the middle. Relationships are kind of like climbing a shale covered mountain side. Shale is flat and slippery. If a climber keeps at it, progress is possible. Stopping on the slope, however, means a backwards slide. The same is true for groups of people with a purpose. Going deeper into the organization, maturing into the mission, is the only way to avoid lethargy and inertia. Dissatisfied, angry, isolated, exhausted, frustrated, and bored people are dangerous as hell. And I’m not cussing here—I mean it literally. Diabolical things happen when people start to slip away from the group that they are supposedly a part of. From suicidal Judas to numb employees to the newly divorced friend, there’s bone crushing pain in organizational disintegration. It’s dangerous along the edges.

So, make 2020 a year of triangular focus. Stay close, but don’t collide. Move at the same speed. Go towards the middle. These three points of reference will keep you on track as you navigate the changing topography of faith, business, and love.

Happy New Year!


Nobody succeeds alone and nobody succeeds without feedback close to the event.

Affirmation of the Week: I follow the three rules to honor my school and bless my flock—every day.

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