Ten Things We’ve Learned About Teams – From the Harris Twins

When Alex and Brett Harris’ book “Do Hard Things” hit the shelves, it was widely received for its practical wisdom and insights, especially addressing the youth culture. But I think adults can learn much from the observations of these young 20-somethings who started “Therebelution.com” organization as 19-year-olds. “A little child shall lead them” applies here. You can read their material but I have adapted it to express ten things we’ve learned about teams for this post.

Ten Things We’ve Learned About Teams











1)     Start with Questions – Am I the one to lead this? What should it look like? What are the pressing needs? What does the team need from me? What kind of leader must I be? What kind of person? Asking yourself some hard questions is a great place to start.

2)     Walk with the Wise – Mentors and experienced others will save you time and much misery. Do not let you passion for innovation overwhelm your willingness to learn from what has already been created!

3)     Don’t Overlook Home Field Advantage – The Harris’ are talking about the literal home because their family serve together to lead in their organization and speak at conferences. But the principle is true – some of your best resources are right under your nose with the people and skills you already have.

4)     Use Technology to Grow Your Team – Stay connected, build platforms for conversations and ideas, use blogs, create team pages and so on. Sometimes ideas come at odd hours or places – you can easily go online and record your thoughts for the whole team.

5)     Treasure Constructive Criticism – this is so true. I have been asking for feedback recently about my teaching, consulting and writing. Despite the fact there are a few “ouches” (hard truths I needed to hear) I know I will be better for it.

6)     Credit is Free if You Give it Away – Pride will sabotage your team. As a leader, if you reward the team for being a team, you can break down the inherent “competition for promotion” that exists among team members. Share the problem; share the responsibility.  Share the credit; share the rewards.

7)     Other People Are Sinners Too – Everyone has faults, not just you. Because of that we recognize that stuff will happen, relationships will get tense, problems may go unsolved for too long and our work will have a level of frustration to it – most of the time! Get a reality check about one another.

8)     Expect a Nightmare or Two – I love this one. Communication challenges, ethical breakdown, surprise failures, loss of key people at the worst time, a new hire is a total washout, the money does not come in, too much money goes out – nightmares abound. I am an optimist, expecting the best from people and the best from a potential new initiative. But I am also a realist and without getting too skeptic (or worse, getting cynical) I am learning to build a “nightmare factor” into my vision for my work and the anticipated progress or impact I can make.

9)     Don’t Give Up – This exhortation is an overused cliché but an underutilized practice; so we need to practice it more than we preach it. The prize goes to those who persevere. If it is good, strategic, novel, difficult and potentially life-changing, you will have your share of enemies and detractors (people and just plain problems). IF there is no resistance, there is no need for leadership!

10) Success Happens (in More Ways than One) – Achieving a desire outcome or goal is one measure of success. In addition to that (or even when you fail at that) there are other measures…parallel successes…that run alongside of the thing you were focused on. Your team grows, people develop, convictions deepen, hard truths are learned, you discover what does NOT work sooner than later, relationships are forged and everyone does better.


I work much of the week with young, emerging leaders. It is fun to teach and train them. It is even more fun to learn from them. The Harris’ are wise beyond their years. We must sit up and take note.


What are you learning from young people? How are you making time and space for listening to them?


We would like to encourage your feedback as it helps us to identify the issues that are important to you. It also helps others who are searching to develop new creative ways of leading. Thank you in advance for your comments.

Image Source: http://www.therebelution.com/books/

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