Most guys in America grow up with the message that strong men go it alone. Whether we learn it from The Man with No Name, Batman, MacGyver, or James Bond, the underlying message is almost always that we should be self-reliant, infinitely capable, and rarely ask for help. While it’s great to be self-reliant and capable, there’s a limit to what anyone can accomplish alone. Most of what we do in life requires a team. Part of it is just practical. We all have different skills, talents, and proclivities, and cooperation always helps the group achieve more than the members could achieve alone. However, there is a psychological side that is just as important. Having others to rely on makes us stronger.
Teams can create a positive culture.
There’s a saying that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. That’s because you gradually adopt those people’s habits and ways of thinking. This can work for you or against you. If you have a history of negative thinking, rumination, or excessive worry, it’s probably because you internalized some faulty thought patterns, possibly from parents, siblings, or friends. However, if you have a positive crew, you can learn to internalize more positive ways of thinking instead. What’s more, you can look out for each other. We often overestimate our weaknesses and underestimate our abilities. The people who know us well often see us more objectively than we see ourselves. They can tell us when we’re worried for no reason, or that we’re stronger than we think.
Teams can keep problems from growing.
Strong social support can keep small problems from becoming big ones. These can be any kinds of problems. Maybe you have a friend who can call you out when you’re becoming cynical so you can improve your attitude before it snowballs. Or it could be something more practical, like having friends who can help you out in an emergency and prevent a small problem from becoming a disaster.
Teams can give you a sense of purpose.
When you’re on your own, it’s easy to feel like what you do doesn’t affect others. Your problems are your problems. However, being socially connected gives you a sense of belonging and a sense of responsibility. You want to take care of the people close to you. That gives you a sense of purpose. You also feel a sense of responsibility, like the way you live your life affects the people you care about. You succeed or fail together and that motivates you to put in the extra effort.
Having people to rely on lowers stress.
Finally, just having people you can rely on reduces stress. You worry less because you know someone has your back. It’s like the difference between walking along a foot-wide plank on the ground versus walking along the same plank 400 feet in the air. It’s essentially the same thing, but the consequences of failure are much different. Also, since we are a social species, just having people you can talk to and confide in reduces stress and makes us feel better, allowing us to be more resilient.
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