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Team-Building: The Power & Inspiration of A Great Quote
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Team-Building: The Power & Inspiration of A Great Quote - Executive Leadership Articles

Team-Building: The Power & Inspiration of A Great Quote

Executive Leadership Articles

Team-Building: The Power & Inspiration of A Great Quote

A powerful quote can be a life-changer. Facebook has a section in users’ profiles for favorite quotes. Most high-school yearbooks ask seniors to share quotes to represent them. And websites dedicated to the dissemination of (often misattributed) quotes abound. Inspiring, motivational quotes have become an inescapable aspect of online social media living, and it makes sense: on platforms where passing content along is preferable to creating one’s own content, a good quote can be internet shorthand for “this is me.” There’s a reason many of us put quotes in our email signature lines. This is me.

Good quotes are personal

The “this is me” quality of a good quote makes it both personal and powerful. Our own pet quotes remind us of what we value, spurring us to be the best we can be, and they communicate to others what’s important to us. Even the origin of the quote says something to others about what we’re about: although the sentiments might be the same, one quote by Oprah Winfrey, one by Nikola Tesla, and one by Michael Jordan each give different information about the people sharing the quotes.

For this reason, everyone who hopes to inspire others has a collection of quotes at the ready. And for this same reason, these quotes may be completely ineffective in bringing about desired results. Sure, the conference speaker loves this quote by Thurgood Marshall, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us will. Perhaps we don’t have a connection with Marshall himself, or maybe the wording doesn’t ring as poetically in our ears as in the speaker’s.

Peson A YUses Person B’s Words to Inspire Person C

A good quote is pithy, containing a lot of meaning in a few words. That pithiness is where most of the power comes from, but it’s also not very conducive to addressing the nuances of meaningful, complicated issues. If your conference speaker’s entire presentation were nothing but slide after slide of great quotes, you would feel completely ripped off, not only because there’d be no original content, but because without some kind of expansion and expounding on the quote, the speaker doesn’t really address the issues.

When we select a quote for ourselves, we’re providing the subtext, subtleties, and nuances that give the quote the kind of heft that drives us to copy it onto a sticky note and stick it on that space at the bottom of our computer monitor. The quotes in our cubicles are selected by us, and they’re meant to inspire only us, like that Dilbert strip we pinned right next to them.

This brings us to the incredibly strange concept of motivational posters. When we choose the posters for ourselves, they can make a big difference. Yes, little kitten. I will hang in there. Thanks for the reminder.

When someone else chooses them for us, ostensibly to have some desired effect on our productivity, attitude, or demeanor, however well-intentioned the selections are, they come across as vapid and empty. All the good stuff about a good quote is lost when the quote is thrust upon us for someone else’s benefit. It’s not personal. It lacks nuance and context. It’s effectively a passive-aggressive reach for a connection that’s not really there.

Lyrical and Inspiring, or Vapid and Empty

A few years ago, a writer on Inc.com shared “15 Quotes to Inspire Great Teamwork.” He first offered his credentials (two companies, 100 employees, three times on the Inc. 500 list of fasted-growing companies) then mentioned the importance of team-building. “A successful leader is one who can spur his or her team members to work well together toward a common vision and goals,” he wrote.

Inc. is a fantastic publication, and a regular source of valuable insight, but this is not the best example. There is nothing insightful here, and the quotes are basically fifteen versions of the same thought. The only one that’s remotely interesting is by Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women: “It takes two flints to make a fire.” Yet while this is blessedly an accurate quote, it isn’t true. A fire can be (and often is) started with one flint and one heavy piece of steel. Hang this quote on a wall, and the former Boy Scouts in your office are sure to point this out, leading to a discussion of alternate firestarting methods.

If this conversation is what you have in mind for team-building (and it legitimately could be!), then the writer has done his job. Our point, however, is that for all its complications and balances, team-building is about relationships, and nothing inspires people to form good relationships like doing meaningful work together. Let each person claim his or her own quotes; the rah-rah inspirational quote is a waste of your time and insulting to your team!

Reference link:
Inc.: https://www.inc.com/dave-kerpen/15-quotes-to-inspire-great-team-work.html

 

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Team-Building: The Power & Inspiration of A Great Quote - Executive Leadership Articles

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