Esprit de corps
November’s major holidays, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day, compel us to reflect on the ways in which we are indebted to others. Another lesson to take away from the rituals that mark these holidays – dazzling parades and resplendent banquets – is that, in a spirit of togetherness, we can accomplish things together that would not be possible individually.
LPM’s monthly profiles of Those Who Serve, entrepreneurs, artists and Latinas Still Standing reveal how often accomplished people attribute their success to teamwork and the support of their colleagues and families rather than to individual effort or talent. However, because much of our connectedness with others is ascribed by kinship, profession or proximity, rather than actually chosen, it takes time and work to create that genuine state of togetherness that permits great things to happen.
The creation of a “family feeling” among those performing as first responders is well illustrated in this month’s Education feature on the training partnership between Phoenix College and the City of Phoenix Fire Department in their educational program for firefighters. Many aspects of the program, such as mentoring and networking within the firefighting community, are intended to promote the ideal of a firefighting career as a “way of life” based on a “family ethos.”
The Briefcase feature this month by guest contributor Chris Majer, author of The Power to Transform: Passion, Power, and Purpose in Daily Life (Rodale Books, 2013), also touches on this theme. Majer’s thesis is that the world of business continues to be operated on management principles largely derived from an assembly-line mentality of production. Today, however, machines do most of the grunt work and human resources have greater value applied to innovation and problem solving. Archaic management philosophies, Majer argues, do not encourage these skills, but rather lead to a waste of human capital. Many of his recommendations center on the creation of a work environment in which people can develop confidence in themselves and trust in others.
Physical togetherness is easy to obtain, but a genuine commitment to the pursuit of common goals is necessary to develop a true esprit de corps.