Ronja, one of our nature conservation trainees from Germany, reflects on her first week here at Lower Sharpham Farm…
Monday, “check-in”-date. You arrive at a farm in the middle of nowhere placed between rolling hills, forests, ferns and sheep. You enter the bunkhouse and there it is: your team for the next 3 months, 11 girls aged 19-34. Unknown faces looking at you and you are thinking (maybe even with a little nervous voice, quiet but apparent in the back of your head): “Well, let the fun begin!”
But how do you manage to build a team of 11 very different girls, of different ages, from 5 different nationalities, different languages and different educational backgrounds? The Ambios team does not hesitate and just throws you and your colleagues into multiple tasks and you have no other choice than to grow together and synchronize (to some extent). On one day you are given the challenge to lower a very lightweight stick horizontally to the ground with everybody having just one finger on it, another you are asked to manage a “treasure hunt” with 6 creative, logical and geographical tasks. But this blogpost is about teamwork, so lets switch from a “you”-perspective to the “us/we”-perspective our team is acquiring step by step. And that’s exactly the key.
Every girl in our group has their strengths in different areas ranging from in-depth species knowledge to spatial thinking, great cooking skills, leadership skills and many more: everything a team needs is inside us, we just have to find and channel it. We discovered we can find a place for everyone of us in our team but to do that we have to listen to each other.
A great approach to a good teamwork environment is Claxtons “4-Rs of Learning Power” uniting Resilience (being ready, willing and able to look onto learning), Resourcefulness (being ready, willing and able to learn in different ways), Reflectiveness (being ready, willing and able to become more strategic in learning) and Reciprocity (being ready, willing and able to learn alone and with others). After having learnt about the theory behind it, it is our aim to remember these traits and integrate them more into our behavior in the group and to become more familiar with them. Sometimes it is necessary to stop, think, remember and adapt the own mindset in the purpose of the group.
As we also see in our group, there will always be someone who is more quiet, someone throwing random funny comments into every conversation, someone who will take the lead, someone who may even appear a bit bossy in the beginning (and I think everyone of us could name at least one person perfectly fitting to these descriptions here) but it is not about accusations and we should not perceive that as negative traits, it might be the way a person has learnt to communicate their wishes and thoughts until this point. Everyone of us will discover characteristics and habits within themselves they might not have expected and also not noticed before, positive as well as negative. But this should not lead to hesitation. Now it is our task to find these and also the hidden characteristics, activate, remodel and use them in a productive way to be able to achieve the team effort. Growing together means challenging each other and challenging ourselves also in the topics we might not be too self-confident in but, as a team, we have the possibility to learn a lot from each other and make use of the (personal) resources we already have in and among us.
This learning process we were allowed to start here at Lower Sharpham Farm is a long learning process we all have to go through, and a process that probably will or better said should never come to an end.