Teamwork in Group and Life........................by Chas. A
I was raised in what I would call a "competitive" sports background and era. I got most of this attitude from my dad, a very successful athlete in Chicago in the late 1920s. Every¬one on the South Side knew him and greeted him warmly. As a lad in tow on many such cases, I wondered what it would take for me to receive such adulation. I had plenty of exposure to the competitive world of sports but not the skills to make it happen. My mom's brothers were both interested in sports also but were small, skinny guys with no athletic ability. Now, if my dad had wanted to sire a clone with his athletic ability, he would have chosen a different mate. And then, he seemed disappointed that I didn't measure up. Was he secretly happy? He would remain the "king" and then we moved to the West Side—away from his power base.
Although I did not have the potential for top success in sports, I did learn the value of teamwork by watching my dad and the sports he followed—mostly high school football. He had a network of friends from his days in sports (as their teammate), lifelong cohorts from his days in a nascent Boy Scout group, and then many friends from his work station. I never met any of his friends from school—as he was a graduate of the Chicago Music College. Both Dad and Mom were professional entertainers but it wasn't their "day job." Dad worked himself up the ranks in the Chicago Police Department and Mom was a successful writer and author.
In my life I had a burning desire for success but it actually was more: recognition is what I was after. But, was I willing to pay the price for such or would I deserve it? Unfortunately, when I ended up in the headlines, it was not for achievement, but the opposite: crime and depravity. How could I have gone so wrong? I can't blame my parents but they thought I had "fallen in with the wrong crowd." Preposterous. Now, in this present position, I am faced with the prospect of cooperation with many who I would not choose as my teammates. If I was going to be on a baseball team, it would be with people who had like-minded skills and aspirations. The best players are those who love the sport and the effort it takes to train, practice, cooperate and be successful. In the professional world—let's say—of journalism—I would have the same goals. If I were to be involved in the production of a magazine, newsletter, or other organized publication, I would hope that the members assigned or recruited or interested in the project would have the same goals: integrity, professionalism, and the skill to research, compile, and write. I would not expect that the person who would be in charge would be the one with the best computer skills. Such a person might do well in a start-up project that takes programming skills, etc. But to put that person in charge of the writers, the people who actually create the material would be like putting a stenographer in a C.E.O. position of a major network. Compiling other people's work in a acceptable format is indeed a skill but none greater than those who write, proof, and publish. Such is a team concept where all skills are blended into one successful effort. The Manager of such a team is a person who has skills in all areas—particularly concensus building. When I am involved in an activity where there is no opportunity to participate creatively, I get dis-couraged.
The same is true in (therapy) group. The people in charge have complete power and there is no room for creativity. In my last term at SRSTC, I did have a few months with JoAnn where she let me try some innovative things in group. This, however, was overwhelmed by the jealousy of group members who viewed me as a threat to their normalcy. The group was floundering in ennui and inertia, stuck in the same "Applications"mode for months on end. When I volunteered to join a new group I was met with the same type of resistance. Here, in my recent I-S group, there was no teamwork in evidence. It was (and is) "every man for himself." If I have no input into an activity I am involved in, I don't do well. I thrive on creativity—as did my parents—and find this location (and some activities) bogged down in mediocrity. How else could it happen to ensure my successful completion?
Using the concept that patients should be involved in the formulation of their therapy groups, I think better effort could be made to match equally competent individuals in a group. It is correct that drug addicted, high school dropouts (I get in big trouble for that disparaging remark) have something to offer (as human beings) in any such group but their grasp of the material and overall performance is dismal in many regards. I feel as though I am assigned to a Special Ed classroom in my quest for treatment success. Every topic seems to skirt the real problems of sex offending. At this rate, I will never be challenged to face the demons which put me in my present position. A team of motivated, educated, reliable treatment participants would be paramount in my goal of therapy success. I think part of my socialization improvement would be to sit around a conference table and hammer out some goals and specifications. This applies to my newsletter activity as well. Our effort there has always been dominated by the computer geeks and valued by many as the ultimate achievement in publishing. Journalism is not for amateurs but dedicated professionals who know how to make it work. Of course, in this setting, it is also very therapeutic for guys who can write articles which examine their core issues and "put themselves out there" in their quest for sanity, safety, and release.