Carry a Big Shield

In 480 BC 300 Spartan Warriors fought in a battle know today as the Battle of Thermopylae. A battle between ancient Greece and Persia. As the story goes, the Spartans were eventually overtaken and defeated but not before eliminating over 150,000 of their adversaries with only a few hundred men. Now, anyone who saw the movie 300 knows of this story. And while the movie exaggerated many of the facts, it did manage to leave me quite inspired.

It was the amazing teamwork I found to be remarkable. How do so few accomplish something so great? What I learned through several readings to include Simon Sinek’s book - Leaders Eat Last, is that the secret to the Spartan’s success was the size of their shield. The shield was designed to not only protect the warrior holding the shield, but to protect the warrior to the left and the warrior to the right. Should a warrior have lost his sword in battle it would be of no consequence to the team, but to lose one’s shield would render the warrior virtually useless. This my friends represents the essence of team work: Looking out for the true wellbeing of each person on the team, the person to the left and the person to the right.

Recently I have witnessed an increase in victimization and drama in many organizations. Many rather place blame and gossip than raise their proverbial shield in an effort to protect and support their brother’s and sister’s. This behavior is eroding the moral foundation of teamwork. With so many willing to sacrifice others to advance their own careers I often find myself asking people: Did you forget your shield today? It’s a question I encourage people to ask themselves every day before they depart home for work. Car keys? Check. Wallet? Check. Laptop? Check. Cell phone? Duh. Shield? Hell yes!

Sometimes our shields get heavy. Sometimes we need to set them down and rest. That’s okay. Because when you have fought the good fight, you will suddenly find yourself behind the shield of the person to your left and the person to your right.

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