It is one of the fundamental requirements of great teams to care for your colleagues. The size of the team is not the question. This principal applies to all teams, from a family to country. If there is no caring there is also no real cohesion. Without caring, the members may go through the motions, but it needs real, deep caring for real cohesion. This must be a caring that is not only given but also felt. It is this real caring that builds the unbreakable bonds in the best teams.

I have just completed riding a bicycle from Johannesburg to Komani/Queenstown to raise money for bursaries. We have done this tour 10 times now.

Coronavirus Covid19 temporarily put paid to our 10th tour in 2021. But what was amazing is the care and love shown by the 13 signed-on cyclists in 2020 for each other and for our support team. The team decided that we would do a virtual tour to demonstrate our commitment to the cause and to each other. We felt protected in a cocoon of care. It also alleviated the chill and fear of Covid by consciously doing something together (albeit at distant locations) and for the good of others. We joined each other from Pretoria, Gqeberha, Cape Town, Johannesburg via cyberspace for 850 minutes representing one minute for each kilometre we normally ride when on the road. We were met by the heads of the 13 schools we support in Komani.

In 2021 we resumed riding the real tour down through the Eastern Free State to the hill-girt town of Komani. This team, more than any other, showed a deep commitment and caring for each other and an equally intense understanding of why were doing this…9 days on a hard little saddle in order to change the lives of people we had never met. You learn the importance of proper caring on a journey like this, with people like this.

If the COVI19 crisis only revealed just one good thing to us it is that we are significantly much better when we actively care for each other enough to make huge sacrifices. It has also shown us that survival can only be a joint strategy. No individual, group or country can survive this type of devastation on its own, even if President Trump seemed to think it is not only possible, but desirable. History has shown him to be misguided. Countries the world over are working together like never before. This is a good thing. It shows that there is a caring side to our human nature. It is something we should recognise and nurture.

This quality of caring does not just happen by accident, or by chance. It needs conscious mindful effort. Especially in the beginning.  In the beginning it is often difficult for some people to actually accept the care offered. Some people find it difficult to let others into their aura of personal protection. But when the care just keeps on coming, slowly the defences are lowered, trust grows, and these same people begin to make themselves vulnerable by showing their softer side and themselves begin giving care to others.

It is when this level of caring starts to happen that the cohesiveness in the team begins to be solid and strong, when it becomes a case of all for one and one for all; better and stronger together.

At this level, team members can give and receive teasing in the spirit in which it is intended. Part of the caring process is this quality of interaction. The teasing and ragging that goes on in top teams is an essential ingredient in building a collective consciousness which belongs uniquely to that team and no other. One person may well be a member of several teams and the quality of teaming in each will be quite different. At the pinnacle of top teams, though, is the team where real caring takes place.

We mentioned earlier that this does not happen by accident. This is true and it starts with leadership. The leaders must set the tone and make sure that the caring is genuine, that the teasing is without malice and that team members understand the criticality of really caring for each other; that the primary value in the team is an intense support for each other.

One of the most critical elements of demonstrating care is the giving of time. We cannot relive a moment in time. We are not given any extra time we only have this instant. We cannot change the past and we cannot predict the future. We only have now and it is in this now which we need to learn how to share generously. This is no easy task. It does not come naturally, but it does start with thinking about those around us before we think of ourselves. We are naturally selfish beings. It is difficult to be generous with time, and very easy to make all sorts of seemingly valid excuses about why we cannot care for someone else now. But that is exactly what they are: excuses. There will be no better time. Once this moment is gone it is gone forever. Care now, it is your best opportunity!

The saying is so true: Real caring, is real sharing. Sharing is at the heart of collective success, sustainability and communal strength.

Tony Frost