Many Hands Make Light Work

As part of their BUD/S training, the Navy Seals pass through a challenge called Land Portage. In this evolution during Hell Week, SEAL candidates work in groups of 6-7 to carry a 300-pound boat on their heads, running across soft sand for about five miles as it rubs on their scalps. This might not sound that bad, but Land Portage is often referred to as one of the hardest and most excruciating challenges a SEAL faces.

Here’s what makes Land Portage even tougher… when someone on the team starts “boat ducking.”

“Boat ducking” is the term that gets used when one person on the team figures out how to fake that they are carrying their own weight. When one person does this, the boat’s weight doesn’t change. Gravity does its work. What does change is the amount of weight each individual needs to carry. It instantly increases the burden on everyone else’s neck, and everyone can feel it.

Take this scenario off the beach and into your teams and businesses. Each person you work beside has a role to play and their own weight to carry. When one person starts to boat duck at work, everyone else can instantly feel it. The pressure mounts, the load gets heavier, and each individual has to strain harder to achieve the group’s goals.

On the flip side, when everyone is carrying their portion of the load, the work gets easier. It might not be easy, but it does become easier. When we collaborate well, and everyone does their part, the weight becomes more manageable for everyone. It’s the experience we have when we work on a team who shows up for one another in a culture where individuals value the group’s success over their own comfort.

As they say, “Many hands make light work.”

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t or don’t carry each other’s loads from time to time. Stepping in for one another when we need help is essential to being a healthy team. There will always be moments when we’re called upon to do the heavy lifting for a teammate, and it’s in those moments where we all really shine.

Don’t be a boat ducker. For yourself and your team, carry your load to the best of your ability, and be one of the many hands doing the lifting. When we do this for one another, the weight shifts, the load gets lighter, and we all win together.

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