What Freddie Mercury Taught Me About Teamwork
I recently watched the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” and came away thinking about the 80s, rock n’ roll and, surprisingly, teamwork.
(Spoiler Alert!) In the film, Queen’s front-man Freddie Mercury leaves his band members behind to sign an exclusive deal with CBS. Freddie is tired of the long, drawn-out arguments that came from trying to write and record music with the other members of his band and believes it would be easier and faster to produce music by himself.
(Side note: while the film may have taken some historical liberties about the plot and sequence of events, its message about teaming was clear.)
On his own, it was easier and faster to make music. Freddie’s hired musicians did exactly what he said with no pushback, no internal debate and no explosive arguments. But the music was crap. Without the friction of the team working together, the music never became good enough to make it big.
This is the ironic thing about working in teams. It feels slower than working by yourself, and it probably is. But the friction of teaming creates something we wouldn’t be able to create on our own.
At work, I tackle some projects alone. I complete these projects quickly and efficiently and am proud of the work I put out. I think, “Boy, it sure is easy and fun to run a company by myself!”
Then I’ll get in front of a client and mid-meeting think, “Wait, what was I thinking?!” Fortunately, my clients enjoy working collaboratively and we get to a better outcome together.
Other times, I work within teams. There is back-and-forth debate, painstaking explanation of my vision and goals, and compromise. These projects feel more difficult, less productive and more tiring. They also feel more worth it. By working with a team, I can deliver outcomes that would not be possible on my own, and these meetings usually end in high fives.
Working in teams can cost you time and energy. The more important the project, the more likely you’ll be willing to accept the time and energy cost for better results. I encourage you, the next time you’re feeling frustrated by the friction that inevitably comes with working in a team, take the opportunity to reframe your internal thoughts. The friction is what makes the outcomes that much better.