Shared Fate: The Obvious Answer to Building Great Teams


“A team is any group of individuals with a shared fate—when what happens to one, happens to all. Without a meaningful shared fate, the team will break down under pressure. More importantly, the team members will not have the incentive to address their real issues together, as individual success is not tied to team success.”

Without a shared fate, we never come together.

It’s a deceptively simple truth.

Most six-year-olds could tell you, “There’s no ‘I’ in team.”

It’s a major theme in movies from “The Dirty Dozen” to “Remember the Titans” and “Toy Story”; before they realize they share the same fate, the characters duke it out with each other.

It’s at the heart of great speeches from Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” and JFK’s “We choose to go to the moon.”

If you watched “The Last Dance” documentary about how Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won six NBA championships in the 90s, you’d know a shared fate was the catalyst; when coach Phil Jackson convinced MJ to focus on the team’s performance over his own, the dynasty was born.

The concept is so obvious and profound, but most leaders never manage to harness its power.

Thankfully, I got the message at just the right time: one year ago, delivered by shared-fate-building expert Eric Coryell. Since then, Eric has worked with our team and shown us the way to working on our real issues together—“confrontation is the shared search for a truth.” We didn’t know it, but he was getting us ready for the ultimate test: quarantine. I’m proud to say that we’ve actually grown our business and done some of our best work in the last three months.

When you share a fate, you don’t need to share an office.

I wonder, “What would it take to build a sense of shared fate in America?”

I fear even asking the question makes a political statement. And there are so many powerful forces working to entrench and divide us, from identity politics to social network rage machines, that it’s nearly impossible to imagine.

Still, I believe it’s the answer. Not only have I experienced the power at SRH in the last year, I’ve been pledging it my whole life…

“One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”