Group Projects

{Why Working Alone is Not an Option, but a Requirement}








You remember back in your college days (or for some of you, this would be last week)…the professor assigns a group project, complex in nature and a huge part of your final grade. You panic. Or you breathe a sigh of relief. Whether you get to pick your group or not, most people fall into 1 of 2 categories…







1). The do-it-all


2). The sit-back-and-watch-them-do-it-all



Rarely does the work get balanced among the number of members in the group. Rarely do you get excited about part of your grade resting on the shoulders of someone else’s work (or lack thereof). Rarely does those whole endeavor go well.






I had a professor in college who planned his entire course and grading scale around group projects. Your grade was a compilation of several projects assigned for group work, and not one of them (including the final exam) was done solo. The first day of his class I wanted to get up and walk out. The thought of my grade being part mine and part someone else’s made my skin crawl…and that’s because I fall into category 1, the “do-it-all”.






The professor did this and his reasoning was simple, but absolutely brilliant: He said this was “life prep”, that once we got out into the real world, had jobs and started our own families, that nothing we did was on our own. It was more than just learning to work well with others, it was a glimpse of what was to come. The reality that others would depend on us just as much as we would depend on them and regardless of what job or position we had, our work would blend with other’s work, and nothing we did from here on out would be entirely solo. We would reap the benefits and the consequences of others, because that’s life.








Recently I was placed into exactly what my professor had tried to prepare me for: a real life group project. I was asked to join with three other ladies I didn’t know to share our stores and present them at a woman’s conference….in front of 1200 women. So whether we did well or not, people would know about it.



In case you don’t know me, I fall into category 1, the “do-it-all”{shocking, right?}. And the biggest problem with this particular group project is that it had dependency written all over it. I was the only one who didn’t know the other three, AND my schedule during our planning period was about as flexible as Rubik’s cube, which means I would be that guy...the one who missed all the meetings but still planned to help present AND take the credit for “working”. Those guys are the ones in college that I would tell just to run the Power Point and not say anything for fear that they might mess something up.

See, the thing with the “do-it-all” is that we sound noble for being the ones who don’t shy away from hard work, but can also be code for control freak, micro manager and bossy {guilty, guilty, aaaand guilty}.



So here I am, dependent on others, going with the flow, and learning new levels of what it means to trust a team. And do you know what? It wasn’t wildly different from being at work, being at home, or just everyday life. I think we can get to this false place of thinking that we’re doing things on our own, but the truth is, life wasn’t mean to be lived in a silo. And the people who think that they don’t need to depend on others are typically the ones that bounce from job to job or relationship to relationship never quite learning to work well with other people, all the while thinking that someone else is the problem.





All that to say, that group project actually ended up going really stinkin’ well! I was so proud of my group, the work each person put in, and how well it all came together. It felt really good to be able to trust fall and not hit the ground. We each shared stories about how God has worked in our lives through our valleys and our trials, and our stories wove together like a beautiful tapestry…in front of 1200 women. What a wonderful feeling. Not that the next group project I find myself in will end that well, but I hope to learn and grow along the way, just as I did with this one.








One of my favorite word pictures was given to me by a coworker years ago. The bottom was falling out at work, everyone was running around like lunatics and she paused and said to me, “just be a cork.” I love that. I love to picture what happens to a cork when you pull it under water and let go… bounces right back up. I repeat that to myself when I’m feeling like the crazy is starting to pull me under. Deep breath. Let it go. Be a cork.





It’s good to have situations that force you to let go of control. It’s OK to have to sit back when you know you’re a hard worker and let someone else do more work than you. It’s perfectly normal to get into a season where others ask so much of you that you think you’re going to burst. Boundaries. Deep breaths. Reassurance on where your value and identity come from. And learn to go with the flow, knowing that this group project isn’t your first, and it won’t be your last either. 









Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s