By: Jill Jackson, CMP
Has having a constant companion, partner in crime and friend for 42 years taught me about teamwork or is it a learned skill? Since I am an identical and mirror twin, I believe I was born with the teamwork gene. My sister and I somehow worked together to live even though we were a month premature and not expected to make it. We made it through wearing the same outfits and being called “Twin” or “JillJoy” for most of our childhood, since no one could tell us apart. We also somehow managed to both acquire some of our parent’s abilities – sports abilities from our dad and clerical, event planning and medical knowledge all from my mom. She was an office manager for an orthopedic surgeon for many years and did catering on the side. Somehow my sister turned out to be the x-ray technologist (medical knowledge) and I turned out to be the conventions and events planner (clerical and events planning).
Did we learn to be team players and work together to make it through life because we had no choice in the matter? Or did we learn the “teamwork mentality” through our love of playing sports on various teams, through our own individual personalities or through our professional lives? I believe a little of both, but being a twin definitely has contributed in my life professionally in several important ways:
1. THERE IS NO “I” IN TEAM: Through my convention and events planning job at Partners In Association Management, we have over 16 clients, all of whom must be managed by teams of two to ten employees. We all handle different clients and different responsibilities to successfully manage the clients we work for. Without this teamwork approach, we as individuals as well as the client teams would fail. Kind of like when my sister and I played volleyball in junior and high school. She was the setter and I played outside and middle hitter. Without our other teammates bumping the ball to her, her setting the ball to me and my ability to spike the ball down, we may not have won so many games. We certainly couldn’t do all three actions alone!
2. KNOWLEDGE IS GAINED THROUGH SHARING: In my every day professional life, it is a constant learning experience. Even though I have been managing events for over 15 years, only through sharing my knowledge and experience with other staff, giving insight to our clients on ways to improve on successful events or gaining personal knowledge to be more efficient and productive can I be a positive part of the team. Sharing of knowledge and experience is sometimes a hard lesson to learn in teamwork, but as my sister found out from my three broken arms growing up what not to do, all she suffered was one broken toe and now takes x-rays for a living! I definitely took one for the team and remind her constantly that without my wonderful life experiences she would not be in the profession she is today!
3. TOGETHER THROUGH THE THICK AND THIN: When my sister and I decided to knock two things off our bucket list when we turned forty, I was reminded of my promise to “make it happen” and also my fear of the unknown. Getting matching tattoos (our favorite flower a daisy with a lady bug for good luck) and going parasailing definitely took the meaning “through thick and thin” to another level! Knowing our parents would kill us if they found out or we may kill ourselves first definitely made doing these things together more special. In our professional roles, we are constantly challenged every day to reach higher, do more and have no fear while trying. We manage our clients to the best of our abilities and reach to our highest levels of achievement; even through fear of trying new strategies, doing things we have never done before and putting our trust in our fellow team members all to achieve success. Without this teamwork approach, the clients and staff at Partners would not be the successful company it is today and chosen as one of Florida Trend’s Best Companies to work for the last three years!
Being a team player whether achieved through how we were raised, our experiences in life or our current professions can ultimately all be a learned ability. Yes, being a twin I can definitely say that I have had to share things my entire life, never really had an identity of my own until I became an adult and sometimes wished I understood being a team of one. However, at the end of the day, I am very thankful for my sister. Whether I was in her shadow, she was in mine or we stood together, without her learning teamwork may have been a challenge in my life that would not have begun at birth, but a hard lesson learned through experiences good and bad that life has sent my way.