Last weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to do something radical… participate in the New England Road Ragnar, a 200 mile-ish relay starting in CT and ending in MA. I was one of 12 people on our team, and we were one of nearly 100 teams. Each member of our team ran three legs of the 36 leg course. After everyone completed their first leg, we rotated back to the first runner on our team and we each ran a second leg (overnight). And finally, we each completed our third/last leg. This meant for a lot of time alone running on the road and trails to think, and also a lot of time in the van with teammates to chat and get acquainted with one another. It was an incredibly intimate experience with near strangers.
I was lucky to be the first runner and kicked things off at sunrise on Friday morning. There’s something special about being outside when the sun wakes up; you can’t help but feel the promise of a new day. For me, it generates a greater sense of purpose and gratitude when I can run with the sun. I completed my first leg to shouts of encouragement from my team and many others waiting for their teammate to get to the relay exchange. As I took off the relay bracelet and placed it onto our next runner’s wrist, I appreciated the ceremony of it all. It could have been a moment of competitiveness, but instead, it was one of celebration. That cooperation and encouragement only grew as the hours and miles ticked on.
I am awe-struck by how collaborative it was. That these 12 people came together, created a team atmosphere, and successfully worked through an extremely challenging project. It was a perfect metaphor for what I’ve experienced as a member of the ALICEhelps team.
Two themes stand out as parallels…
Supporting each other to do our best and being in tune with the needs of others. This means a willingness to be a little vulnerable and taking a pulse of the environment. During the Ragnar, this meant acknowledging the discomfort of not having enough rest or food and recognizing that patience might be short—we all gave each other a long piece of rope. Within our ALICEhelps team, we foster open dialogue and push each other’s thinking in positive ways that, in the end, produce better ideas for our users. We notice if a teammate is unusually quiet and check in. We know when a team member needs to check out, and we figure out a way to give them cover… after all, we are a platform that supports caregiving, and we strive to work this way too.
Celebrating the milestones whether small or large. During my overnight run, I knew my team was going to find a spot where they could pull over the van and cheer me on when I was getting tired at mile four. I could count on them to check in and ask what I needed to successfully continue my run. And I knew they would be waiting for me at the end of my run to celebrate my leg being done. As a startup of dedicated teammates working together to develop a whole new platform that redefines how we support each other and give care, well… it can be full of ups and downs. We take time to celebrate the small wins (yes, we figured out a fix to that annoying bug!) and the big wins (woot—we have our first user login!). We find time to laugh. We find time to share stories, about ourselves, and this amazing company we are building together.