Beginning on day one of SEAL training, the importance of the swim buddy team is emphasized. Teams collaborate in every phase of training, from cleaning and eating to swimming and shooting. We even went to the bathroom as a team! The smallest SEAL unit, which serves as the basis for the larger teams, is made up of two swim buddies.
Two swim pairs form a fire team, two fire teams form a squad and two squads form a platoon. (The names have changed slightly with the term “platoon” replaced with squadron but the basic premise remains.) The team dynamic is the same for each SEAL team, regardless of their operating environments or mission specialties. Start with two-man teams and work your way up to a platoon team of sixteen men.
Whether you’re just getting started, rebuilding, or rebranding, the swim buddy system applies to the civilian sector—it’s all about connecting people. The goal of swim buddies is three-fold:
- Pair an experienced person with an inexperienced member to rapidly close the learning gap. The faster you close the experience gap the stronger you make the “weakest” link of your team (the one with the least amount of experience).
- Team up complementary skill sets to problem solve faster than individuals working alone in silos.
- Bring together diverse backgrounds (i.e. diversity of thought) to spark creativity and overcome negativity within your organization.
While swim buddy pairings are not permanent, the swim buddy system is a constant feature of all teams. Rotating people through the pairing up process helps teams solve problems faster and more effectively. This also develops the critical bonds of trust needed to galvanize a team in difficult times.
When you find yourself in a leadership position, it’s important to remember the importance of the swim buddy system. It can help you quickly identify areas where your team is lacking and take steps to close the experience gap. It can also help you tap into the power of diversity to spark creativity and innovation. And finally, it can help you build the trust needed to keep your team strong in the face of challenges.
Swim Buddies Close the Learning Gap
To have a successful family or company, you need to find someone who is good at things that you are not good at. This may sound like common sense, but it is often overlooked in everyday life. The truth is, we all have strengths and weaknesses. It can be hard to admit that you are not good at something. But over time, you will get used to the idea and feel more comfortable with it.
When you’re young, you believe you can do it all. But as you become aware of excellence around you, you begin to understand that you can’t be excellent at everything. I’ve been comfortable from an early age with public speaking and storytelling, but finance is a different story. Yet it’s a critical component of running a successful business. While it’s important to try hard and learn things that are difficult for you, it’s also important to know your strengths and weaknesses and select teammates whose skills complement your own.
Swim Buddies Spark Creativity and Innovation
Swim buddies can help when you’re feeling stuck. When you’re surrounded by people with similar backgrounds, it can be difficult to see things from a different perspective. But when you’re paired up with someone with a different outlook, it can help you see things in a new light. The challenge that you are struggling with might not make your teammate feel the same way. Your teammate might even feel more excited about the challenge if it’s something that they are passionate about. With a fresh perspective, you can approach the problem in a new way and find a solution that you wouldn’t have thought of before. The key is to embrace the diversity of thought within your team and use it to your advantage.
Swim Buddies Build Trust to Reach New Heights
When you’re working on a problem with someone, you get to know them on a different level. You learn how they think, how they solve problems, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. This knowledge can help you build trust. And trust is essential for any team to function effectively. Having trust in your team gives you the confidence that you can overcome any challenges together. It also helps you feel more comfortable taking risks. With trust, you can take chances and innovate without fear of failure. Innovation offers the opportunity to advance and learn from your mistakes, as well as reach new heights. It also implies that you can achieve more than any one individual could on their own.
Every one of my major accomplishments has depended on finding great teammates. I’m grateful for the role that swim buddies have played in my life and I know that they will continue to be an essential part of my success in the future. The Swim Buddy system is a great way to learn, innovate, and build trust within a team. It can help you close the experience gap, spark creativity and innovation, and build trust to reach new heights. If you want to take your group to the next level, consider adopting the Swim Buddy approach. It may very well be your key to success in building an Unstoppable Team.
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