I heard from a number of readers afterwards how timely what I wrote was for them and their teams, as they were being challenged by the issues I described. Interestingly, several of the messages I received referenced Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”
I love that song.
Regarded by many as the anthem of emancipation, “Redemption Song” was written during a tenuous time in Marley’s life. The reggae legend had been diagnosed with cancer several months prior and was aware that his time on Earth was nearing its end.
Marley recorded fifteen different variations of the song, but an unaccompanied acoustic version played in the key of G major seemed to best capture his emotional state at the time. That solo acoustic recording became the final track of Uprising—the last Bob Marley & the Wailers album released during the singer’s lifetime.
Of the many beautiful lines in “Redemption Song,” the one that should resonate the most with aspiring good teammates is:
Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, None but ourselves can free our minds.
That line was inspired by a passage in a speech Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican political activist, entrepreneur, Pan-African civil rights leader, and one of Marley’s heroes, delivered to a Nova Scotian audience in 1937:
“We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind.”
Many times, it is the mental stranglehold people have on themselves that keeps them from being good teammates.
They allow regret, resentment, and insecurity to constrain their productivity. They allow frustration with circumstances beyond their control to confine their adaptivity. And they allow indifference to cloud their objectivity.
By failing to emancipate their negative thoughts, they restrict their capacity to effectively serve the needs of their teams and put themselves at risk of being a source of team toxicity.
As both Marley and Garvey allude, good teammates know they’re the ones responsible for freeing their minds from mindsets that are detrimental to their teams.
Marley died in May 1981, less than a year after “Redemption Song” was released. He would have celebrated his 78th birthday this week.
To honor his memory, share the brilliance of his message this week with someone who needs a dose of hope. Doing so might very well be the enlightenment that helps them free their mind from mental slavery.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate!