By Praxity executive director Græme Gordon

In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice falls sometime between 20 and 22 December. Not only is this the start of winter for some and midwinter for others, but it is also the ‘shortest day’ of each year for all of us on this half of the globe.

As those who have read my blogs before will know, on a ‘normal’ working day I get up at 5am to walk my dog so that I can still get to work promptly. So, this lengthening of the days should be good news for me. However, the dismal winter weather means I personally don’t notice any difference until early April at best.

This in turn means that at this time of year it is truly pitch dark when I take the dog for his walk in the morning. This is especially true as I walk him on hills and through woods beyond the reach of street lighting.

Previously I used a head torch, designed for running at night, to guide me. This worked quite well. However, these are designed to be unidirectional and so clearly illuminate what’s directly in front of you, but not much else.

For Christmas, my eldest daughter and her partner gave me a special ‘woolly hat’, the brim of which has a bright rechargeable LED light. A great idea, designed for ramblers and, it claims, dog walkers.

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So, I proudly used my new present on my first day back at work after the holiday break. It works very well. But very differently from the head torch, because its light is omnidirectional. It is also more comfortable in many ways.

I have, nonetheless, found that both lights have distinctive limitations on mornings when it is really dark.

With this in mind, I tried using them both at the same time. Eureka!

Not only can I clearly see where I’m about to walk and be aware of things in my peripheral vision, but the use of both lights has significantly increased my three-dimensional perception.

Definitely a case of 2 + 2 being greater than 4. In short, ‘teamwork’. 

Now I have been very lucky in the team I work with. It’s a really effective team that, like the dog-walking lights, works well together to deliver results greater than the sum of individual efforts.

Complementary but overlapping skills and qualities are key elements of an effective and productive team, and they work more efficiently and shine much brighter when they collaborate on the tasks in hand.

So, while I often wish I didn’t have to get up at 5 a.m. to walk my dog, I do it with pleasure as I wouldn’t be without him nor the great team I join when I arrive at work afterwards.

Sure, we enjoy our days off and time with family, friends and pets, but time at work should also be ‘enjoyable’. While it’s never going to be stress free, it should always be rewarding.

Learning together from mistakes, recognising and rewarding success, sharing ideas and communicating with each other, especially on the ultimate goals – that way, I believe, leads to great teamwork and great outcomes.