My colleagues and I often get called in to help with team or organizational dynamics that have become difficult for the players involved. Unresolved tension, ebbing creativity, a backlog of undelivered communication, overwhelm…a thousand ways in which the smartest and most vigorously effective individuals may hit choppy water together.

So we are asked to provide something that will bring the team back into alignment.

After interviewing each of the key players, it is usually not that hard to get a bead on what is going on. With skillful facilitation we can illuminate the group’s shared vision and clear the conflicts that had been festering. For many, this level of alignment would be sufficient. Compared to what they had before, a reasonable degree of effectiveness has returned.

Yet often we still hear team members complain that the joy has gone out of the endeavor. A team can appear to be aligned yet a vital ingredient is still missing. Joy is the experience of being fully ourselves. When what I do is what I want to do, work is fun. I am giving my best.

For example, some friends helped me to realize recently ways that I was withholding myself: waiting for permission, making others more responsible than I am and living as if I didn’t have the stuff to make a real difference.

Does this resonate with you? We might ask ourselves, “Imagine you have a magic wand and everyone else on the team will support your wishes. What would you do?” You might find—as I did—that what you really want to do is exactly what the team needs, exactly what the world needs. Yet, for one reason or another, you believe that you could not be the one to do what you see and want.

Withholding of our full selves from any endeavor ebbs the joy out of it. As we let go of waiting for permission to be ourselves, we find the freedom to engage in what we are doing more fully. This kind of inner alignment naturally inspires those working with us to unleash the richness, depth and passion of their contribution.

When asked, these are the people that say: “I am having so much fun doing what I do, I can’t believe I am getting paid for it!” These are the teams that break new ground in their fields.