When I was a kid, my morning routine involved getting up at the crack of dawn and doing my farm chores. One of my favourites things about that was being mobbed by the animals.
As soon as I would crack open that old barn door each morning, they’d come running toward me, almost knocking me over in the process, like I was some long-lost relative.
It didn’t matter whether it was the goats, pigs, puppies, or chickens. They were all gathered around me within an instant of my arrival.
Of course the reason they treated me this way was because, most times, I came in carrying a bale of hay or a couple of buckets of food.
I had something to give them.
The funny thing was that if I came into the barn without food, they’d react the same way.
Have you ever thought that something in your life is just not fair?
I know I have, and it’s not a good thing.
I think that most of us have some kind of fairness meter built into our psyche.
Truth is, though, it’s not a good way to go through life - worrying about what’s fair and what’s not - because it can send you into a tailspin. It can cultivate negative thinking. It can lead you to say some stupid and hurtful things to people.
For myself, I feel I can turn off the fairness meter, although it can come back on by itself, at which point I have to hit the breaker again.
I have found that the best way to turn it off is to look to others for inspiration.
The other day I was at the final game of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League playoff season, known as the Clarkson Cup.
It was kind of a big deal. The Premier of Ontario was there as was the Mayor of the city, and TSN was there to put the game on TV.
The stands were packed full of grown-up supporters like myself as well as hundreds of little girl hockey players (like my daughter) and other young women who have a passion for the sport and were there to support their heroes.
It was a great game filled with athleticism and fantastic end-to-end action, but there is one thing about that day that will stay with me for years. And it happened even before the puck dropped.
There was a young girl (sorry, I didn’t get her name) who came out on the carpeted ice to sing the Canadian National Anthem. She was maybe 10 or 12. How brave, I thought.
As the crowd hushed and the first nervous notes came out of her, it was obvious that the largeness of the moment was on her mind.
I’m pretty sure you don’t get picked to sing the national anthem if you can’t sing. And sing well. But that day, in that moment, she was having trouble staying on key.
Sympathy for her rose up in my chest. How was she going to get through this?
Then it happened. The crowd just started to sing along.
And not the pseudo-singing you hear at church or in a school gym full of parents. It was full on. Jumping in by the third line, the crowd supported her with a cushion of in-tune notes.
A smile crossed her face as her confidence grew with each word. It was one of the most wonderful moments I have ever seen take place in a large crowd.
That’s the power of support and it made me think: What if support existed in more places, particularly at work?
Does your team have chemistry?
You know, that “thing” that many of us look for in our personal relationships, with our friends, or even where we work.
In our personal relationships, it’s what we look for to know that we’ve met someone special. It’s often more of a happenstance – we meet someone and it’s there - or it’s not. We can tell. It’s almost instantaneous. We have chemistry with them. We’re on the same page; it’s as if our minds are connected. There’s a certain ease.
However, chemistry is much more difficult to achieve at work.
We’re on the lookout for it. That’s because people don’t want to be on just any team, they want to be on a team that has chemistry.
Why? Because having chemistry between team members allows special things - things that surpass the ordinary - to happen. These are the things that get you excited about going to work everyday.
Having chemistry on your team is like having a team on steroids. You know it will be successful. You can conquer anything.
But it’s elusive, hiding somewhere. Can you make it happen?
Maybe. Just maybe…
I hate to break it to you but you’re getting old.
Ok, ok… me too!
I don’t like to think about it and most people I know are too nice to say anything. Most people except for my kids, that is.
Yes, those babies whose diapers I changed in the wee hours of the night just a few years ago have realized I’m never going to play in the National Hockey League or face Federer on the ATP tour.
Now, they not only remind me of change by how they are growing and acquiring new skills but also by ribbing me about my lack of ability on the ice or the tennis court. What happened to respect for your elders, anyway?
They are my walking and talking reminders about how constant change is, and that’s probably good for me.
It’s probably good to be reminded that we are not the same as we once were; that change is always there despite our intense desire to ignore it
Most of us are guilty of trying to hold on to the way things are for as long as possible, when what we need to do is to keep up with change.
Wouldn’t it be great if every person you worked with was simply the best at what they do?
If they had all graduated first in their classes at school and had received awards and glowing letters of recommendation?
If they all had years of business experience and know-how, and were unflappable in the face of challenge?
If they had all come from generations of successful business people?
If they had no demands or distractions from family and could just concentrate on work all the time?
Aside from the potential egos of such a group of people, it’d be pretty interesting. It could be really great. But it’s pretty unrealistic.
Most teams are not made up of the best of the best. They’re made up of the best you could get and sometimes it’s a far cry from the best.
You may have star employees among you but you probably also have a good number of folks who are pretty average. You may even have some folks who are not quite as good as you’d like.
This is most people’s reality. It happens on sports teams; it happens at work and pretty much anywhere you have a group of people who need to accomplish something together.
You’d think that, since this is a common reality for most people, we’d be pretty accepting of this and just go with it, but no.
What can often develop is some pretty negative talk, instead of figuring out how to make the best of what you’ve got.