This article was originally published in October of 2015 in my newsletter and has been re-published here just for you. It was originally titled: The Great Pizza Adventure.
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.
It was many years ago, a night like so many others.
I was on stage playing a concert with a local symphony orchestra being led by a guest conductor.
I was dressed in my usual orchestra concert attire, a black tuxedo, complete with black cummerbund and bow tie (à la James Bond, I like to think). The strange thing about this time was that I was seated behind a drum set.
I say strange because when you study to be a drummer, you don’t necessarily see yourself wearing a tuxedo while you play. You also don’t imagine yourself playing behind a 60-piece orchestra at the back of a large concert hall filled with people.
I was playing the same drum set that I had played many times while dressed in jeans and t-shirt, the same set that I would “rock out on” in jam sessions with friends.
But this night was different. This night I was playing in an orchestral pops concert and it was the first time I was hired not as a percussionist but as the “drummer” for such a thing.
I had done my practicing, been to rehearsals, but I was nervous. There’s just something different about show time. On top of that, it was a big program. But I have to tell you that I don’t remember one single tune I played that night.
I remember one moment only, and how it felt. The moment I remember was near the end of the night, in the last tune. It was a fast up-tempo number and I was busily keeping time when the conductor looked up from his score and looked me straight in the eye. Then with a broad smile, he raised his hand and gave me a big thumbs-up.
I am going to guess that that particular moment was about 20 years ago now. Yet I remember it as if it were yesterday. I remember how great it felt, how happy I was.
I’m not sure if the conductor meant to make me feel as good as he did, but in that one moment, he validated my hard work, my years of practice, my musicianship and how I played that night.
And the thing is, he didn’t have to do it. There’s no rule about that. I have played many concerts where it seems the conductors don’t even know you’re there. So for one to make an effort, that really stood out for me, and his timing was right on.
That was a great moment! That’s the thing about special moments. They can have a profound impact on people.
On a recent Sunday I found myself sitting in a church.
My church attendance could be referred to as spotty at best, and my religious education as a child was practically non-existent. So when I find myself in church, it is usually as a tag along because I have been gently prodded to attend with others who wish to go, as I was recently.
When I go, I tend to be more of an observer than a fully engaged participant. I also think we could all use a little more thoughtful reflection in our lives and churches can be a good place for that, no matter the religion.
Interestingly this time though, my take-away from this particular visit had nothing to do with the sermon but everything to do with the people who were there.
We’ve all been there….
You’re at a conference, AGM, company retreat, or town hall and it’s time for the team-building session.
You can almost feel the fear in the room.
You start to think, “Am I going to be embarrassed? Am I going to have to do something silly, something I’d rather not do in front of my peers?”
“Is there any value here? Don’t they know my emails are piling up?”
“How the heck will this help me with my work?”
“This is going to be a waste of time.”
Well, actually, it may very well be….unless…