I am often accused of being hopelessly optimistic, even delusional at times. One who sees the silver lining in a storm cloud that actually contains a zillion watts of energy that is about to strike down on me in the rain, while I happily dance and think about how much the grass loves the nourishment. While I would not argue that my mental state is at least a couple of standard deviations from the norm of what would be considered healthy, there is a method to the madness, and for the Life of me, I often cannot understand how others see things so differently than I do. Life is about choices, so why not choose to see the green in the grass and the smiles on the girls wet faces, versus the mud in the back seat and the musty smell the next morning when you get in the car, since all of them are absolutely going to happen following a rain soaked Sunday afternoon soccer game.
Lessons are out there for learning in everything we do, and this weekend streamed the positive impact that Teamwork can have into my brain from the minute it started through the crash with which it ended this Monday morning. Running around throughout a couple of counties now, and connecting through thousands of Facebook connections, Twitter friends, and countless quick conversations as we take pictures, tell stories, answer questions, and communicate, gave me good examples of where positive interactions builds teamwork, and negative interactions tear teams apart. People coming together create communities of support that can achieve often illogically positive outcomes, while spending time dwelling on the clouds or the divisions between us, weigh heavily not only on the heart, but often negatively impact the final outcome of the game. I get down and discouraged just as anyone else does, when the best of efforts do not succeed, when good intentions don't deliver the optimal outcome, miscommunications happen, or the stream of negativity that comes at any of us through our TV screens, mobile phones, or Twitter feeds gets the better of whatever positive attitude we try to bring to life.
While the list of examples on the dark side would sometimes be more cathartic to write about, I'll stick to the mantra my momma always told me, and focus on the examples that motivate, the people that turn the slump into a smile, and the fact that every day we wake up on this side of the dirt is another chance to have at it with your teammates around you.
Friday morning for me started in La Porte, meeting with Kevin Gould and Alexander McShae of PNC bank. While the purpose of the call was to walk through what options the Life sites offer to them for marketing the bank and all the services they offer, the bulk of the time was spent learning about the team of people that PNC brings together, and the collective spirit that they use to approach the customers that they serve. Whether it was how their regional councils, individual branches, and service lines communicate, to how the online and brick and mortar ends of their business support the main mission, again and again it was stressed how the products and the people have to work together in order for them to succeed. If any part of the link falls down, the whole chain suffers, and you could sense a true feeling of pride in how things work, and why each of them actually cared. The other major focus of the conversation was how social media has taught Kevin the importance of electronic connections in tandem, not in competition or replacement for the physical world. Knowing he can connect a friend to a great source for deep sea fishing charters down in Florida through a tweet, or share his passion for Pop Warner football and Tiki huts with other parents and parrotheads via a photo, gives him an appreciation for not only the viral connection of online networks, but the importance for those involved in the networks to support each other and not just push products.
Friday afternoon took me to El Cantarito in Chesterton, where I had the pleasure of meeting what I already know will be a lifelong friend in Fernando Romo. Once again, the stated purpose of the visit was to sell him advertising and social network promotion, though the bulk of our time together was spent learning the history of El Cantarito in Portage, our shared appreciation for what a wonderful person Norma Laboy is, his love of truly authentic Mexican cuisine and hospitality bringing guests into his "home" each day, and the importance of his wife and the rest of his team working hard and together, that has made his journey from a start up begun on an impulsive hunch 3 years ago through the successful launch of their second location in Chesterton this year. His pride beamed through most when he talked of their 3rd Annual Viva! Portage party coming up September 8th at their Portage location, where everyone is invited to come hear bands play and celebrate their connection to the community, free of charge. "Bring a lawn chair and just enjoy the music - we are just happy to be here".
Friday night was under the lights at Valpo high school, with top ranked Carmel coming into town for a rare home field battle. A sea of green Viking fans turned out in force, the band and the cheerleaders were in unison, and the senior parents were beaming with pride as they walked what was once their little boys and girls onto the field knowing this would be their last Senior night. Through four quarters of battle the team never wavered, the crowd never quit, and the coaches never stopped encouraging the boys that they belonged in this game. After an emotional game where the Vikes fell to Carmel by one point, the comments from their leader on the field, and the comments from the community on Facebook, resonated with the same theme. You battled as a team, stayed positive throughout the game, and we are proud of what you accomplished against a power house team, following a similarly strong outing last week vs Penn. A promising season is ahead of you.
Saturday was a culmination for hundreds of Porter staff, city and county agencies, regional ambulance providers, and unknown volunteers and well wishes as the hospital successfully undertook the move of 95 patients and an entire hospital in record time, safely and soundly establishing a new world class health facility that will serve the region after 73 years at their current location. Seeing all that went on through our staff of people that were staged at the current hospital, the roundabout, the destination hospital, and on the highway in between, I could only imagine the millions of steps that had to be planned and executed for the day to go as smoothly as it did operationally as well as medically. I was incredibly proud of our team closing Friday night late after games in the region and hitting on all cylinders crack of dawn Saturday morning, and we were just telling the story and taking the pictures.
So Sunday, while I watched the girls laugh and play in the rain, I smiled and thought back on a weekend of teamwork and the impact of positive attitudes. Does every branch of every bank cooperate for the best interests of their customers? Does every restaurant or business that starts on a dream make it and show their appreciation by giving back to their community? Does every team that loses a game stick together and find a way to rededicate themselves again the next morning at film session? Did every step of the move at the hospital go perfectly well with no glitches? Of course not, just like how every soccer game is not played on a warm sunny day. Are there people who jump on some negative aspect of every one of those situations at times? Absolutely, and the balance of the world likely depends on the critics keeping the dreamers in check.
In the end, I know that all of those people have battled with wins and losses on their record, and have had many moments where the fatigue or divisions could have torn them apart. Something kept them all going, working together more than they pull apart, so that they could enjoy their time under the Tiki hut, singing to the music, playing under the lights, and opening their doors to a new day.
Teamwork and positive attitudes. Not sure which one drives the other at times, but they sure do seem related.