September 14, 2012
I've attended two industry conferences recently, and have witnessed an interesting phenomenon.
For illustration purposes, let's call it "choosing sides for kickball".
Remember back in elementary school, when time came for recess?
One of the first orders of business was to choose sides for the big game.
For us, it was very often a soul stirring game of kickball.
We'd all line up across one side of the blacktop, and two captains would be chosen.
Most often, this duo of leaders would be popular, good looking, excellent athletes.
And they in turn would begin choosing people to be on their team.
The first few rounds of selections were usually very easy to predict.
The big, strong, fast kids were chosen before anyone else.
Then the less athletic kids, and so on.
As the selections wound down, and there was only one person left, you'd hear this type of discussion going on....
"Hey, I shouldn't have to pick him. We had him last time. YOU pick him!"
Of course, HE wasn't supposed to hear the argument that was going on in front of him....
But most of the time I'm pretty sure that he did. He just didn't show it. Much.
In fact, I think he got really good at pretending not to notice.
If you knew him well though, you could see it in his eyes.
But he was tough.
He'd stand there, pretending he WASN'T the last person being chosen.
Until somebody pointed at him and said, "ok, we'll take him. Come on!"
And then he'd just run out to take his position deep in the outfield.
Not really looking at anybody on his way past.
And play kickball with his friends.
Why are we talking about kickball, and choosing sides?
Well, at both of the recent conventions that I attended, I witnessed folks "choosing sides".
The crowd was going to go hang out after the days events.
And all the "cool kids" were invited, one by one.
Until there were a couple kids left who hadn't received an invitation.
The couple kids left behind were good at not showing their disappointment.
I heard them say, "I've got some work I really need to catch up on. I think I'll head back to the room"
But I saw it in their eyes. They really wanted to be chosen to play. And were hurt that no one wanted them.
I walked away from that wondering if it's really that hard to add one more person?
Should it be that difficult to include someone, especially when they see the teams being chosen?
How many times have I been guilty of leaving someone on the sidelines?
One of the guys at the latest conference saw me watching what had happened, and as he walked by me on the way to his room, his short statement to me spoke volumes. "I feel like I'm back in 4th grade, and didn't get picked to play dodgeball".
His words rang in my ears as I walked out to my car.
And I wondered if people really ever grow up, and grow out of forming cliques.
I hope next time I see something like that happen, I'll form a team of my own.
So everyone can play. And no one gets excluded.
There should be enough dodgeballs and kickballs to go around for everyone.
Don't you think?
Allright. Recess is over. Back to work. Please form a straight line, and don't push.
And please bring the balls in with you when you come.
We will want to know where they are when it's time to play tomorrow.