Archives For what matters most

The Balloon Stomp

“I got a sinking feeling in my mid-section…”

Robert Roberts writes about a fourth grade class in which the teacher introduces the “Balloon Stomp.” A balloon is tied to every child’s leg. The signal is given then the object of the game is to pop everyone else’s balloon while protecting your own.

Balloon stomp is a zero-sum game. If I win, you lose. Everyone else’s success diminishes mine. I must regard others as someone to overcome.Survival of the fittest! Eat or be eaten!

It was a balloon brawl. Some of the shyer students tried in vain to hide on the edges only to be popped! The battle lasted only seconds. And when the final student stood proudly with their balloon intact, no one cheered. There was complete silence. He was the most secretly disliked kid in the room.

Then a worrisome thing happened. A second class emerged to play the game. A class of developmentally challenged children. They were given balloons and the same instructions. “I got a sinking feeling in my mid-section,” said one of the on lookers. How can we spare these kids from the balloon brawl?

Only this time, as the instructions were given in haste, the students only grasped that the balloons were to be popped. So, instead of fighting, they helped each other. They formed a kind of “balloon stomp co-op.” They held each other’s balloons, they assisted each other in sitting on them until they popped.

Every time they heard a pop, they all cheered and smiled and clapped their hands. And when the final balloon popped, they cheered louder and hugged each other and passed around high fives. There were big smiles!

It was a representation of a scoring system that was a little different. The second class did not score against one another, but with each other. No longer opponents, but teammates! It was a win-win situation!

How Do Leaders Keep Score?

1. Look to “team up” with like-minded win-win people. Your success will be compounded.

2. Go out of your way to acknowledge and celebrate other’s successes. You’ll build bridges and goodwill!

3. Remove envy from the heart. It is insidious and only causes you to play small.

4. Be more joyful and care-free. Be less uptight and competitive. Life is short!

5. The best way to keep score is if we can win together! It cultivates powerful emotions and energy.

Getting a new scoreboard! (And a bouquet of balloons),

Steve Gutzler

“One day it stops. For you, for me, the game will be over. Did I play wisely? Did I keep the right score?”

What Matters Most?

Steve Gutzler —  April 24, 2012 — 2 Comments

“Someone altered the script.
My lines have changed. I thought I was writing the play”
Madeleine L’Engle
 

Have you ever had a day where things click? I honestly can’t recall a more productive day. I woke with energy, blueprinted my day, cleaned my office, found 20 bucks… yahoo, and I had provided coaching for outstanding clients around leadership attributes of the world class. I was clicking!

And then at exactly 6:45 pm on highway 405 while I was driving home from Seattle, I received the call.

“Steve, this is Cynthia. Lee has had a stroke”

My mind was swirling. How could this be? Lee is my trainer and good friend. I just recently saw him as he was putting the finishing touches on competing in the Emerald Cup body building competition. Lee is a model of health. When you spend time when your trainer each week, you become close. Lee and I are close. Often we find ourselves on a Saturday afternoon watching football. He only allows me to “eat clean,” a phrase that I have adopted into my daily life. He reminds me to be a corporate athlete.

Lee had recently experienced the pain of having a son pass away. We had sat together in silence and wept together. Friendship is forged strongest in pain and loss and trial.

Once again, my well-orchestrated life had slowed and fallen off-beat. It crawled to a stop. I visited him in the hospital and will walk with him through his journey the best I can.

Note: Lee is doing well. It appears he will recover with good care and rehab. Thank God!

My Leadership Audit:

Lee is teaching me what matters most! Some lessons are harder to learn than others.

Questions I am journaling about in reflection to Lee’s eye-opener:

1. How do I choose to invest my life? And with whom?
2. Am I really in control or do I need to take a step back and loosen my grip?
3. Can I slow down enough to follow simple promptings that matter? Relationships matter!
Note: I had thought of inviting Lee over for Easter Brunch. I knew that he would have appreciated the invite, but I never got around to asking him. I have learned to prioritize the relationships in my life
4. Can I still continue to build a calling of excellence all the while keeping people in central view?
5. Can I restart my mission of “Inspiring Greatness in Others” with a new sense of urgency and passion?
6. Can I treat my one and only life as a gift and treat others with exemplary respect and love?

Slowing a bit to review what matters most in my leadership and life.

You matter to me!
Steve Gutzler

“Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a lovely gift. It liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation”

“I become smart when I get crystal clear on what lasts and what doesn’t.”