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