I was in a skating rink enjoying a birthday party for one of my grandchildren. By the way, not surprisingly the skatin’ around music was much hipper than when I was a boy. But when the unfamiliar music finally stopped, something very familiar happened. A teenage employee, dressed as a clown, skated smoothly to the middle of the rink. The lights dimmed. The room went silent. The clown called in the kids, then the light went up and the sound system blasted, “Put your right foot in, put your right foot out.” On cue every kid and a few the uninhibited adults started doing the hokey pokey, ending with a group scream of “and that’s what it’s all about!”
Some things never change. Some things should never change.
In my childhood, the hokey pokey was all the rage at most events and especially at the skating rink. The rink was the most fun, because even if you weren’t a very good skater, you could still do the hokey pokey. Even the super skaters would sometimes fall or stumble when the song called to “shake it all about” and “turn yourselves around.” The point wasn’t the best performance. The point was the joy of the being in the game.
Have you noticed that when great teams, healthy families or good friends get together, the one-upmanship stories subside quickly and the conversation leaps into a lively litany of hokey pokey stories? Even though achieving great things will pull a group of people together for a while, over time, even the best of us will miss more than we hit. Leaders learn that lighthearted humility always takes the day , because …
Things turn out the way they do. Not the way they should.
Successful teams and happy people make a decision to play their own game, not someone else’s, and give it their very best. Hokey pokey experiences are the threads that stitch things back together when the tightly-woven fabric of our perfect plans unravel at our feet.
Taking risks, making mistakes and having slipups are the most incriminating evidence that you are working to turn yourself around in this game of living and leading. Laughing at your mistakes and helping one another get back on our collective feet and trying again – a little wiser this time – maybe that is what it’s all about.
Journal Entry: With the pace and stress level of organizations, teams, careers and family life at an all-time high, maybe it is time to stop taking ourselves so seriously. Celebrate a few more hokey pokey moments because some good things never change, and never should change in leadership and life.
Drop the idea that you are Atlas carrying the world on your shoulders. The world would go on even without you. Don’t take yourself so seriously. ~ Norman Vincent Peale – author and speaker
Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard. ~ Colin Powell – military leader
Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the Gods made for fun. ~ Alan Watts – philosopher
Frame your mind to mirth and merriment which bars a thousand harms and lengthens life. ~ William Shakespeare – poet
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. ~ Proverbs 17:2 – book of wisdom, The Bible