Let’s Dance

A few months ago I wrote about my experiences coaching my daughter’s U7 soccer team. Specifically, I shared how lots of practice and hard work resulted in our girls winning their indoor league championship.

Well, I’m very excited to announce that these same girls successfully defended their crown this past weekend winning the indoor championship for a second time as they defeated a very strong team who, earlier in the season, clobbered us 12-4!

Now, while we did make a few positional tweaks to the way our girls played this team the biggest difference between the two games was related to one thing and one thing alone – dancing.

Changing our Focus

You see, after we lost that game 12-4 we were all a bit bummed – coaches and players.

Additionally, my coaching style and my assistant coach’s style had become a bit too intense and, as a result, the girls were playing tight and scared to make mistakes.

Sensing this I decided to make a BIG change to the way I approached practices and games. And this change was to simply loosen up and focus on the most important aspect of soccer for girls this age – HAVING FUN!

Let’s Dance

This change started at the practice after we lost 12-4. Our indoor team practices indoors where music is always playing… so, during some of the fun games we play to teach soccer skills I told the girls they could only pass the ball if they were dancing to the music.

To really mix things I up I joined in and started to dance with them. That, my dear friends, was enough to nearly draw tears from the girls as they were laughing so hard!

From a soccer perspective the beauty of all this dancing was the girls had “busy feet” and were in perfect position for their “first touch” and were able to pass the ball perfectly.

From a fun perspective the girls had a blast and the mood was immediately lifted.

We kept this “dancing” theme alive for the rest of the season. During warm-ups before games I, and the girls, would dance like fools. The other teams watched us like we were nuts… but we didn’t care. We kept right on laughing and dancing.

The results spoke for themselves. We played much better the rest of the season and most importantly I am pretty sure these little girls never had more fun playing soccer in their lives.

How this Relates to Us

Now, you might be thinking that this is a nice story for the these 6 and 7 year old girls… but wonder how it applies to you and those you work with day in and day out.

I propose it matters A LOT.

You see, we grown-ups often take ourselves far too seriously. Many of us would do well to loosen up while striving to truly enjoy the people we work with each and every day.

Many of you likely teach people about lean and six sigma. My question is how hard do you work to make people smile and laugh during your training sessions?

If you find yourself sounding like a boring professor and wonder why people’s eyes roll back into their skulls 30 minutes in… perhaps you can change your approach.  You may even try Gettin’ Jiggy With It as shown in the image to the right!

Many of you also likely manage people. My question is do your employees “work scared” or “work loose?” If they work scared and without passion perhaps you can change your style.

Now you may not choose to “dance” as this may not be appropriate in the corporate world but perhaps you can find other ways to lighten the mood.

What do you think?

With all this said, I am supremely confident injecting a little fun with all the seriousness of life and business will do nothing but help.

Have you worked in fun environments and not so fun environments? If so, where did you do your best work?

What do you think?

6 Comments

  1. Mario

    April 11, 2011 - 10:22 am

    Your soccer team is lucky! And I agree that having fun while still getting things done is the best way to move foreward.

  2. John Hunter

    April 11, 2011 - 11:55 am

    Great post, thanks. I completely agree that we would do well to bring more joy into the workplace. It is bad that many seem to think having fun is not good at work. Yes there are things that have to be done. Performance on many of those things is not degraded by smiling.

  3. Tom Adams

    April 12, 2011 - 8:24 am

    It is amazing how much we can learn from experiences with our children. Thanks for sharing this story.

  4. DJ Duarte

    April 12, 2011 - 5:35 pm

    Hey Ron,

    Like the article my friend! In fact I often share little tid bits of information (humor) with participants during all of my learning opportunities (doing kaizen and/or teaching lean principles). One that often gets them smiling internally (the mental creation) is that when we look at things we forget that our eyes have been scripted or framed from our lives. What we really need to do is be that adult with a kids set of eyes. Adults are actually kids at heart but we just wear bigger underwear!! I know it is a slight play on words but it does have a profound sense of connection to one’s life of learning and experiences. We need to tap into that humor and joy to keep our energy focused and our senses grounded. This really helps us handle situations that are at times sensitive, deadline driven and stressful.

    Lastly, I was just reading an article by John C. Maxwell and their was a quote that I felt aligned perfectly with this topic. It read, “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” Dwight David Eisenhower

    Someday if we have time I would like to share my 5 Win’s paradigm (one being have fun) that helped my son’s basketball team do great things and achieve better results here in southern Japan.

    Keep the thoughts of success coming my friend. All the best.

  5. Mike Moss

    April 14, 2011 - 6:02 am

    Ron,

    Great post and story. I fully agree with working loose. Our teams that have large doses of laughter during the day significantly outperform the teams that are working in stone cold silence. And in both cases it is a reflection of their manager’s attitude and leadership style.

    Thasnk for sharing.

    Mike