Day 209: Outside the zone

My company’s main philanthropical push is for United Way. Every year, our company is one of the largest corporate donors per capita in Nashville, and we have fun doing it. This week, we put together about 950 packs of school supplies for one educational donation. We also had a silent auction and raised $21,000 that way (I never win what I want there…I’m too compassionate!) Today was our closing ceremony where there were games and food, and a chance to dunk five executives in an ice-filled dunking booth. A couple of those executives were good candidates for the dunking booth because they are excellent targets, and a couple were just playful and egged on those who paid for a chance at hitting the target. One new guy gave a ton of money to United Way today, and although I’m not so sure trying to dunk all 5 executives was a good start for his career, no one will easily forget who he is now that his name has been announced on the loud speaker over and over again.

There was a hula-hoop contest, an egg race and a water balloon toss. It was fun to watch the festivities, but I didn’t participate this afternoon because I had a budget meeting to prepare for and had to leave half-way through. Yet, these types of events are a petri dish for observing behavior. As I watched both the spectators and the participants, I learned (or reinforced what I knew) about connecting.

  1. People tend to stick with their crowds, in the middle of their comfort zones.
  2. Few people mingle outside their groups, but when they do, they tend to be the people who are not embarrassed to look foolish with a hula-hoop.
  3. It’s easy to stand and laugh as others drop into a tank of ice-cold water; it’s not as easy to step up and offer to be dunked…or even to offer to show your strength (or weakness) at pitching a ball at a little target.
  4. It’s not limited to a label like extrovert or introvert. It seems to be based more on a zest for living.

One particular executive was getting dunked by lots of our fellow associates. When the new kid stepped up, the exec said, “What have I ever done to you?” Everyone laughed. Then he said, “Hey, what’s your name? I’m John.” What a great sport! and even with the opportunity to be plunged into freezing water, John was connecting with others. He was an example of what connecting looks like, and it really was fun to see.

DAY 209 HOMEWORK: Think about your zest for living. Is there something you need to do to awaken that zest? To get started, try something outside of your comfort zone today!


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