It’s not always the formal “learning opportunities” that inspire us the most.
I went to an interesting workshop on Thursday: Lead with Influence: Training Our Talent. It was helpful in the way it motivated us to try to figure how how to change behavior by getting to the motivations behind people’s choices.
Ironically, however, a blog outline popped into my head rapidly as I sat through roughly 45 minutes of Bingo when I met Wayne afterwards at Corner Pocket. (Our house was being shown, so we decided to grab a bite to eat there. It was Thursday, therefore it was Bingo night.)
This is what I saw. (And maybe it’s just that I haven’t ever played organized Bingo. Maybe it’s always this compelling. But it made an impression on me.)
The players were prepared
The regulars (and there are numerous regulars) showed up ready to play, with their special Bingo marker pens (pardon me — apparently I mean Bingo Daubers).
We settled for (wait for it) a humble big green pen (I happened to have one (or 10)) on me, but now that I know Bingo Daubers are a thing, I have my eye on green glitter!
And I suppose it would be a pretty pessimistic move to invest in this one (especially given my Optimism Light alternate identity), but it makes me laugh:
The players were enthusiastic
These people were happy to be doing what they were doing. Their excitement created its own energy. People chatted at tables between rounds; they celebrated each other’s success. They were collectively in that desirable space of savoring the moment while looking ahead to the future with anticipation.
They balanced individual goal-directedness with concern for team welfare
Some people huddled over their own cards, looking for the “down,” “across,” “X,” or “H” that would pay off for them. My husband and I shared a card. One group pooled their money, played all the cards they bought, and then shared the winnings if there were any. I’m not sure what the math of implementing that last plan yields, but it seems that if everyone stands to benefit from the cards at play, there is redoubled attention to marking the cards correctly.
They had shared rituals
Imagine attending a college football game as an impartial attendee. Not knowing any team’s special traditions (for instance, there was a Florida State player once whose nickname was “Pooh.” Whenever he did something noteworthy, the FSU fans would yell “POOOHHHHHH!” but it sounded like “BOO!!!!!” It would be confusing for the uninitiated.)
This Bingo crowd has its traditions:
For B-11: “B 11, BB 11!” they would chant.
One of the “B” numbers was designated for Bree, one of the callers. There were several “special” traditions. (There’s also a group reaction for “O-69” — I’ll leave that one to your imagination!)
They helped newbies
Wayne asked several questions of the table next to us, populated by a group of regulars. They answered his questions immediately and thoroughly. Not that they wouldn’t anyway, but I believe when you love something, you tend toward generosity in how you help others acclimate.
This applies so much in business, I think. If you truly feel engaged with the mission and included in the team, there’s no reason to withhold information or encouragement from someone who is your peer, subordinate, or supervisor. Even if you ostensibly may be in a position at some point to be in head-to-head competition with someone for a promotion or other status change, clarify the email, say a word of support, be the first to answer their question.
It speaks to your character and team spirit if you are liberal in your willingness to help so that the organization looks good and clients are delighted. Karma, I hope, takes care of the long term.
(Side note: I love Caitie Whelan’s brief Lightning Notes essay on the value of “Learn it, share it.” She writes, “The business of living is not a solo sport. We rise and fall relative to our ability to walk beside each other. And when we share generously, abundantly of our learnings, experience, imagination, we help smooth the path alongside us.” Lots of truth here, in bingo or in business.)
Their motivation showed
The moment one round ended, the line to buy new bingo cards would materialize around the host table. (I suppose Charles DuHigg, author of The Power of Habit, would contend this is habit rather than motivation. Perhaps it’s both.) No one had to remind them to line up or incentivize them to do so. It mattered to them, therefore they lined up.
Bingo … Business … Life
I thought when I enrolled in the “Lead with Influence” training that I would leave with the material for a blog post. Besides the awesome opportunity to spend time with my friend Colleen, the chance to get some professional development for free (thanks, Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality), and the motivation to leave the house (something I don’t do often enough), I thought “great — this will make for an easy blog post.”
I did enjoy the workshop and was motivated by the reminder that change can indeed become the “path of least resistance” when we thoroughly evaluate the personal, social and structural contributors when trying to solve to problems.
Honestly, though, the most direct line to realizing how outstanding outcomes are the result of behavioral choices and group unison came from a few rounds of Bingo in a bar.
Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. My pronouns are she/her/hers.
I love this Paula! Great observations and applications to business and life just from a game or two of Bingo.
Paula Kiger (@biggreenpen) says
Exactly! Sometimes the clearest messages come from the less complicated teachers!
Jeannie Prinsen says
This is a great post, Paula – I really enjoyed it!
Paula Kiger says
Thank you, Jeannie. It was fun to write!!