6 Business Pointers from Bingo

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!

Business Pointers from Bingo

Source: Connecticut Bingo Supply Website

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:

Business Pointers from Bingo

Source: Amazon
Made by Powerdot

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.

Business Pointers from Bingo

 

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

7 Takeaways from the 12 Days of Fitness Challenge

As I wrote in my guest post for the American Heart Association’s #BreakUpWithSalt initiative, about six in ten caregivers in a national survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving reported that their eating (63%) and exercising (58%) habits are worse than before. I am among those six in ten.

When I stopped running in early October because my rapid heart rate kept breaking through despite taking a beta blocker before exercising, I stopped other exercise activities too. The “reasons” mushroomed easily: once my son was able to drive himself, he was able to stay out after school finished, hanging out with his friends (or whatever). Going to an early morning class so that I could be home before my husband left for work involved an early wakeup that felt increasingly impossible to do. I was embarrassed about my weight gain.

Then the 12 Days of Fitness Challenge happened.

In December, BA Fitness posted on their Facebook page that there would be a “12 Days of Fitness” challenge. The challenge was set to begin the next day, so I had to make a quick decision regarding whether I was “in” or not. I decided! I was in! The basics: Do 12 classes within an abbreviated period of time (15 days). Don’t miss any classes you signed up for (or the clock would start over). In return? More fitness and a lovely custom workout towel (plus a chance to be entered in a drawing for free classes and other goodies.

Fitness Goals

Fast forward to the end. I *did* earn my towel (yay) and gathered a few insights along the way:

Why A Challenge Made a Difference

The Towel

Having done many efforts such as Relay for Life and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, I have always been *amazed* at how hard people will work to earn a tshirt that may cost $5 to make. How many hundreds and thousands of dollars they’ll raise. That was me with the reward towel. Granted, it was exclusive to participants of the challenge who met the 12-class minimum, but in the end it was “just a towel.” But I wanted it! Like Joe, the swag was calling my name!

Fitness GoalsThe Finite Time Line

Because the Challenge had a specific begin and end date, I had to fit my 12 classes in within a specified period of time. That short-circuited any “I’ll get to it eventually” thoughts in my head and made me overcome barriers I had been allowing to stop me from showing up.

Detailed, Transparent Updates

The challenge scoreboard was posted on Facebook at least once a day. Why did that matter? For starters, we could see each other’s progress? A perfect recipe for lots of support sharing (and a tiny quantity of good natured prods (as in, I’m getting up at 4:30 am to make the 5 am class — you can too, friend!)). Since the towels were limited to the first 25 people to complete the challenge, seeing a line of people ahead of us who were closer to hitting the 12-class mark than we were was motivation to step up our efforts and get our butts to class.

Accountability Matters

I had gotten out of touch with the fact that the best thing people and fitness lovers can do for one another is hold each other accountable. I stopped being on “active status” with my team (although my incredible coach still goes way above and beyond to track my workouts). I wasn’t racing so there was no “let’s get some runs in so we are prepared for the next 5K” type activity going on. When I knew my fellow challenge participants would be expecting me in class, and that my NOT going was stealing a spot from someone who needed it (it got pretty hard to find space in classes as the challenge proceeded), I showed up. 

Planning Ahead is Your Friend

Like I mentioned above, as the challenge progressed, it got harder and harder to find space in class. I missed an opportunity to check off one (or two, if I had been willing to do a double) class of my list on a premium Saturday when I actually could go, because I waited too late to sign up. If you have a goal, plan ahead in order to execute it.

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone Is Good

Because I had to take whatever classes were available, I took some classes I would not have traditionally picked. I got to exercise different muscles (literally), meet new people, and explore exercise alternatives I would not have tried before.

Excuses Hurt Only Ourselves

After I had to get carted back to the start area a mile into a walked 5K in October, something in my willpower deflated. Years of consistent exercise (some of those years with rockingly consistent nutrition (some not so much) felt like a waste of time. I know they weren’t a waste of time, but I was feeling sorry for myself. I was afraid to work out in the event my tachycardia acted up, afraid I would “cause a problem” for the staff or fellow students at the studio if I had an episode, just AFRAID.

Thanks to the challenge, though, for all the morning classes I did as part of a challenge, I drank only decaf before class, took my beta blocker, tried not to feel self conscious about bedhead or wearing colors that didn’t match, and DID IT. If I felt like something was pushing me too hard, I took a break. It was hard to stop worrying about what others thought (lazy/out of shape/unmotivated) but it was an important reminder that not everyone knows our stories.

THE HAPPY ENDING

Yes, I got the towel. More importantly, I got the push I needed to look those excuses, the extra pounds, the logistical challenges, and the health issues in the face and recommit to taking care of myself.

Fitness Goals

My bedhead and I earned my towel after my 12th class, an Indorow class. Pictured here with David Griffin, instructor.

Looks like I am going to need a few MORE towels.

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Going the Distance

Children RunningYesterday, Wayne Kevin and I ran the Women’s Distance Festival race in Indianhead Acres. I was really happy to run my second sub-39:00 race in twelve days, and Wayne had a good mile run as well.

My original draft for this blog talked about one of the main topics of curiosity on Wayne’s part when he started running the 1 mile in this race in 2006 — why are the street names so funny? (We always park on Kolopakin Nene, which apparently is an authentically Seminole way of saying “Seventh Trail.”). I learned that the original developers wanted to name Jim Lee Trail “Humpin Nene”! Some ideas are better left not implemented.
Back to original programming ……
After the 5K, I helped set out the prizes for the one mile run – TOYS!!! After the kids finish their run, they are called up in the order of their finish to choose a toy as their reward. Here was the loot freshly arrayed:

Children Running And here is the loot surrounded by the excited kids as they awaited the 1 mile awards:
Children Running
Between taking picture #1 and picture #2, I watched all the kids finish the race. The most dramatic moment of the entire day was this neck-and-neck finish between Lily and Austin, who finished within .29 seconds of each other:

Children Running I don’t know the full backstory of why these two 7 year olds were so bound and determined to prevail over each other. The finish was right up there with one of Michael Phelps’s oh-so-close finishes in the Beijing Olympics.

What I do know is that no toy in the world will bring out the tenacity I saw in these two young people yesterday. It comes from somewhere else deeper in the soul.

Each child got a goodie bag yesterday in addition to their toy of choice. (They could also choose a trophy instead of a toy). These rewards for getting up early, running a mile, and pitting yourself against your goal of choice: beating your most recent “best” time, beating a worthy competitor, earning “grand prix” points, or just finishing the race, are important incentives to get kids out to our races and integrated into the world of running.
Lily’s and Austin’s toys, along with all of the other ones earned yesterday, won’t last forever. But that building block of “I can do this” is no child’s play —- it will “go the distance” of a lifetime.

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.