For many people this is a holy season… a time of reflection and affirmation. This is a short post to respect the tradition
I recently read a post that offered thoughts about the relative impact of words and pictures. The author shared that we now live in a time of expanding possibilities. It’s a time a time when the word can be strengthened and the emotional power significantly increased by our access to the world of video. We laugh, we cry, we respond (and, yes, sometimes cringe) to the images that we encounter.
A few years ago at Fenway Park in Boston, a group of fans not usually known for their gentility, did something remarkable. On a day dedicated to people with special needs, the Red Sox arranged for a young autistic man to sing the national anthem. As those of us who have worked with special needs students know only too well, there are times when not everything goes as planned. When things go south, they can do so in a hurry. This one had disaster written all over it. But then something special happened. Take a look for yourself.
I have used this clip often at the end of presentations to remind participants of the power we all have when we act together. But the more I’ve seen this (and I still need tissues), the more I began to realize just how remarkable this event was. Take another look and this time see if you can notice what happens when the young man begins what could have turned the event to disaster. He loses it and begins to laugh at around :38 and the crowd begins to laugh as well. By :51 he’s well on his way to a train wreck. But by :58 the crowd has somehow come together to save him. Not only do they begin to take over, but around 1:04 the entire crowd adjusts to sing with him. It’s still his day.
How did that happen? How did 37,000+ fans come together spontaneously to do something that special? And for our work, how do we tap into the support, caring, of people who came to our schools to do their best for kids? Can we, as leaders, own the responsibility for making this happen?
Here’s another clip…
A colleague and friend shared this with me recently. In his message he mentioned that his teenage son had shared it with him. Teenagers sharing video clip of rocket launches with their parents… who says the world isn’t changing?
It’s a clip of the successful launch of one of Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets. I found it powerful and moving. Take a look.
The feat was inspiring, but what hit me hardest was the pieces of the clip that showed the workers at SpaceX and their engagement in the moment. I know it’s a promo but I also know you don’t fake the emotion that is captured in the clip… the anxiety, the hope, the celebration.
As usual, I connected it to school and the creation of a learning culture. I thought that even at graduation ceremonies I had rarely witnessed what I was seeing in this clip. And I know that the vast majority of teachers I have encountered in the schools I have visited throughout the country began their work with the same commitment, the same enthusiasm, the same anxiety, the same hopes for success.
Perhaps, as leaders, we need to be able to acknowledge this more often and acknowledge the fact that, while they are not likely to put a woman on Mars, in their work they do something far greater. Each and every day they impact the lives of the kids… kids whom they teach, the kids who see them, the kids who excel, the kids who struggle. Perhaps as leaders we can ask them how we can help them, like the SpaceX crowd, hold onto, recapture, live with the joy of doing something that great.