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Have A Sense Of Humor

While working on an important global project this week, I was personally challenged by some of the attitudes of our team. The project is complex, and when solved for will have a significant impact on people and the planet. It is definitely worth the effort and that’s why I was irritated that we weren’t making the progress we should be.

It was challenging because some team members started getting granular, and this granular thought process was basically keeping us from really visualizing what we could potentially do. I became angry that we couldn’t seem to get to the “land of possibilities,” because people wanted to jump into the black and white economics within a sea of grey. It was killing the creative spirit.

But I knew that my anger would only make this project more difficult because the more I want everyone to dream big, the more this team is going to resist. Yes, it is obvious that this is the wrong team for this project, but unfortunately, that was not our choice. So, like everyone has to do on occasion, we have to deal with the people that we are assigned.

I was baffled by my own irritation, and apologized to our Innovation Team members for the way the assigned team was acting and the way I was reacting. I knew I had to take action, but I was perplexed as to what to do. The project is a worthy one, and I felt we needed to get over our preoccupation with the minutia to be able to get where we needed to be.

I was walking around my home, mulling things over, and saw some Angel Cards lying on a table. These are cards that you can shuffle and then pick a card, and it gives you a message or insights from your angels. So, I thought, why not? I am baffled and perplexed. I need all the help I can get. So I shuffled the cards and pulled one out. It said, “Have a sense of humor.” Then I said, “Wow! What do I do with that?” I pretty much forgot about it and went about my day, which was leading up to a call with the Innovation Team.

My Code Blue partners, Paul and Jeff, where already on the call when I joined and the first words I heard where “unit economics.” Just hearing those two words started to make my blood boil. I said, “That is hysterical! How can you have unit economics on a concept that is being developed? This is so ridiculous!” Then it hit me… Yup! Have a sense of humor.

I thought, really?! A sense of humor? So I tried, for the rest of the call, to just stay light and airy, not really challenging or jumping in —because now, it really did seem funny. Not sure why, but it was humorous. At least, now that I had embraced the paradigm, “have a sense of humor,” I could deal with the situation in a different way.

As soon as the call was over, I did an inventory of any negativity that was still trying to stick and made a mental decision to shake it off. Then I called the Co-CEO that we were to report to on this particular global project and left a message. He called me back later that evening, asking what’s up and I basically told him that his people where almost comical, because they wanted black and white answers in a sea of grey, and that innovations must not be taught at Harvard and Stanford. We both laughed, and he agreed to set up a meeting, and that he would take the lead.

Which brings me to the reason for this blog today, which is that this meeting is tomorrow. YEAH! What I learned here is that you always have to have a sense of humor. Remember to look at all circumstances and challenges you face on the stage of life with a comical outlook. In fact, could it really be that every moment is like Saturday Night Live?

Then, I reflected on how I was really challenged with what to do with that message when, on Saturday morning I went on a hike. I was listening to a book written about the Dali Lama’s message titled, A Force for Good. The passage that caught my attention said that the real reason the Dali Lama (paraphrasing in my own words here) laughs so much is because he feels compassion for everyone, and when compassionate for the people around you everyday, you would never think anything but positive, loving and, yes, comical thoughts.

So, are you in a challenging situation at work or in life? Can you change your thinking to see the comical side of your situation? Or can you find a deep sense of compassion for the individuals involved so that you laugh instead of getting angry?

Now, believe me, I am in new territory here, too. In fact, I am really writing this blog so I can use my sense of humor and compassion as new business tools, and incorporate these firmly into my psyche before this intense two-day meeting that is coming up. Whoa, Nellie! Who would have thought that a sense of humor could replace anger or that anger could be replaced with compassion for the very people you are upset with.

Could this be real? Am I going crazy? Well, guess we will all find out. I would really love for anyone reading this to try it and tell me how it goes. I will follow up late next week to tell you how it goes for me.

So one final thought… Just like you can’t get black and white answers in a sea of grey, give the “Sense of Humor” Angel Card and the Dali Lama’s compassion message a chance. Without judgment, or knowing why, or even how it works, just go with it. Because just like I got irritated with the people trying to drill down before we even have the entire project conceived, it will work.

In my mind, Ok, I wonder, how does compassion create humor? I don’t know, but I am going to let it happen in these upcoming meetings, just like it magically did on the call that set up the meeting.

Laugh on—


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