“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” Michael Jordan
I’ve always said that my idea of exercising is “jumping through hoops, jumping to conclusions and pushing my luck!” Last month we saw the movie The Martian. I’ll share the part that’s common knowledge about the story. It is based on a book by Andrew Weir. The plot is about a mission to Mars by NASA (U.S.) and a crew of six astronauts. While they are on Mars, the astronauts encounter bad weather and decide to scrub the remainder of the mission. In the process of gathering final samples of Mars to bring back to Earth, an accident occurs and one of the astronauts named Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon in the movie) is presumed dead. So the rest of the crew heads to Earth for the long journey home. But it turns out that Mark Watney is alive and has to figure out to to survive. Somebody at NASA is watching a monitor and realizes that Watney is alive. I got this next concept more from reading the book than watching the movie. (I was in a hurry to read the book before we saw the movie. If there is a book, I like to read it before I see the movie.) The first couple of chapters are Mark Watney’s adventures and I was totally focused on him and what hoops he was jumping through to survive. (Growing food on a planet where nothing grows!) The next chapter in the book focuses on NASA and their feelings when they find out he’s alive. Somebody asks the question about the crew who is on their return and doesn’t know this information … should they be informed that Watney is alive, etc. To be honest with you, I didn’t even think about NASA and the rest of the crew and their perspective as I was reading the book. I am amazed at Watney’s creativity. That is totally like a stroke! I often say that the day I had my stroke, lots of lives changed significantly. As a stroke survivor, I can tell you about creativity and jumping through hoops! I’m also impressed that through it all Mark Watney has a great sense of humor. You totally get that in the book and from Matt Damon in the movie! I think it’s an important part of the whole story. You not only find yourself rooting for him but smiling as you do so. In the movie as in the book, they talk about the whole world is watching. I love that idea.
Many years ago, Matt and I were part of a group that facilitated workshops where the primary learning tool was a software simulation. One of the courses was a project management simulation and they used the concept of teams as defined by Carl Larsen and Frank LaFasto in their book Teamwork. One thing that has really stayed with me is the notion that successful teams have a clear and elevating goal as the authors point out in the book. We used that idea heaps during the course. Do you remember the movie Hoosiers? It’s a sports movie that tells the true story of a small-town Indiana high school basketball team that wants to win the state championship. While that is their goal, each member had a goal that would make that win mean something significant. I have always remembered that idea of a clear and elevating goal. I would say that has been an important part of the whole journey. It’s a concept that we can have as individuals also.
Now here’s an example of that concept as it relates to a stroke. People tell me that a good friend of theirs had a stroke. They want to do something. The stroke survivor may or may not have a caregiver. They then tell me all they can do is bake a casserole. Should they? Yes! It may just be a casserole to the person making it, but think about the gift of time to the stroke survivor or caregiver. Somebody doesn’t have to decide what to fix, or check if they have the ingredients on hand, nor do they have to prepare it. But the most significant thing is that they were in good and loving thoughts.
Here’s another example. I said we went to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in August, (Here it is December and I’m still talking about the experience.) One evening the Artistic Director of OSF shared with us that they get very good press about the festival and people’s experience. He also went on to say that people have a different mindset when they are there. They acknowledge that they are on vacation. Consequently when they watch the plays, they approach the experience differently than when they see a play at home and thinking about other things in their life. I guess as I think about the idea of jumping through hoops, I think it is about changing our mindset! The whole world is watching — let’s jump through hoops. I would say that qualifies as a clear and elevating goal!