One of the many phrases that I learned from my sales representative position with Vivint was “Snapping necks and cashing checks.” In an attempt to make us more team oriented our office chose a catch phrase of “teamwork makes the dream work.” Ironically the job was pretty far from being remotely linked to teamwork. There wasn’t really support for newer workers, and there were so many bugs in the system that I’d be surprised if 3/4 of the original offices still exist. However, this job was probably one of the most influential in shaping the way I interact with people.
During this New Years weekend, I went with five good friends to Bear Valley which is just east of Stockton. It was a fun trip that coincidentally also taught me a great lesson about teamwork. While some would consider being stuck in an icy driveway, lacking certain ingredients for the planned dinner, trying to play the pentecost version of a team board game called Flashpoint, and unceremoniously rolling down a mountain of packed snow, ingredients for a terrible day, it stood out to me as simply a lesson in the importance of community.
Our greatest trial that we faced as a group was attempting to get Josh’s Toyota Tacoma out of an inclined driveway…. backwards. We live in California and therefore we are what some would label snow idiots because we had snow idea how to act in the snow. Josh’s truck has four wheel drive: when it’s going forward. However, the night before, we parked his car facing downhill towards the garage without thinking about how we were going to get it out. The next morning after we were all fed and semi-prepared for snowboarding from watching some youtube videos on how to “heel-toe,” we walked outside and waited as Josh backed his car out of the driveway…
Except it didn’t move out of the driveway. Apparently the driveway had iced over and his tires could not gain traction. He was hydroplaning while stationary. We tried pushing his truck. That didn’t work so well. We tried pushing it while he floored it. That also did not work so well. That’s when we grabbed some shovels and started channeling our inner survivalists.
While there was snow on most of the driveway, we reasoned that we only needed to clear the tracks for the tires so that the tires could utilize friction to grip the road and actually move. What ensued was an assembly line of sorts. Try to imagine this:
Jeremy (6’3, skinny guy who was an eagle scout), and myself using shovels with metal heads to either dig or “makeshift-pick-axe” our way through the ice.
Melissa (the event organizer), Christiana (the most resourceful), and Linda (the most athletic MVP to ever live) followed us with plastic headed shovels to clear the shaved snow that Jeremy and I were creating.
We repeated the push and floor it scenario from before and got about three inches before the same scenario repeated itself.
So then we decided to stop playing around and bring the fight to the ice. The ladies went inside and got pots of hot water along with salt shakers and began to generously spread our DIY ice melting concoction on the path where the truck needed to go while Jeremy and I went berserker mode swinging shovels like we were the dwarves from Snow White or Zoolander’s brothers.
Even with these new tools and the renewed energy we found, we still attempted to push and failed many many times to get the car out of the driveway.
In many ways it was a mundane task. We kept failing. What we did was working, but it just wasn’t working enough. Each time we failed, we would have to go back and hack away a little more ice to try again.
Somewhere along the way, when Christiana, Jeremy, Josh, Linda, Melissa, and I were pushing/driving that truck all together, I thought about how ridiculous of a situation we were in, and how we legitimately needed every person there to get us out of that mess.
When we finally got out, it wasn’t with energy to spare. We literally pushed until we fell, and then got up and pushed some more. I thought to myself, about how if I was alone, I probably would have just given up and gone back inside the house. If it was just Josh and I, I would have just been bossy and we would have been counter-productive. Without Melissa we wouldn’t have had access to the shovels and tools we needed to break the ice. Without Christiana we wouldn’t have been able to administer the water and salt quickly enough to prevent the refreezing of the ice. Without Linda’s extra strength we would not have been able to push the car with enough momentum to clear the driveway.
We all brought something to the table and because we were all in it together, despair was not an option.
Because we didn’t give up we were able to hit the slopes that day and show off our mad snowboarding skills (or the lack thereof).
Oftentimes, when we face adversity, we stir up conflict and division and become counter-productive and we only succeed in repeating how dire and terrible the situation is. I’m not saying that every problem is solvable and that positive thinking is the only way to reach solutions, however I do think there is something to be said about the importance of focusing on using each of our gifts, talents, and skills corporately to solve the problems that we face instead of antagonizing each other.
We can make the world a better place together.