My kids, and now my grandkids never fail to amaze me. Here is another example. When we were at my daughter Katie’s house last week, they had a Wii Sports set up on one of their TV’s. Grandson Thomas, who is 4 ½ years old, and the oldest of my 5 grandsons, was anxious to show me how it works. We spent time together as he showed me how he boxes, bowls, plays tennis, golf and baseball. He was the most anxious to show me the baseball part of the game.
In this particular game, the object was to swing the Wii remote like a baseball bat, hitting the “pitches” in play. It didn’t matter how far you hit them, just as long as they were fair balls. The goal was to hit as many of the 30 pitches in play as possible. Thomas stepped up to the imaginary home plate and took his turn swatting at the computer generated images. To my surprise, he was able to hit 16 the first time he tried. The second time around he hit 18 pitches and declared the he just set the record! At least it was the record for his house. Then he looked at me and said “your turn grandpa”.
I had played this game before but it had been many years. The computer generated pitcher wound up and threw a relatively slow fast ball right down the middle of the plate for me to hit. I swung the remote, fully expecting to hit a home run, and only hit a foul ball. There wasn’t much time between that pitch and the next one so I got ready to swing again. This time a hit! Thomas was excited and told me I did a good job. Pitch after electronic pitch came my way. Some I hit fair, some I hit foul and I missed a couple. When I looked up at the score, I was at 16 hits with 8 pitches remaining.
Now I was faced with a dilemma, do I deliberately miss most of the rest of the pitches and let Thomas keep the record? Or do I try to break the record and potentially break his 4 ½ year old heart? Those of you who know me know that I am competitive by nature. The neurons in my brain are programmed to try to win, and Thomas is competitive, just like me. I fouled off the next pitch which gave me a little more time to decide. Next pitch a hit, followed by another hit. Thomas was watching intently and yelled that I tied the record. He was excited for me! Decision made, and I ended up with 20 hits, setting the house record.
Thomas was very excited, and wanted me to try it again to see if I could break the record again. Contrary to how I probably would have reacted, he was not sad that I broke his record, he was excited. That got me thinking. How excited are we when other people in our company do well, or break our records? Are we excited like Thomas, or are we jealous? How do we celebrate those accomplishments, without diminishing the efforts of everyone else? I am certainly not advocating participation trophies, but there is a way to reward and inspire everyone, regardless if they broke the record, but especially when they break the record.
Part of our job as owners and managers of small businesses is to find ways to inspire and reward. I have found that individual conversations work best, along with public celebrations. In the meantime, I am anxious to play the other Wii games with Thomas and the rest of the grandkids, cheering for each victory, regardless of who wins.