A few weeks back I was participating in a work team building activity. You probably know the type – 5 people who are mostly recently acquainted have to work together to solve some problem. In our case we had to build a car out of PVC pipes, 4 wheels, a handful of balloons and a rubber box. All seemed to be going fairly smoothly as we went through iterations of a design up until the moment we all heard a *crack*.
Looking back it feels as if we all slowly turned to look at the man with the hammer in his hands. As one we realized that one of our four wheels had just broken and was laying in pieces on the ground. It could have happened to any team I suppose. We were trying to remove the wheel from one piece and put it into another. It got a bit stuck and the hammer seemed a wonderful way of prying it loose. It certainly came loose.
As you can imagine, having only three wheels available for use when building a PVC car that a person has to ride is a clear handicap. The situation occurred to us that we had suddenly lost all ability to really compete. But there was something amazing about this particular group – it was only about 5 seconds before we got right back to work trying to find a solution to this new problem. There was no complaining, no whining, no hopelessness. We all just started trying to figure out a solution that could work with just three wheels.
It was quite the contraption but we ultimately put together a surfboard style approach with a person standing above two wheel while being pushed sideways with the third wheel offering some stability. Amazingly we almost made it through the entire course with no issues and at a surprisingly quick pace. We had an oustide chance of actually pulling off a victory simply because we didn’t quit when the opportunity to do so presented itself.
That’s the best lesson to me – even when given a perfect opportunity to quit and hand something in incomplete don’t take it. If you don’t get a solution even after giving it your best effort then so be it. But to quit in the face of adversity is to underestimate your potential. The best comebacks are all based on extreme adversity. People remember those who come back from long odds, the don’t often remember when the favorite wins as expected. Never give up because losing when you are supposed to is nothing to hand your head at – but winning when you didn’t have a chance never leaves you.