This happened yesterday – We settled down for a discussion first thing in the morning and a colleague says- smile guys, its a good day!
But, it was a spirited discussion . And the smiles quickly vanished.
We shared our views and debated. And I realised I was talking with a lot of emotional energy.
I told myself, its ok – because I am committed and passionate about this. But there was clearly another voice telling me – its not ok.
And then something interesting happened later in the evening.
I was reading Pegasus Bridge June 6 1944 – By Stephen Ambrose and came across a section where it talked about the front in North Africa.
In particular the book was introducing Hans von Luck – a protege of Rommel – who agreed with his British counterpart to fight a civilised war.
Every evening at 5 p.m. the war would stop. The Brits would break for tea and the Germans for coffee. They would then get on the radio and share the details of captured personnel and any messages these POWs may have for their families – usually messages confirming that they were ok.
In one particular instance, the Germans learnt that the Brits had got a fresh supply of cigarettes. Von Luck offered to trade a captured British officer for a million cigarettes. The British countered with 600K. And a deal was stuck.
But the prisoner refused to be exchanged because he insisted he was worth the million initially asked for !!
I was shocked !
These are men at war. They are willing to kill and die. Yet they manage to keep humour and civility intact.
I am lucky to have read about this incident the same evening I was telling myself its ok to lose my cool. It has helped put things in perspective.
I went back to my colleague and shared this story. Thanked him for opening the meeting with a request to smile.
He has decided to make sure that every meeting he attends, he would put smile(s) as the first agenda item.
And I am inspired to go a step further. To keep humor intact at the workplace – the place where we spend most of our waking hours does not need to be such a serious place.