Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Spirit of Cooperation

So, over at StudySuccessful.com, they're giving away some HP computers. Regular readers will know that I'm obsessed with trying to win a laptop or netbook, and here's my chance to win both and shut up about it.

For my chance to win, StudySuccessful wants to hear about a great cooperative experience in my academic career and something that went terribly wrong. Many of my experiences working with people in school went pretty well (except for the evil girls in middle school science, but there's nothing positive in that story). The best example for the purposes of this story was "Of Thee I Sing." That's a musical that the University of West Florida theatre department put on in the fall of 1984. I had a couple of lines and the rest of the time I was in the chorus. The "star" of the show was Edd "Kookie" Byrnes, but he only rehearsed with us the last week or so. But I digress. The great spirit of cooperation was within the cast. A lot of us were in theatre classes together. This was about the third show I'd ever done in my life (not counting the Christmas play in elementary school where my big part was ripping off bits of fake fiber snow and throwing snowballs), so it was all very new to me. The director was kind of crazy or at least forgetful; I remember one of the actors standing up to him when the director was yelling at us for not doing what he wanted because he had changed his mind and forgot to tell us. During rehearsals my friend Michelle gave me a great piece of advice. She said, "No matter what happens, just keep smiling," a piece of advice that I had to use on this particular show, because something did go terribly wrong.

I had a quick change backstage, and somehow the button on my sleeve got caught in a hairpin or something, and it took me a minute to extricate myself and pull my clothes on. By that time, the dance number had started and I wasn't in place. All the guys had partners except Bob the actor, who left dancing alone and wondering where I was. Michelle was backstage (she wasn't in this number) and I whispered, "What do I do?"

"Get out there and keep smiling!"

So, I put on a big smile and sashayed across the stage and joined the dance. I wonder sometimes if the audience knew what had happened or if they thought it was just part of the number.

Working on a big musical like that is a great experience in teamwork. Everyone relies on everyone else doing what they are supposed to do, being in the right place at the right time, for everything to go smoothly. When something goes wrong, you have to help each other out to get things back on track. To work together successfully on any project, you have to fulfill your duties, and when something goes wrong, you can't just point the finger at someone else, you have to step up with help or solutions or just part of the problem.

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