By Friday afternoon, most employees were simply exhausted. A week of constant interruptions and emergency meetings for this crisis or that crisis occurred regularly. I liken these moments to ‘interventions’ hoping to salvage what’s left anything good.
A coworker handed me a resume of a potential applicant he thought would fit.
“Hey.” He called, handing me a resume. “HR thought this person might be a good fit.“
I glanced quickly and winked, “Nah.“
“Huh? Why not?“
“Well, when an employment application asks who is to be notified in case of emergency, in this operation, they need to write, ‘A very good doctor.’”
I seriously didn’t deny the applicant. I merely requested the application and resume be placed on my desk for review.
Krista Tippett noted humor lifts us, but underscores what’s already great; our connection with others. And like everything meaningful, it’s complex and nuanced — it can be fortifying or damaging, depending on how we wield it. But as a tool for survival, humor is elemental. Much like the Buddha, laughter is a powerful medium for communicating the unsettling truths in life.
For instance, when I was six years old and my brother was seven, we were in the backyard of our Schaumburg, IL home playing war. My brother was in the third branch of a Weeping Willow Tree, with all his G.I. Joe soldiers and weaponry. On the ground was my band of mercenaries, align and prepared for an elongated siege.
Without warning, I ran to the garage and emerged momentarily with a lighted M-80 Cherry Bomb and badminton racquet. With the flick of the racquet, the M-80 soared high into the bright blue sky. A second or two later, “KABOOM!” And simultaneous with the sound, a puff of leaves, half the Weeping Willow Tree, including my brother and army tumbled down.
Sipping ice tea from a porch chair, my father squinted. In momentary disbelief, he glared.
“What happened to the Willow Tree?” he pointed.
In usual kid refrain, “I don’t know.“
Sternly, he looked at my brother and I, “WHAT happened to the Willow Tree?”
“Well,” I said, “We trimmed it for you.“
I don’t believe my father ever learned I launched and detonated an M-80 into his Willow Tree. But as a professional manager, I cannot tell you how many times laughter has connected me with all different kinds of people throughout the country, of all kinds of political persuasions. And I honestly think that out of laughter, comes love.
And as a manager, friend, and son I found that no matter how happy people are with the success of getting a great job, we get consumed by the competition, the workload, the hassles, stresses, complaints. Yet, if I can laugh with you and we can see a commonality in humor, I can see you, and I can respect you, and I can love you.
During a recent one-on-one session with an employee, I commented that society needs to laugh more.
“How will we accomplish that?” he asked.
“Drink tea. It nourishes life.”
“Through every sip.”
A wave of confusion circled him.
“With the first sip… joy. With the second… satisfaction. With the third, peace. With the fourth, a Boston Eclair.”
He smiled approvingly.
Laughter is essential.