S02E01 The First (False) Start

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Coach was devastated… “It’s not possible,” he thought. It was then, near the peak, it struck him like a lightning bolt: “It was all my fault.”

Well, my dears, maybe it’s better to start from the beginning. I am in the garden, watering the next crop of our experimental plants. There are many people here in the Playground, who are in love with Nature and excited about trying new ways of growing plants. We have a huge experimental garden that looks really cool and futuristic. We are growing many happy plants and our results (no fertilizers, mind you) puzzles agricultural specialists around the world. I’ve heard them say one and the same phrase like 1,000 times: “It’s not possible.” It turns out impossible is our company’s middle name.

Our personal home growing plant machine will be tested one last time and soon will be on the market. Get one and never go to the groceries to buy vegetables again. Sorry for the digression. J

So, I am watering the garden with hydrogen-rich water when I saw Coach sleeping in one of the hammocks, loudly snoring. Trying to be quiet, I tiptoe. Bang, … ooops. I stumble on a metal bucket and find myself lying facedown. I feel like a bull in a china shop.

Coach jumps like a cat chasing a mouse and lands right in front of me. He helps me get up, desperately trying to keep a straight face. Then we both burst into laugher.

“Are you OK?”

“Yeah. Sorry, coach.”

“Aaaah, no need to apologize. Thank you for this exercise. Now I feel full of energy,” he says, still laughing.

I feel it was the right time to ask him about the beginning… before the beginning. We all knew that he had had a false start with the Workplace as a Playground project and I never summoned up the courage to ask him what exactly had happened.

“Oh, this story,” he smiles a little absentmindedly. “That’s why you woke me up with such a bang,” he winks at me and his smile broadens.

“Boy, what a failure it was – spectacular, or as you often say – epic. Well, you know, the idea of WAP had been born several months before I decided to develop it. Then I wasn’t as wise and experienced as I’m now,” coach winked again mischievously.

“We were around 9 people back then, very enthusiastic. We wanted to change the world, not knowing that the change must come from within individuals, not from outside. If you change yourself (like for realz, I mean), the world around you changes respectively. Such changes are subtle and take some time, of course. That’s why many people never notice the fine mechanics of changes in the world. One day they just woke up and see a completely different world.”

So we launched our WAP project without really being ready to do it. We made tremendous efforts to succeed and pushed it to the extremes. We thought that the more we did, the more we would get done. How naïve! We rented an office in the city, transformed it into a small playground and I gave absolute freedom to all people working with me.”

„More freedom than we have now! If this is possible…”

„Well, to be honest, more freedom but no framework, no tools to exercise it and no strategy to maintain it. I told them to do anything they want. The beginning was euphoric. We even planned our new office. Everybody was excited and doing their best… well, for the first several weeks at least.

Then people slowly started to lose motivation. I didn’t know what was going on, so I gave them even more freedom; I told them not to come to the office if they didn’t want and that they could do whatever they wanted.

Much to my surprise, things got worse. People gradually stopped coming to the office, or when they did, their minds wandered elsewhere. I was extremely busy and didn’t notice this till it was too late. One day, I went to the office and found a note: “We quit. This experiment of yours is obviously not working.”

I was devastated. My whole world sank. I blamed my employees for being ungrateful. I felt abandoned and deceived. I thought: “How could they not be ready? It’s not possible.”

I also left the office. I went on a long journey around the world. After a while, my mind calmed. I started thinking that the world was a reflection of my inner being, so whatever happened might have been my responsibility.

And then, one day while I was climbing Masherbrum peak, it struck me like a million bolts of lightning. It was MY fault after all! I had given people freedom but offered them no advice how to use it and cope with it. No guidance how to discover and utilize their talents. No meaningful purpose. No final destination.

When I came back, I reached out to everyone from the team. I told them that it was my fault and begged them to forgive me. I asked them to start fresh. Only half of them agreed; the rest were hesitant. In three months, all of them were back. This time I knew how to do it.

We built our Workplace as a Playground the right way.”

Coach sighs and smiles.

“I’ve heard that you run faster these days,” he says. “But I bet you won’t outrun me. Let’s race to that tree over there. On three. One…”

“Well, coach, you are gonna lose this time,” I say as he continues to count.

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