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It's a We Thing

I’m knee-deep in rehearing for the musical Mary Poppins.

If you’ve ever been in a musical you know that feeling of, “Will this ever really work?”

Initially…. rehearsal time is divided between learning music in one room and choreography in another. The real challenge (happening now) comes when you begin putting those two things together.

And then, in a few weeks… costumes, set pieces, lighting and an orchestra will be added to the mix.

It would be mind-blowing if you could film a slow-motion video of all of this “pre-work” leading up to opening night.

Seriously, you’d have to see it to believe it.

And if you could hear the lyrics that are on loop mode in my brain at all hours of the day (and night) you might wonder why anyone would want to do something like this that requires such a significant amount of time, an incredible amount of effort and pays… exactly nothing in terms of cash in hand.

I’m sure different people do it for different reasons… but for me, it’s my “team sport.”

It has everything to do with having an experience where “WE” is SO much bigger than me.

You know… that thing that you simply can’t have or do all by yourself.

When you peel back the layers of this particular sport… there are so many who contribute to making the magic happen; set designers, lighting engineers, directors, choreographers, publicity, family member who support …. all pulling together.

In many ways its like we have our own “company” for a few months and we’re tasked with producing this massive product that requires a plethora of personalities, skills and perseverance.

Perhaps the biggest challenge of all?

The majority of this company is volunteers.

Which means… there’s really no “carrot and stick,” so the directors have to rely on casting great people who they believe will show up, listen up and shell out their best.

On a mentoring call with John Maxwell the other day he talked about the challenges of working with millennials.

A statistic new to me was that by the year 2020 half of the population will be… millennials. He went on to share that a recent Gallup poll stated these folks are the least engaged generation at work; a whopping 71 percent.

Doing the math on the loss of energy and money around that statistic is mind-blowing.

Whoa… what in the world does that have to do with Mary Poppins?!

Hang on, I’ll get there.

If nearly three-quarters of the working population isn’t engaged in what they’re doing… something has to change.

The work culture of the past generations focused on:

· a paycheck

· job satisfaction

· having (and someday being) a boss

· performing well on an annual review

· addressing weaknesses

· having a good job

The millennial work culture is focused on:

· having a purpose

· personal development

· having (and someday being) a coach

· ongoing conversations of affirmation

· celebrating strengths

· having a good life

What worked in a company even a decade ago… isn’t cutting it.

Finding and keeping good people who are dedicated to pulling together to create the “magic” in a company requires people who understand that leading in this new era is a lot more like directing a cast full of volunteers than it is command and control!

In a musical you can have the most talented leads imaginable…but without a strong chorus, a great set, fabulous lights and an audience…. you don’t have a show.

From where I sit, as a chorus member playing various roles from chimney sweep to bank teller to mom in the park, the purpose I derive from my role has nothing to do with my titles and everything to do with how I contribute to the whole.

John said he decided he’s a 71-year-old millennial because when it comes to a work culture, he wants what they want.

For the next six weeks I’ll be singing, dancing, feeling valued, included and empowered to be my best as I work alongside others creating an incredible experience for myself, the entire “company” and the audience.

My sense is… that’s a pretty apt description of the work culture millennials want.

Yes, part of it is a “me” thing…. but it’s much more a “we” thing.

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