Playground Perspectives: April 2012

As she prepares to celebrate her fourth birthday, Thea is faced with the challenge of determining which of her best friends will be invited to attend the party.

Let's not even talk about whether boys are allowed, or what color icing the cupcakes should have on them!

I exaggerate, but only slightly. It's been amazing to watch from the sidelines as our young child begins to create and navigate relationships, and circles of relationships.

Co ming home from the playground the other day, she and one of her best friends clutched hands as they ran across the field. Inseparable. Beautiful. And subject to change at a moment's notice.

How like our world of work. Except we don't slow down to see the beauty as often as we should...

One of our clients is Bon Secours Virginia, an organization that has invested itself tremendously in the development of its people and its culture. Their partnership with the Gallup Organization is well-known in leadership circles; albeit less-known here in Richmond.

Gallup has found a powerful voice for itself in the development of strong cultures and organizational leadership. Its engagement instruments help organizations measure a set of factors that are key for a highly engaged group of employees (or children, really).

A while back, we spent six months exploring the connection between leadership and engagement with Bon Secours Virginia's top leaders. One of the engagement questions Gallup consistently asks in organizations continued to surface -- Do you have a best friend at work?

As you might imagine, people consistently wrestle with what that question means, and its implications.

Most of us work in environments that hammer home messages about the separation of our work life and our home life - messages about work/life balance, work friends and real friends, leaving our personal issues at home.

Deep down, most of us also know that work is one of the most personal things we will do in our lives.

I had lunch today with two of my best friends at work -- colleagues, mentors and friends, both of them, from my time at Luck Companies. It was through Donald and Bob, in particular, that I discovered the real and important power of emotional relationships in my work. Our ability to engage and make an impact was amplified by our relationships.

Which takes us back to the schoolyard. Thea's school holds an annual Pizza Fun Night (or Pizza! Fun! Night! as Thea and I like to call it). Last year, our three-year-old clung to our knees as Jonathan the Juggler performed to a motley crowd of preschoolers and their parents.

This year, her ability to engage and make an impact was amplified by her relationships. Our girl and her gaggle of best friends were inseparable, and beautiful.

How lucky am I to deliberately blur the lines -- through Floricane -- between my work, my civic engagement and my personal life, between all of my varied relationships? And to have a four-year-old daughter who helps me slow down and see the beauty in each of those friendships?