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STOMP -- 5 things I learned about teamwork while watching people beat the hell out of trash cans and brooms

I took my 8 year old son to see STOMP while they were in Asheville.

Have you seen STOMP?  It's the most amazing show.  It ranks right up their with Cirque du Soleil.

It is very difficult to classify the show STOMP. It could be put under the heading of theater, dance, music or performance art.

STOMP is performed in theaters, but it is not a play, musical, or opera. It is not theater in the traditional sense of the word. There is no speech, dialogue or plot. However, it does have two characteristics of traditional theater: mime and characterization.

STOMP will make you laugh.  It's a fun show filled with rhythm and percussion of all sorts.

The show in Asheville was 1 hour 45 minutes long and NON STOP (no intermission).  My son was on the edge of his seat the entire time - - fully engaged.  The packed audience gave a long standing ovation at the end.

As I'm watching I'm thinking - - "This is an amazing demonstration of teamwork!"

The top 5 things I learned about teamwork at STOMP:

1. Teamwork takes lots of practice (if you want to play big).

Watch the video clips below and you'll see the cast members of STOMP performing just a couple of the many amazing routines we witnessed in person.  It took the cast members hours and hours of practice to get to this level of proficiency.  They practice before hitting the road for the STOMP tour and they practice during the tour.  Having worked with and observed many a team, I can say with confidence that most teams (business teams) practice VERY little if ever.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  We would never expect to step on the stage in front of a packed theater unless we practiced with intensity and focus and for many days.  And yet, we expect the teams we manage to run well without practicing team skills.  What I'm talking about here is TRAINING and DEVELOPMENT.

2. Teamwork requires pacing.

The video clips I've provided below give a sample of the high energy nature of the show.  However, the performers aren't always exerting an extreme level of energy during the show.  Because the show is non-stop (no intermission) the performers must pace themselves.  There are segments when the routine requires an extreme level of physical output and there are routines that require standing and shaking match boxes.  The ebb and flow of the show allows the performers to pace themselves.  Do you pace yourself?  Does your team pace itself?  When I worked for the YMCA the average "senior director" lasted only 2 years on the job because most burned out.  I met a long-time CEO who worked for the YMCA who spoke at a conference and his message was "pace yourself".  He admitted he wasn't good at pacing himself and had been divorced three times.  Each of his wives told him (pleaded with him) to remember his family and relationships outside of work.  If you can't pace yourself then you won't make it.

3. When everyone is fully committed you can risk more.

I saw an interview with the STOMP cast members and they were asked about the seemingly dangerous nature of some of the routines.  Yes, they said, people can get hurt but they know everyone is fully committed and that makes it easier to trust and thus, risk more. When things move slow (this show doesn't) it's easier to get buy with low trust.  But have you been reading the headlines at Google News?  We don't live in a slow moving world anymore.  Slow = out of business.  If you even want to step on the field of play you better be ready for speed.  The number one ingredient of speed is TRUST.  Have you read (and applied) the lessons from Stephen M.R. Covey's book "The Speed of Trust"?

4. The audience LOVES to watch a high functioning team succeed.

Watching STOMP is totally engaging.  People love to see a group of people in sync.  It reminds us of what we're all capable of.  STOMP wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable if the show was made up of a series of solo performances.  The power of the show comes from the fact that it's a TEAM of people working together in perfect harmony.  Why do the performers receive standing ovations in city after city?  Because they give it all up for the audience and we know it.  But giving your all for the audience is not enough.  It's the fact that all the performers working together as one unit produce a breathtaking show that makes you smile from ear to ear.  If your customers saw the inner workings of your team (business/organization) would it make people smile from ear to ear?

5. The resources we need are all around us.

During the show the performers used a wide variety of every-day items as percussion instruments - - brooms, trash cans, buckets, match boxes, sand, pipes, newspapers, etc.  Can you imagine how these artists view the world?  Everything is an instrument to them!  Opportunities to create music are everywhere!  Now apply this same lesson to your team (business/organization).  Do you see opportunities everywhere?  If you don't, it's not because they don't exist, it's because you can't see them (yet).

Video Clips

I've embeded a video clip below and here are a couple of links to other great routines:

Above NYC hanging and banging

Famous broom rhythm routine


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