The secret to my success lies within these three words. Without respect, there is no love. Without live, there is no empathy. Without empathy, there is no resilience; no hope. Not everyone can feel empathy for others nor learn vicariously through them. My goal is to know enough about history to not repeat it, and enough about science and faith to avoid the enticement of false hope. We are our worst enemy when it comes to sabotage and subterfuge; being lucky only gets you so far in life, and some things are not meant to be. This view, I expect, will get me through life with a different perspective and from a different angle: kindness is good, compassion is always a wise move.
Joining the MBA program however, meant that we would need to interface with strangers that may not appreciate this way of thinking. These strangers might be driven with zest, ambition and needs based on other values that may encourage them to plow through this experience at full speed, living us in their wake, treading water. The program’s retreat weekend on ethics and how to work and study in teams exercises and lessons should help even the playing field. We were sceptical that this could help homogenize a crew that had banshee/head of the line tendencies.
In our experience, Alpha personalities – such as the ones that go after MBAs and corner offices – don’t have nice reputations when it comes to being patient, inclusive or understanding. They are seen as greedy, rash and even abrasive; bossy and some times mean. Technology geeks and nerds tend to be the opposite, more introverted, reflective and considerate, conscientious and thorough. Having to deal with bossy people would not “float our boat”. We lucked out; our team came to be known as Gentle Alphas.
There is drive, passion and humor in our cohort. Yay! 😎 Many of us wore superhero or TV show shirts, and those who didn’t were not only casual but practical. The forewarning that we were going to have to bond and work as a team from the get go, regardless of our shy and quiet exteriors, helped us put on a very friendly but serious game face. As a team we didn’t want to just win; we wanted to WIN.
Amazingly, our team performed without the screaming, hair pulling, get out of my way, you suck competitive environment that categorizes MBAs and the leaders they become. When we did the Tower of Power exercise, a sugar cube blindfolded stack up builder-instructor game, everyone clapped or awwwd together. No one blamed those who tore down their almost victorious towers because of a clumsy move. Not one single insult or passive aggressive comment was made. The victor took the spoils and shared them with the rest of the group. I felt like I was back in Kindergarten; innocent, happy, and always willing to lend a hand.
What cemented our Gentle Alphas status was the ropes course, the obstacle course seen below:
If someone fell behind, we cheered. If someone was to slow, we waited patiently even when our legs were wobbly and our brows sweaty because of balancing on an extra small platform. In the end of the top most level, of the two available, the 30 ft zip line drop got the best of me. Staring down at the group from up there, my husband by my side, panic set in. They counted down and cheered me on, even when I chose to be lowered instead of pushed off by my spouse. The relief I felt because my team literally gave 0 f’s about having to wait for me to continue onto platform two was energizing. They didn’t judge me. The respected my process and let their best disposition forward.
These people have lived good and hard lives. They were resilient, and so was I, so we bonded over the adversity. Even the second team below us was respectful and kind to their stragglers. It was our own little tower of joy and we conquered it together. Tom, the course instructor, was extremely impressed with us. He hadn’t seen such a cohesive MBA cohort. One that appreciated each others’ empathy, faults, fears, and support. As any proud papa would, he let our professor know that ours had been the only team in his history with the program that got on the beast and plowed ahead with the mission of not leaving anyone behind. We didn’t lose anyone to stress or the fear of heights or to the dread of failure. My flop didn’t invalidate the WIN; I had tamed the beast already and made it down to a triumphant cheer.
BTW, Tom was the one that coined the term “Gentle Alphas”. Leaders with grit, resilience, empathy and respect for each other. Trust earned. Cohesion achieved. All smiles and fraternal laughter. Tough soldiers, bright leaders. A band of brothers that fell in love with each other by the end of the weekend, bonding over free food and classy beverages. He he. 😎😍😅😥🤓
The kids are all right…