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How A Pack Can Have Your Back

April 1, 2010

The Olympic stadium seats at Whistler Creekside were hard on my backside. I have the butt cheek creases to prove it. Uncomfortable and overcast, we needed a ‘made in British Columbia’ miracle. We got one.  The sky opened, the sun shone; we would be able to see the Paralympians ski the Giant Slalom.

Before us, a group of ‘All Blacks’ were frantically taping New Zealand flags to every surface available. Adam Hall’s peeps, mom, dad, and a gang larger than Al Capone’s were jittery with anticipation or jet leg, it was hard to tell which. I watched the women then the men race. Seeing Paralympians ski is like having your ‘no can do’ attitude hit by a ‘go for it’ avalanche. Witnessing someone with no arms ski, fall and  stop themselves with their head, then get up and get going makes you ask ‘what am I doing with what I’ve got?’

Adam Hall was born with spina bifida, he has limbs but his spine doesn’t back them up. Tell that to the clock. He won his first race by five seconds, which is insanely amazing. I watched his mom crumple into a barely breathing, trying not to sob, quivering, texting momma. Adam wiped out on his second run.  He still won gold. Why?  He obviously trained hard, champions do, but I saw something more. He had the power of a pack. Family and friends left their dairy farm in Outram on the Tairei Plains to fly 11,000+ kms to be there for him. Dressed up, flags up and temporary tattoos everywhere, these Kiwis loved him big.

‘Being there’ for someone is powerful. It’s the 1 + 1 equals 11 phenomenon I saw at work Monday night.  I led a brandstorming exercise for a client who has Trump-like business skills but way better hair. To find a new brand framework that would work for all four of his businesses, I asked him to gather his pack (clients who became friends and people who adore him.)

My client doubted we would find anything. He’s smart and he had been trying for a while. But I side with Les Brown who said, “You can’t see the picture when you are in the frame.” There are times we can’t be successful if we continue to work alone. Some problems are one genius problems, others are pack problems. We need company. We need it for the comic relief and for the inspiration. Same old, same old gives us same and old.

Creativity thrives with generous people, good music and a light-hearted approach. (The beer and pizza didn’t hurt, though after two sips I stopped. I never could drink, think and lead, so much for a career in politics). A pack gives us the disco ball effect. Many people mirroring back bits of our brilliance gives a brand new perspective. Albert Einstein said it best “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.”

In one hour, I trained seven brains and we got the brand. The pack was, like Adam’s, there for him. A mix of individual persistence and collective support brought home different kinds of gold for two determined good guys.

P.S. Adam’s site is http://www.kiwiskiracer.com/

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Louise B. Karch