The Essence of Teamwork and Perseverance
‘’Dinner is over, dinner is over; let’s make our way to the venue for the next session” - these were the words of our facilitators, Jane and Christine, making every effort to get 2016 ANLP participants to the venue of our first exercise after dinner on time. Instructions followed ‘’So when I say ‘bang’ ‘bang’ and I point at you, you bend with your head down and the two people standing next to you on your right and left shoot each other. The first person to do this stays in the game’’. Hmmmm I thought to myself, what is this? I can’t hear a word, thankfully our facilitator clarified with an example which was very helpful. I am not sure if he saw the worried expression on my face! And the game began - name, bang, elimination, name, bang, elimination. I must admit, it was challenging because I was still learning my fellow participant’s names, and coordinating that together with saying ‘bang’ and bending my head down, was both challenging and exciting at the same time.
Then came the ‘’ahaa moment’’: An observation I made was the bonding process taking place with team members encouraging each other and, beginning to learn each other’s names. Another, was the fact that people were coming ’out of their shells and cocoons’ to experience a wonderful evening in a new environment, with new people. This was an activity that not only energized and kept us all bubbly and awake, but also allowed us to start understanding that this course was going to be different – transformational.
The blanket experience
‘’Okay, spread the blanket on the floor, teams 1 and 2, stand on it’’. With all 26 of us standing in two groups on the two blankets, we were instructed to turn the blanket upside down while never allowing any part of any of us to touch the floor around the blanket! “What in the world is this facilitator?” I thought. ‘’It is not possible’’ I heard some participants exclaim. All along, I was visualizing the process, thinking they would not ask us to do something impossible. If it was being asked of us, it must be possible. My team got onto the blanket, made efforts to turn it with some planning and coordination, but we were unsuccessful. The supporting team were watching with smiles of satisfaction on their faces. We tried again, but again we failed. The other team was struggling just like us. Then we were given another set of guidelines - five members could get off the blanket and let the rest of the team solve this puzzle with their input as observers without being allowed to touch those on the blanket. Yippee, I believed that with less people, we would be able to see and plan better. There was still chaos and many suggestions. After two moves from one side of the blanket to the other, I realized the need for one person to bend down onto the blanket and guide the rest. I took up the idea, bent down and guided all members, with some holding onto the others, lifting up of legs and some hopping, we were SUCCESSFUL. The cheers and applause was short lived as we were questioned to prove that we had really turned the blanket. Our excitement was over. Disappointment was written on our faces, and we were to do it again - Oh no! Once again we spread the blanket on the floor, this time showing everyone where we expected the tag to be after it had been turned. We went through the process again, but the tag did not end up where we expected. Hhhmmmm!!!
The Ahaa moment: Communication and perseverance is essential for team work to be successful. Support, planning, coordination, delegation, readiness to serve, respect and loyalty are key components for teams to succeed. In working with people from all walks of life, we should have knowledge on a subject and communicate in ways that enable them understand. In addition, presenting accurate and simple facts, will win others to our side. Carefully listening to instructions, probing for clarification will further aid in achieving results earlier.
My take home message, that I share with you, the reader, is that like the human body, no single part can work alone. United we stand, divided we fall. Together, we can succeed to pursue the African nutrition agenda and succeed in bringing improved health and prosperity to our countries and our continent.