Is “bounceability” present in your workplace?

On a day when facebook has just lost 9.6 percent off its share price from US$34 to US$28.84 and Julia Gillard has bounced in the Polls to recover by 3 points, a personal friend’s wife has left him, and sickness had laid my wonderful team at half mast, I am drawn to the philosophy of Sam Cawthorn and his theme on ”Bounceability” – check out his website or this YouTube clip.

Since meeting Sam a few years ago on the referral of a mutual friend, his bright outlook on life and theme of Bounce Therapy or Bounceability has become part of the vocabulary and work culture at Taurus. It has even become my son’s retort to me if something goes wrong from dropping or burning something in the oven to something more catastrophic! “Bounceability Mum” is what he says with a wry smile on his face. It always makes me smile back and the tension subside.

Sam walked into my office with a bright silver artificial arm – I mean bright silver. It was pretty unnerving – something like the character in Star Wars – the walking man C3P0. My son, who had just popped in with his school mates thought Sam was the most awesome thing he’d ever seen.

Sam’s story? He was involved in a car accident and nearly died. He lost an arm and was left with a severely disabled leg which forced him to re-think the “it will never happen to me attitude” on multiple levels – as a Father, husband, a son, brother and perhaps most poignantly as a provider to his young family. Despite all that, Sam now leads an even busier life, travelling the world giving motivational talks to thousands, raising three kids, writing a book, and playing the guitar with his motorised arm. Perhaps it has something to do with being one of 11 siblings.

Although one of the first things that strike you about Sam is no doubt his arm, a close second is his infectious enthusiasm and positivity. He exudes positivity, a “nothing is too much” attitude and he leaves you feeling – well, lifted.

In business, as in life, we can all do with people around us who are positive. What is it like in your place? Do the people around you give off energy or drain it from you? Do you work with those who leave you on a high or leave you feeling exhausted and lacking in confidence. Energy suckers are everywhere. Fortunately, they’ve never been too prevalent in my life!

Surrounding yourself with positive and encouraging people should be a conscious thing. My current team at the office buoy me each day. We don’t have a down moment that isn’t shared and (without living in each others pockets) we are a tight team because of it.

Being resilient and adaptable are important qualities in a leader and contribute to Bounceability. As a colleague of mine Richard Hewson, Executive Coach at Hewsons adds, “Many of us know that when we ‘see’ things in a different light it impacts on how we respond. For example Sam could ‘see’ his accident in many different ways – “losing my arm is a disaster and my life now will never amount to much or “how can I capitalise on the many capabilities I still have”. Neither view is correct or wrong, it’s just a view. How we ‘see’ things determines our response – our behaviours and actions. If we can be responsible for how we see things and understand it is our interpretation [not necessarily right or wrong or the ‘truth’] then it creates choice on how we interpret things. When we interpret it in a positive way, we have Bounceability.”

So what if your team isn’t positive, resilient or adaptable? What if you have an energy sucking boss, or one team member who is just as miserable as hell, all the time. As a leader it’s up to us to buoy others, no matter how we are feeling. Here are some tips:

• Talk as openly and honestly as you can with each other

• Talk about bounceability and its implications

• Ask lots of questions of people to understand where they are – use the 2 ears, 1 mouth principle

• Find out what makes people tick – what’s important to them money, time out, gym, travel?

• Teach people to be happy – it is possible

• Encourage open communication in a safe environment

• Discuss half daily, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals

• Get people educated and trained on time management

• Take time out to laugh

In business as in life we can all do with positive people around us. It helps you see life’s obstacles in a different light and helps overcome adversity. After all, we only have one life!

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