Thursday, 15 May 2014

Is Winning Everything?

As young children in the seventees, we had generally been  told, whether at school or at home that winning is not everything.As for eaxample in sports,it was expected that you give your best, play the game fairly and wish for  the best team or contestant to win. Focus was more on  participation with a sportsman spirit and this was considered more important than just winning at any cost.
These ideas seem to have undergone change gradually & steadily. The world began to see sportsmen and their coaches resort to dubious means just for that moment of glory! So one day a person is hailed as the "fastest man in the world" only to be jeered a few days later as the "fastest junkie in the world".

In this post I would like to draw attention to the importance of healthy competition which has many benefits beyond the immediately visible, not only in the area of sports but in various other disciplines including the corporate world.

In an organization restructuring in our company, recently technical training which was  a separate  department was merged & brought under our Learning & Development department. hence 14 more team members were added to our original strenghth of  7 including me, the team leader. Although we had come under one umbrella, it was  believed that it will take some time for both sections to start experiencing the feeling of affinity for each other. Around this time an opportunity came up for us to work & bond together.

Foundation day is celebrated every year in the company during the month of May in a grand manner.Competitions are organized by the Employee Relations department in debates, essay writing,group singing,quiz etc. I suggested to the team members in both sections that we participate in the group song event this year as a departmental team and also requested them to think of a 'Learning Song' instead of singing a film song as is the normal practice.

Some team members belonging to the new technical training section showed enthusiasm to the suggestion. I also in the meanwhile started penning down random thoughts that came to mind for a song. "Learning, its Learning  that keeps you going......In good times,hard times,anytime..." (for the full learning song check out the blog  Some music for the lines  also sprang up as I wrote the lines. As I am no musician and there was the probabilty of not remembering the tune later on, I recorded the song on my mobile phone. Couple of days later Balachandran, a  team member from technical training section sent me a poem on learning. The lines included "Maatram mara ulaginile, aitrum tharuvathu kalvi ondre" which translated reads "In a world where change is the norm,it is learning alone that gives progress/ upward movement. The challenge was to find suitable tune for the poetic lines. The tune of an old Tamil film song seemed to match some of the lines in the poem.

We then  discussed as the full L&D team and decided to incorporate some of the lines from the Tamil poetry in to the learning song in English and sing the hybrid vresion as a bilingual.The group song team of six consisted of  3 representatives from technical training, 2 from behavioural training and me, the team leader.
The process of rehearsing for the song facilitated the opportunity to plan,collaborate, sing,be playful & get to know each other better. The practice sessions were attended not only by the singers but team members from both the technical & behavioural sections who came to encourage & support.

On the D day, the L&D team (Learning Stars) was invited to sing  first in the competition. Witnessed by all team members in full strength we sang the learning song which was followed by applause from the audience. But the question is did we win the competition? Living in a time when most people believe that "Winning is not everything.It is the only thing" the question has a a lot of significance.

The fact is that we did not win any of the three prizes announced. But to my mind,many are the benefits that we derived by participating in the event.Our two sections collaborated and developed a sense of comfort with each other. The entire department stood as one as they cheered for their team.We used the talents of different team members not only in singing but creation of the lines(most sang film songs). We had given our own music for the song.We brought in the novelty of including lines in two languages in our song.Last but not the  least the content of our song was on 'Learning', the very purpose & goal of our department.

Against these facts, can anyone claim that "Winning is everything"?