Food Poisoning! And the team that healed me.

The doctor came in for the 2nd time in as many hours. “How are you feeling Jeff?” “Well, I haven’ t felt the urge to dry heave in over an hour Doctor, thanks for asking.” “ I can’t allow you to be discharged until you can keep something down”, she said. “Do you feel up to a little juice?” “Yes please.” I was at Memorial Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. Ironically, tomorrow I’ll be there again at their conference center for TEDx rehearsal. A more “fun” visit. But, for today’s visit, I had made a grand entrance by hobbling into the ER doubled-over, with a bucket in my hand just in case, and promptly lay down on the floor blocking the entrance as effectively as I could. “Sir, your drivers license please”

A few minutes later in my “room”, Alex, a tall… very cool RN/dude who was my primary ER caretaker, came by with a tiny Apple Juice, and a matching container of Apple Sauce. ( I don’t like apple sauce, but oh well.)

An hour or so earlier, Alex had done a fairly good job of inserting the needle to insert anti-nausea medicine, and then a bag of fluids. (I’ve had better, but I’ve had worse as well.) I was quite in need of these mind you, as I had been throwing up since 2am and was parched and exhausted. Alex was both friendly and the same time.

A bit earlier than that even, Zetta my admittance counselor from up front, had come back to see me and ask a few contact questions. Then we talked about her upcoming vacation to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. We had a great talk, and it was so nice to get to know her a little bit. She exuded positive vibes. I needed that smile almost as I needed those fluids.

As I lay in that hospital bed for hours, surrounded with the hustle and pain, the fear and coughing, I became truly aware of all the sounds and smells that permeate the atmosphere in an emergency room. There are people here in much worse shape then I, I told myself. The ER team made me feel cared for. That was a relief. When I facilitate our music team building programs in Florida, Nashville or anywhere for that matter… before I step on stage, I always try to channel a positive experience I’ve personally had with a team somewhere in my past. At a restaurant, a doctors office, a non-profit…

Every time a team works well together, it becomes more than the sum of the individual parts. It becomes the strength and potential of “the collective.” A force that can bend rivers, build dams, and change cultures. That potential, is awesome. So, before speaking at TEDx this weekend, (  I want to say thank you to the team at Memorial Hospital for healing me. You have a very tough job, and experiencing your drive help, your collaborative spirit, and your smiles was inspiring. I hope that I don’t see you again for a long, long time! Now, let the music carry you forward.

Assemble that couch! Not what I had in mind for team-building.

Sometimes it all just goes so wrong. Like tonight for example. I was at a casual, family BBQ. After awhile, when everyone had eaten enough to feel compelled to loosen their pants, a friend and I were told (as two of the younger adults there) that we needed to help the hostess move the furniture back into place. Mostly that meant moving pieces of a large, hefty L-shaped couch back where they belonged. This alone would have been fine. Truly. However, the big fun here, was that we had to latch each individual piece of couch, to the one next to it. Blindly, and by somehow lifting bulky components onto the little, proper male/female metal parts at the very bottom of the couch.

Now, he and I were game mind you, to do most of these. We were making good progress. The engine was going up the hill. The nail was almost into that wood. The runners were almost at the finish line! (catch my drift here?) But, a few of the pieces were tricky to latch on to one another. THANKFULLY, there was however, no shortage of supervision from about 9-10 other people standing around. They were pointing, gesturing, making wonderful suggestions, and generally telling us what to do. AND…as a bonus, asking us why we “did it that way?” etc. All of this couch seat driving, was NOT very helpful. But it did remind me of one too many meetings attended over the years, that had felt this way. One too many events over the years…that had gone this way…one to0 many projects, over the years that had crashed and burned this way. TOO many cooks in the kitchen, too many chiefs. Not enough warriors. Not enough doers. Not a culture of let’s all pitch in, you know…like the AMISH do when raising a barn for a neighbor.

So, what am I getting at here? So what about the couch? Identify your mission. Find your crew. Find the 5-6 notes in your chord at work, at church, at the rescue shelter, in your community. Plot the course. Re-focus on your purpose. Assemble your pieces in harmony, and go do good work.  Now if we can only finish getting this recliner to latch on correctly! See you at !

At Bernie Berlin’s amazing rescue compound, “A Place 2 Bark.”