Our family survived Hurricane Irma! As new Floridians, it was our first hurricane.
I wouldn’t necessarily call that a commendable achievement, nor would I label it as a particularly fun experience. But I will say it was an experience that provided me with an even greater appreciation for the impact of good teammates.
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, I tweeted a photo of Houston EMS personnel making good teammate moves by bravely aiding those in need. The photo was accompanied by the following text:
Photos coming out of Houston are incredible. Proof that good teammates always emerge in times of need. #HoustonStrong
When I tweeted that message, I didn’t expect to be in the thralls of my own hurricane adventure a mere two weeks later.
Through the wonders of technology, I witnessed numerous acts of kindness with Harvey. With Irma, I got to witness them firsthand.
What I witnessed covered the gamut of selflessness. I saw everything from the tremendous courage of EMS personnel rescuing stranded victims to the seemingly small gestures of generosity between neighbors.
When Irma passed, a group of my neighbors went up down our street securing and replanting every uprooted tree. No one asked them to do so. They just did it out of the kindness of their heart. Their gesture meant a lot to the residents of our community.
As first time hurricaners, it meant a lot to my family to have neighbors stop by and offer reassuring advice before Irma hit. Equally appreciated were the calls and texts we got checking in on us during the storm.
Although I was very grateful for those things, I don’t know that I was particularly surprised by them. Catastrophic events always seem to bring out the best in people. It is one of life’s great ironies.
What did surprise me, however, were the palm trees in front of my house.
I don’t have much experience with palm trees. There aren’t any of them where I grew up in western Pennsylvania.
I am not sure why, maybe it was their skinny appearance or my naivety, but I assumed the palm trees would be the first to snap when the winds reached hurricane levels. I was wrong.
Their branches thrashed in the wind, and their trunks swayed, but they didn’t break.
We had other bigger, stronger trees in our neighborhood that didn’t fare as well. When the storm was over, there were plenty of downed oak trees. But no palm trees.
We’ve all come across teammates who were like the oak trees. They are so rigid, and so headstrong, that they can’t adapt. They are incapable of compromise. When they don’t get their way, they abandon the needs of their team and resort to self-serving agendas. In essence, they break.
Good teammates are like palm trees. They bend, but they don’t break.
They are able to metaphorically bend their personal desires to match what’s best for their team. They remain loyal without forsaking their integrity or abandoning their team. They bend, but they don’t break.
We are blessed to be surrounded by such great friends and neighbors, and we were fortunate to have made it through Hurricane Irma as virtually unscathed as we did. I know many others were not as fortunate. And I know now is the time to step up and be good teammates to those individuals who weren’t.
The sun is back shining today. It’s almost hard to believe a hurricane just passed through.
If adversity is making its way through your team, choose to be a palm tree. Bend…but don’t break. And remember, if you can weather the storm, the sun will eventually return to shining in your life too.
As always: Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.