Few of my blogs receive more positive feedback than those written about the good teammates I happen upon in the most unlikely places. People like Darnell the Mover, whose work ethic and vibrant personality turned our moving nightmare into a cherished memory.
They are ordinary individuals who seem to go about their lives with an extraordinary amount of contagious zeal.
Last night, I crossed paths with another one of those inspiring individuals.
We were out to dinner with some relatives who were visiting from out of town when Amy the Balloon Lady approached our table. She asked if she could make balloon animals for our kids.
I have to admit I wasn’t initially thrilled with her presence. I was hungry, tired, and just wanted to spend an evening catching up with our guests. But as I watched her twist balloons into the shape of a Christmas elf, I couldn’t help but notice the rather large smile growing on my daughter’s face, as well as the faces of everyone else at our table.
Amy proceeded to twist more balloons and then handed a purple unicorn to my other daughter. I marveled at her creativity and thought to myself, “This Amy the Balloon Lady is good.”
She told us she could make over 6,000 different balloon shapes. One of the members of our party was a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan and challenged her to make the Steeler’s logo. She promptly obliged, as we all smiled and applauded.
For the rest of the evening, I watched Amy go from table to table, twisting balloons and creating joy.
She eventually made her way back to our table. I commented that she seemed to really enjoy her work, to which she responded with a very rhetorical, “Is there a better way to spend your life than making people smile?”
Amy proceeded to tell us the story of how she came to be in her line of work. When she got out of the military, she found herself struggling to find a job. On a whim, she went to the Six Flags amusement park near her home in Chicago to see if they had any openings.
They told her they were looking for a clown. That wasn’t exactly what she had in mind for employment, but she accepted their offer. During the course of her clown training, she discovered she was particularly good at making balloon shapes—and making people smile.
Eventually, she started doing birthday parties and entertaining guests at local restaurants on the side. After a while, her side gig grew so big that she left the amusement park and started her own business.
Amy the Balloon Lady embodies so many of the qualities of a good teammate. She is enthusiastic, passionate, dedicated, unselfish, etc. She is also a great example of the impact the introduction of a good teammate can have on a team.
I left the restaurant last night in a fantastic mood. Everybody in our party did. And it wasn’t because of the chef, or the waitstaff, or the décor of the restaurant. It was because of Amy the Balloon Lady.
Our food was good. The service was fine. But the joy she brought to our evening is what made the biggest difference in our dining experience. Her attitude towards life was contagious. The restaurant manager who decided to hire her made a wise decision.
So many times, we are fooled into thinking that it is the rock stars on our teams that make the biggest difference. But that is not the case. The real impact is caused by the good teammates whose energy and enthusiasm inspire everyone on the team to want to be better.
Rare individuals like Amy the Balloon Lady are the real rock stars. They ignite our passion for life and inspire us to want to become better versions of ourselves.
Their willingness to share their talents and be an example of what happiness looks like are what propel teams to success.
As always, remember: Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.