Does any holiday possess a stranger premise than Groundhog Day? Celebrants gather in the cold, pre-dawn hours to watch a weather-prognosticating rodent be plucked from his burrow by a man wearing a tuxedo and top hat.
If the furry fellow, affectionately known as Punxsutawney Phil, sees his shadow, winter continues for six more weeks. If he doesn’t, an early spring is expected.
I grew up near Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and have experienced the hoopla at Gobbler’s Knob firsthand. It’s a fun, festive atmosphere, but it isn’t quite the same as it’s portrayed in the Bill Murray movie.
For starters, the event doesn’t take place in “downtown” Punxsutawney. Gobbler’s Knob is located in a clearing on top of a wooded hill, several miles away from the town. Spectators must either park in town and walk there or catch a ride on a shuttle bus. The gathering is more akin to Bonnaroo or Burning Man or even Woodstock than a quaint town festival.
Thanks to the movie, the expression “Groundhog Day” has taken on a life of its own. It’s now commonly used to describe the feeling of living the same day over and over again. There’s nothing new to report. Life is just wear, wash, rinse, and repeat.
Individuals on a team can experience a similar feeling when they become complacent in their roles. They get accustomed to doing the same routine until they’re eventually overtaken by apathy. I like to refer to this situation as being Groundhog Dazed.
You punch in and punch out. You do your job, but little to nothing more. Whatever passion you may have once had to expand your role or increase your contribution to the team has faded. You’ve become content to be complacent.
Being Groundhog Dazed keeps you from being a good teammate. Your complacency prevents the team from achieving true synergy. Good teammates don’t allow themselves to become stagnant. They continuously seek ways to do more and become more—for their team.
If you find yourself or someone on your team feeling Groundhog Dazed, here are three strategies to combat the situation:
1. Mix up your routine. Enter the building through a different door. Park in different spot. Eat something different for lunch. Eat lunch at a different time. Introducing small changes to your regular routine can produce new stimuli and get you out of your rut and back to finding your groove.
2. Schedule stimulating tasks on your calendar the way you would appointments. The tasks could be something you’ve been meaning to do like call an old friend or something that could expand your skill set like listen to a new podcast. People tend to check off what is written on their calendar and put off what isn’t. Get yourself unstuck by taking advantage of your innate desire to check items off your to do list.
3. Find an accountability partner. We all need a teammate who is going to pull us out of our burrow and keep us from seeing our metaphorical shadow. They don’t have to wear a top hat, but they do need to be top notch in terms of helping you liberate yourself from complacency. Find someone who will help you hold yourself accountable.
Groundhogs are true hibernators. From late fall to early spring, they curl up in their burrows while their heart rate and body temperature plunge. When they emerge from hibernation, they are ravenous.
When team members emerge from being Groundhog Dazed, they should be driven by a hunger to be a better teammate.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.