This is old news by now, and the sparkle and shine that my city lived under for many days has worn off a bit, it's true. As an eye witness however, I can tell you that the weeks of the playoffs leading up to this first SF Giants win was magic. I love my city right down to its granola core, but I admit that San Francisco is a town of judgments hiding under a guise of free range organic hippie-open-mindedness. The hipsters
judge the Marina kids and vice versa. The tech wizards judge the homeless for lack of ambition, and the homeless judge anyone for giving them less than a five dollar bill. Our city council members judge parents who consider McDonald's to be a perfectly decent meal for their kids, and had the toys in Happy Meals banned. I'm completely apathetic about sports, and I judge sports fans. But for a few golden weeks, this city truly set aside its snarky side, and there was nothing but esprit de corp, joie de vivre, and je ne sais quoi in the streets.
I'm still apathetic about sports, but I will be the first to admit that there was a lot to be learned from the Giants this season.
1. There is incredible strength in diversity. What a weird ragtag group of rookies, pot smokers, and facial hair enthusiasts who, with the right management, focus, and a sprinkle of pixie dust pulled out what might have been thought impossible. When pulling together your next project team, or hiring staff, maybe shelling out a huge salary for the Barry Bonds of the corporate world isn't the winning ticket. It's almost too easy. Instead, look at the group dynamics, the balance of strengths and weaknesses, and chemistry.
2. Sometimes you have to win before you get the respect. I heard plenty of grumbling from the die-hard-I-froze-my-butt-off-at-Candlestick-Park-back-in-the-day-for-the-love-of-the-team folks about everyone coming out of the woodworks when it looked like we might just win this. But the reality is, in sports and at the office, you're probably going to have to prove yourself first before the support and buy-in comes. The great trick for the Giants will be keeping the love going into next year's season, just like the trick at work is translating a big win into a promotion, and/or more interesting and satisfying projects.
3. Everyone loves a parade: Rewarding wins brings exponential returns. I was out of town on business during the Giants ticker tape parade, which reportedly drew up to 1 million fans. Part of me shudders at the idea of trying to share my fairly sane commute on public transportation with that many people dressed in orange and black, and is relieved that I missed it. But the other part is incredibly disappointed to have missed an unabashedly joyous, cynicism-free, group hug on the city streets. Celebrate your team wins, big and small, in ways that are big and small. You don't need a parade (though it is nice) to send a message of support, build morale, and acknowledge a team or person for going above and beyond. Even as budgets shrink, and time feels too pressed to acknowledge efforts, finding ways to celebrate reinforces the sense that we are all headed in the same direction, and encourages exceptional performance from others.