Bringing Joy to Your Daily Routine

February 4, 2019


By now, you’ve likely watched — or at least heard about — UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi’s awe-inspiring floor routine during a competition on Jan. 12. (I viewed it several more times to get fired up to write this column.)

As of Jan. 22, the 88-second video attracted nearly 42 million views via a UCLA Gymnastics tweet, with another 30 million notched on the UCLA Athletics YouTube page.

At first, you’re taken by Ohashi’s incredible athleticism, an energetic array of acrobatic flips and splits set to snippets of classic songs by Michael Jackson, the Jackson 5 and Earth, Wind & Fire. The judges awarded her a perfect 10.

Watching it again, you’ll notice how much fun she’s having. “It’s so, so joyful. It radiates warmth and glee,” columnist Jason Gay wrote for The Wall Street Journal on Jan. 17. He took it a step further. “I think Ohashi’s routine is a radiant expression of what it means for a human being to be very, very good at something — and to want to share that with everyone.”

After seeing the routine a few times, you’ll also notice the reaction of her teammates. They’re enthusiastically cheering along at the edge of the floor. But they’re not just clapping and fist pumping — they’re also synchronizing elements of the routine along with her. What teammate or co-worker wouldn’t appreciate that kind of support? (Of course, that could be distracting during a client pitch.)

The video and the subsequent conversations about athletics and teamwork took me back to when I played high school basketball, as most things do. I can’t recall all the particulars, such as our opponent, only that it was a midseason game my senior year when I heaved a 50-foot shot at the halftime buzzer — and it went in!

Whoa. I jumped up and down and high fived the crowd while rushing into the locker room. In my “one shining moment,” I didn’t realize that my teammates did not share the excitement. They blankly walked in behind me moments later, with our co-captain sarcastically noting that we were now only down by 24. This kind of negative attitude helped us remain a losing team, which I realized long after my high school days.

In a post for Inc. on Jan. 17, Carmine Gallo, a speaker and author, examined Ohashi’s performance in relation to emotional contagion. He cites research by psychologist Peter Totterdell, who says that a team’s collective mood is often in sync with the mood of the leader. “When a leader is upbeat, the positive energy is transferred to individual players — it radiates from the top.”

So basically, the happiness or positive attitude rubs off on others. (Leadership lesson noted.) The next part of Gallo’s column fits in with our storytelling theme this issue. “When you ‘perform’ on the business stage, say, in the form of a presentation, you are transmitting what you feel on the inside,” he writes. “If you don’t have joy for the topic, people will see it and react accordingly. If you have passion, enthusiasm and joy, you’ll inspire the people around you.”

Ohashi later told USA Today: “At the end of the day, I just go out there and do my best and have as much fun as I can.”

That’s simple and straightforward advice for any activity.

John Elsasser

John Elsasser is the editor-in-chief of Strategies & Tactics. He joined PRSA in 1994.



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