When my second child was learning to walk, I was learning to roller skate.
I wanted to do something challenging and cool – to regain part of myself that didn’t seem to be there anymore. My normal life felt stressful, frustrating and overwhelming with multiple business goals and multi-generational family obligations that never seemed to be satisfied. When a friend mentioned a new roller derby league, it sounded perfect. It helped immensely to be able to detach for a few hours a week, and I found that joining up -albeit with few skills – and being a founding skater in Austin’s first roller derby recreational league was the best thing I could have done…for its immediate impact then, and for long-term ideas about self worth, personal empowerment and grandly, how the world can best advance.
Roller derby is a full contact sport where players on roller skates compete in teams to outscore their components. Beside the roller skate part(!), the unique aspect of the sport is that teams have to be moving in the same direction in order for the game to take place. This is unlike all other team sports that I know.
Think about American football, soccer, basketball or even synchronized swimming – one team’s progression means the other team goes backward. But in roller derby, two distinct teams are moving forward together, in alignment and according to the same rules; otherwise, the game won’t happen. You score by getting ahead, not by pushing another back. Global advancement is the same in that it relies on alignment, in all players moving together and not in head-on contact where one group only prevails by pushing another group backward. There are not separate goalposts. You share the same start and finish line.
In roller derby, the attributes of each player count. You don’t have to be exceptionally big or tall or fast. As long as you are able to move on skates, you can contribute. Knowing and using your unique capabilities as an individual create success for your team, and for the game as a whole. Your ability to just be present and to play – that’s what creates a successful game for your self as an individual, for your team, and for the other team, because it means the game is aligned in moving forward and advancing.
Even if unevenly matched in skill or size, roller derby teams can only play as long as each side is safe – trying to blatantly hurt or batter the other team stops the game, and therefore any progress. The game stops. Directional alignment and the shared goal of playing by moving forward is the key.
In global business and advancement, the game of roller derby serves as a unique and useful model. We don’t universally move ahead when one country, company, or individual moves ahead at the expense of another. To say roller derby is win-win is prosaic. Everyone will not always get a trophy. One “side” will “win more” than another and the gains (or points) are not equal. However, the takeaway is that both sides are moving in the same direction, advancing, and using a shared set of rules and understanding, allowing the game to go on. Alignment is paramount to universal (or global) success.
If you can think of another team sport where this is the case, I would love to hear it. So far, I haven’t come up with one. As we go forward in the world, keeping the roller derby example in mind provides a necessary model and conceptual framework for global advancement and progress. That’s in addition to the personal empowerment aspect, but I’ll save those thoughts for later. For now, focus on this: You can only win when you are engaged and aligned with the other team.
For more thoughts on this topic, contact us at info@BlueHeron8.com. Happy Chinese New Year, Ya’ll!