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The Power of A Good Practical Joke

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I had just been promoted to manager and head swim team coach of our neighborhood pool. My staff and I had spent the week brushing algae off tiles, making bulletin boards, and organizing schedules–we were ready for the launch of an amazing season.

I locked up my bike and unlocked the gate, a bit nervous, I was excited to lead the first practice of the season. The kids arrived, and after a few complaints about the extra cold water, jumped in to begin their warm up.

Suddenly, sweet “6-and-under” Ned started splashing and screaming like he’d seen a shark. “Miss Karin, Miss Karin, Come quick! I saw a fish!”

“Ned, calm down, you didn’t see a fish. Put your head in the water and keep swimming,” I replied, knowing that I needed to stand firm to keep credibility as a new leader not much older than most of the swimmers.

But then, my assistant coach, John, who had gotten in the water with the kids to show them it couldn’t be THAT cold, pulled himself out the pool and came running over. As he dripped on my sweatshirt he whispered:

“Uhhhh, Karin. There really is a fish.”

I quickly got everyone out of the pool and discovered that there was not just one fish, but THREE. The kids all jumped back in and tried to chase them with their bare hands. Ned ran home to get his fishing rod.

The phone rang.

It was Peter. The head coach of our rival swim team. “Just calling to congratulate you on your first day as head coach and pool manager. How’s it going?

“OMG, there are FISH IN MY POOL.” As soon as I got the words out I knew who had placed them there.

Well played.

A great start to a great season. Our rivalry turned from competitive angst to collaboration and real friendship.

April Fools Day Prep

“Taking the time to polish a pun or fine-tune a practical joke is a way of saying, ‘I’m thinking about you and I want to please you.”
Andrew Hudgin

In honor of April Fools Day, I’d love to hear your favorite practical joke stories. Who knows what shenanigans we may be able to inspire amongst our tribe.

See also Top 10 Office Practical Jokes (Matt McWilliams), Strategic Silliness:  When to Lighten the Mood (Karin Hurt)

In Other LGL News

Karin Hurt, CEOExciting to have my thought featured in this Time Magazine article:  5 Questions to Ask When You’re Looking For Feedback. It’s a nice collection of thinking worth sharing with your team.

If you’re looking to take your results to the next level, please give me a call at 443-750-1249 to discuss how I can help.

Your turn. Share your stories of fun April Fool’s Day or other practical jokes.
Filed Under:   Communication, Energy & Engagement
 
 
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers, AMA's 50 Leaders to Watch in 2015, & Top Thought Leader in Trust by Trust Across America. She’s the author of 2 books: Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss.
 

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