I found myself laughing, way too hard, by myself, in the bathroom, as I sent a video of dirty laundry to the rest of the staff I work with.
At the special operations unit I have called home for almost 10 years we have had a big week full of things we are doing from a training perspective and for the overall care of our people. One of those pieces has been a wearable device that strongly resembles what some might say looks like a sports bra. It's not, it's a harness, so grow up. But let's be honest, it looks like a sports bra for men. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
The information we can gather from these devices is enormous and is providing us with as many questions as they answer. To learn, grow and bounce ideas off each other of what we can do to continue to improve for the unit, is half the fun and leaves me loving the job and the people I get to work with and for, all the more.
Back to the laundry...despite all the things we have at our disposal, a washing machine isn't one of them. We explored numerous options on how we would take care of these harnesses as they need to be cleaned daily. Long story short, we concluded that until a permanent solution was established, for us to execute this we would need to take them home and wash them ourselves. So here I am, laughing to myself about hanging up harnesses for special operations soldiers in my bathroom, joking about how "this is what freedom smells like."
This train of thought lead to me to reminisce about so many things myself and other members of our staff have done over the years to accomplish those tasks that go well beyond the job description. From painting walls, to scrubbing toilets, running fork lifts (shhh), late nights, etc. Mind you, this isn't our private facility nor was it our job but for the quality that we try to uphold, at times we need to take matters into our own hands. Now, this doesn't make us special by any means. People have done far more with less in every way, shape or form, that's not what this is about. What it made me think of was a poster given to the staff by one of our soldiers from his battalion. At the bottom, "Sweep the Shed."
If you're familiar with rugby, then you know who the New Zealand All Blacks are. To say they're a dominant force on the international stage would be an understatement. The haka that they perform prior to the match is most likely what brings them to mind for those who aren't rugby fans. During a time in which they were underperforming, they examined what had happened to their team culture and how they had found themselves in the position they were in. Mind you, they were still winning roughly 75% of their games but weren't at a level they deemed acceptable.
The conclusion was that of arrogance and how had it no business in their organization. The mantra "Sweep the Shed" was born (shed is a reference to the locker room). In other words, they should always make sure that the locker room is as clean as when they found it, no matter who you are. From then on, it is and was not uncommon to see anyone and everyone, including the head coach or team captain cleaning up before they left. Willingly.
Now, as high level athletes, this wasn't their job. Naturally, janitors and others would clean up after them. However, when righting the ship and knowing that those little things count, they knew that "better people, make better All Blacks." This lead to them building in to their culture the importance of humility and how no job is beneath you.
Actions speak louder than words. "Better people, make better All Blacks" carries over into life on a daily basis in that better people make better coaches, friends, spouses, parents, and the list goes on. When it comes down to it, are you willing to do the little things that matter, no matter how small the task.
We control the culture of our lives and the legacy we want to leave. "Sweep the Shed" is that reminder.
When I sent the video of the dirty laundry, a friend replied with "your positive attitude will take you far kid." I laughed to myself and went about my business. Sometimes sweeping the shed is the best part of the day.
The laundry has air dried and it's time to bag it up. Tomorrow is a new day and another opportunity to remind "our guys" that it's a harness, not a sports bra.
If you haven't read the book "Legacy," by James Kerr, add it to your list. The book goes into the behind the scenes as to who the All Blacks are and the success they have achieved.