For most people, the month of December means getting ready for holiday celebrations. For me, and for a fearless crew of pond curlers, it means it is getting close to the annual edition of DLIPCC (Dumbell Lake Invitational Pond Curling Championship). We anxiously await the e mail from Gary “Button Weight” Buss, Pond Curling Czar, updating us on rink conditions, new regulations, participants list, and whatever else he thinks we need to know.
Teams of two hit the ice and spend the day battling against one another for the much coveted trophy. My name, believe it or not, is on the trophy, along with Caleb MacKay, after winning the inaugural competition. This year, to my utter and total delight, my partner was Kerry Philippi. If I ever had a chance of getting the trophy again, it would be with Kerry.
Pond curling, like many other sports, is as much about communication as it is about skill. If you and your partner can share information with clarity and speed, as well as throw your rocks with accuracy, you stand a good chance of making it to the semis in this event. Kerry and I could do both! In fact, in hind sight, it never occurred to me that we couldn’t.
Funny that, because Kerry is deaf and she doesn’t read lips. So no amount of me trying to enunciate more clearly, or talking more loudly was going to help. Kerry signs. Naturally, I don’t. Communication could have been very, very challenging.
But it wasn’t, because Kerry and I relied on different ways of communication that didn’t involve words. When one of you can’t hear, and the other can’t sign, you need to look at each other in the eyes, all the time. By doing so, we were able to constantly “read” our partner’s mood or concerns, and words didn’t matter, because we were connected to one another.
We also got close to each other. When the other team was yelling to one another across the ice, Kerry and I would meet at the centre, hold on to each other’s arms or hands, and share our information. We were always making decisions standing next to one another, never alone, and because of our proximity, we could be certain that we understood each other.
Finally, Kerry had this habit of forgetting her hat at one end (she would remove it so it didn’t fall over her eyes when she threw her rock…she is such a professional!). Instead of yelling to her that she forgot it, I had to take a bit of extra time, slide down the rink and bring it to her. By taking the extra time, we had another opportunity to study the rink and make our decisions about what we would do.
Can you find the three lessons that I can take from pond curling hidden in my words? First, if you running a workshop or have a speaking engagement, make eye contact with as many people as possible. You will be connected with them, just like Kerry and I were connected.
Get close to people! Instead of hiding behind a podium or a stage, be prepared to move towards your clients, partners or participants. Nearness means you can communicate with your eyes, your words and your presence. Communication becomes much more powerful and much easier.
Take a bit more time. In this frenetic business life we all lead, we tend to rush about and misunderstandings are easy. If you take the extra time, you can study things a bit more closely and you will find you have more opportunities for positive change, for better communications and for success.
WE MADE IT TO THE SEMI FINALS!!! But we were up against Mike Wieler, Pond Curling God, and his partner Ethan MacKay. We were the first (and only) team to hold them to a no-pointer in a single end. But Mike and Ethan managed to out-play us, not through better communication, but better rock placement. No worries, we had a blast, and we will be a force to be reckoned with at next year’s DLIPCC!!! We will look at each other in the eye, we will get close and we will take our time. Who knows what the outcome will be!