Groundhog Day is a great film. It is funny and poignant and thought provoking and rewarding. By some process – some sort of cultural-popular-resonance process – the phrase “Groundhog Day” has entered common use in English language. Groundhog Day is used to describe a situation that continually repeats (or seems to)…and is often an unpleasant situation.
Groundhog Day is also an old film – 1993 to be precise. And I have watched many times. And I know I use Groundhog Day a lot…over and over again!
I used the phrase last Monday. I was at a global leaders meeting on the East Coast and I had been asked to present on Day 1 on what our team does. The session was designed to help increase understanding across all 250 attendees. The twist was that the 250 were divided into 9 groups. I had to give the same presentation 9 times – 20 minutes each time. More like combining Groundhog Day with Speed Dating with Jet Lag.
I enjoy these big meetings and I like to be involved. It always feels like a long way to travel (because it is) so I feel I should go for it in terms of involvement to get most value out of that time investment. Presenting on Day 1 is always a great start. Everyone sees you and hopefully remembers you. New conversations and friendships begin…and information starts to flow. All are of value.
But my real measure of success is that I leave with more than just a pocketful of business cards and copious notes on discussions…success is that I leave with better and different ideas than when I arrived. Ideas for actions we could take or projects we could start. Ideas that excite me. And I know (as I arrive) that in order to leave successfully I have to engage and participate…and have to just believe that good things will come.
My big inspiration came at dinner on Monday night after my nine presentations. I was at a table with new colleagues I did not know (a good start). My new best friend at work leant over to me after a while and asked me what I did (not as a good moment considering my Groundhog Day afternoon). But we started talking.
He was the individual I didn’t know, the person I was sure would exist and the one I most wanted to meet. He knew in detail what his part of our new organisation did, and he had thought about how his team and ours could combine to produce something different and – in my mind – very significant.
We spoke for ages over desert, wine, coffee and wine. And we exchanged business cards. I was very tired by the time I got back to my room…but despite everything I could not sleep. My mind was racing. There was something in what we had talked about over dinner. I knew it. But I also knew I had to sleep…eventually.
I talked a lot over the next days. I say talked more (croaked would be more accurate). I listened more. More information from more people. More business cards. More ideas. But my mind kept coming back to that one Monday idea.
I left the meeting tired and excited – both of which are good indicators – and arrived home Friday.
I just let my thoughts sit and stew on Friday. I have been here before…first day back is never a good day to go for anything of significance. I drafted my email on Saturday. It was long. I had to clarify my own thinking as I wrote. I hit send. I was excited.
And now I wait…