Friday, January 2, 2009 by Dave Blum

Continued from last entry…

Sorting ourselves out from the accident and assessing the damage — both to the boat and to ourselves — took a few, painful minutes.  Donna had a small cut to the top of her head and two black eyes; Marco was completely unscathed; and Andrea had a nasty leg contusion.  I was mostly fine, except for an enormous red swelling in my lower back.  It hurt like the dickens, but I could move all my extremities, which was definitely a good sign.  Our boat fared less well; cracked and scuffed, it was completely un-seaworthy and needed to be towed away to the nearest resort by the other craft  A brief check over by the staff nurse at the resort earned Donna three stitches on the head and me a bottle of codeine.   Banged-up-but-intact, we were given drinks from the bar and sent back to our hotel for convalescence.

The next few days were restful, but I was definitely not okay; my back hurt, my kidneys ached, and I could only lie on one side. Our hotel proprietor, Alejandro, took on the burden of responsibility for the accident.  “You need to be checked by a real doctor!”  The next day, he chartered a plane (on his own dime) to fly us back to the capital, San Jose, and sent his brother with us to translate at the clinic.  Alejandro paid not only for the flight but also for the doctor’s visit and our hotel! Fortunately, my injury wasn’t serious; a bad, bad bruise, but nothing worse.  I was apparently meant to survive.

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It seems to me that trust is a two-way street, both on teams and in the real world.  Whether we’re talking about scavenger hunts, corporate team building activities, product development groups or boat accidents in the tropics, people must absolutely be able to trust that you will do what you say you’re going to do, especially in times of crisis.  What interests me, however, is the flipside:  how important it is that you cultivate within yourself the ability to trust. In Costa Rica, a team of people arose to take care of me while I was injured:  Donna, the resort nurse, the boat captain, Alejandro and his brother, the clinic doctor…  But most importantly, I decided that I was going to allow myself to trust these relative strangers.  I could have been the ugly American and threatened to sue everyone; I could have flown home immediately rather than letting the resort nurse or clinic doctor touch me.   Instead, I determined that these people meant well for me, they seemed competent and so I trusted them.

More often than not, if you give people a chance, they’ll come through for you.

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