Wednesday, January 28, 2009 by Dave Blum

Yesterday’s treasure hunt at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum was cancelled, alas:  the first time one of our indoor scavenger hunts has been canceled due to bad weather.   (The client, it seems, was worried about the safety of busing their group frm Virginia to D.C. on the snowy/icy roads.)   So be it.  We facilitators of corporate team buildinig activities have to roll with the punches.

I used my unexpected free time wisely, first stopping in at the Air and Space Museum to confirm our treasure hunt clues, and then crossing the Mall to visit the marvelous “Newseum.”  It’s quite a place: six stories of fascinating interactive exhibits about news and journalism.

In the gallery of Pulitzer-Prize-winning photographs, I was particularly struck by this shot from the 1992 Olympics.  Accompanying text from the photographer, Ken Geiger, notes:

“Members of the Nigerian relay team rejoice after a photo finish shows they are bronze medalists”.

Considering the joy of their celebration, one would think they had won the gold medal, not the bronze.  But apparently for the Nigerian women, any Olympic medal was a victory.

What a refreshing attitude!  Whether athletes or business people, we all can get fixated on the notion that attaining first place is the only way to win.  As Vince Lombardi put it, “There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game and that is first place.”

For the Nigerian women’s relay team, something else was clearly going on.  No one expected them to win a medal, perhaps not even themselves.  Sometimes the greatest joy is merely defying expectations.