Monday, April 27, 2009 by Dave Blum

I watch a lot of sci-fi, and inevitably there’s a scene where the hero, preparing to rush into a laser fight, turns to his right-hand man (or woman, or droid) and says, “You cover me”.  Think Han Solo and Chewbacca.

This seems, to me, to be a great example of trust — when you’re experiencing a moment of great risk, you know that a trusted teammate “has your back”.  And this doesn’t simply apply to sci-fi action movies; it’s as true for corporate team challenges and office team building games (like scavenger hunts) as it is for the the workplace and the boardroom.  Say you’re preparing to do a Powerpoint presentation and when you stand up to begin, you realize that your laptop is on the fritz. Just as panic is rising in your throat, your assistant steps up and assures you, “Don’t worry boss, I’ve got a spare laptop right here, and it’s already loaded with your presentation.”  Now that’s having your back!

This “having your back” phenomenon can be emotional as well as practical.  This past Saturday, for example, standing up in front of 80 people at the memorial for my Dad, I found myself in a position of some emotional risks.  Although I had practiced the eulogy numerous times at home, I knew that keeping my composure was going to be a challenge — especially towards the end when the speech had me saying goodbye to my Dad.  Without me asking her, my wife, Jen, came up to the podium and stood there with me throughtout the entire speech, with her hand fixed supportively in the small of my back.  From time to time, she moved it up down, or patted me–all in a very calming way.  When I arrived at the end of the eulogy, Jen was right there, reminding me to breathe.  I got through the speech without nary a breakdown –thanks to the support of someone I trust, anticipating my needs.

Truly, my wife had my back.

Who in your life do you trust to have your back in times of risk?  And when is the last time you thanked that person?