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The time I went golfing

It was Feb 2021. My company had just gone through some change, and much like a new term at school with new classmates, we were starting afresh after being shuffled into new teams. My boss at that time, whom we’ll call J, was a senior leader at the company. He was observant, direct in his communications, and a visionary; someone whose approval I sought. J organized an outing for the team to get to know each other better, and the plan for the day was to golf!

The greens were beautiful and the weather was perfect. We were to begin with a crash course on the basics of golfing techniques, and then to split up into pairs for a friendly round of competition. and the expectation was that by the end of this bouyant team bonding activity, we'd be best friends. Easy peezy. I, however, felt the familiar feeling of inadequacy and awkwardness creep in.

I have 15 years of work experience and have attended a variety of team events: conferences, panels, strategy workshops, some combined with adventure sports, gym classes, dinner parties, etc. Almost 95% of the time, I have been the odd one out at these events, which ironically has become the common thread for me. I either don’t follow the dress code (short sleeved tee's with company logos and inspirational quotes are tempting, but no thanks I don’t wear tops that reveal too much of my prosthesis), or I sit on the bench while the team bonds over a game of pool, tug of war, mountain biking, nail painting, flower arrangement, or any other activity that requires two functioning arms.

So when I heard that the plan was to play golf, my mind immediately defaulted into apologizing, “oh I am so sorry but I won’t be able to play” or “I know, I should have said something, but don’t worry about me!” Or, “I will just see you after the game. have fun!”. But this time, something different seemed to be transpiring.

J put me in his team. I urgently informed him before the teams set off for their respective games that he needed to reassign partners because I wouldn’t be able to participate due to my arm. He looked at me puzzled and asked “you aren’t even going to try?”. I looked back at him equally perplexed, “well you are going to lose if you have me in your team. I will not be able to swing”. J hesitated, decided to ignore me, and walked ahead to take his first shot.

Was I suppose to follow him? This was unchartered territory. “Your turn” he called out. I took the club he’d picked out for me and swung it awkwardly. Even with not much power, it flew out of my right hand and into the bushes. “Why is he doing this to me?” I thought embarrassed as I ran to retrieve it. J took the next shot and looked at me expectantly. “J, I don’t think I can do this” I said, hoping the firmness in my voice would make him see the boundary he was crossing, even as my boss. It worked to a certain extent, he requested me to try again. This happened a few times, and with each instance, J would give me tips to try a different angle, posture, etc. Begrudgingly I followed and tried again and again and again... until finally, i putt one! And just like that, the mood lifted; very naturally J started to coach me, problem solve on how i could swing comfortably with/without my prosthesis. Time flew by. It didn’t matter whether or not we won the competition, we both felt victorious.

As we walked back, I wondered “did J plan this all along or did he just improvise?”. and "did he truly care about me individually or did he just really want the team to bond at all costs?" hardly mattered I realized, also I had just played golf! 🙌🏾 Later that day, J gave the full team long sleeves tshirts with the company logo as a gift for participating in the team event. So I didnt have to be the only one receiving a special long sleeved tshirt whilst others wore long sleeves... neither did i have to be the only not wearing a short sleeved tshirt whilst the others did. So... not as improvised i guess ;)

Point is, there are ways to be truly inclusive if one thinks for a minute longer. The above example opened up a whole new truth for me... of course no one needs to feel compelled into doing something, but if one really cares, there are always ways to make a workplace environment - in office or offsites - comfortable for all. Just need to go the extra half mile to make the effort. There are a bunch of ideas team leaders can empower themselves with to make their team environments inclusive and accessible, I'll share more in a future post. It however does takes two to tango. I could have completely shut down all of J's attempts, and we would have never reached that outcome. Sometimes worth giving the other person a chance ;)

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28 дек. 2023 г.
Оценка: 5 из 5 звезд.

It was so nice to read this. I’m glad people like your boss exist. I can relate to this somewhat. I have had to reduce the office offsites I take part in because of my food intolerances. I can never be sure if there will be food to eat. Having left Germany, I also realise that getting small accommodations was especially hard there. The culture doesn’t really allow that. I have found people in Canada to be much more accepting and willing to make accommodations. They might not manage it but they try.



Оценка: 5 из 5 звезд.

Super read 👏🏻👏🏻 it’s said, a lion can only do lion back riding👍🏻


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