I’ve been a fan of the Washington Nationals for over twelve years, ever since they built their stadium a few blocks from my home. I watched them struggle in the early years, but they slowly assembled a team filled with skilled players.
Even with excellent athletes, they’d get close to greatness and then crumble under pressure.
A decade of disappointments seemed to wear the team down, and they started the 2019 season with some of their worst performances in years. Who could blame them? They’d lost star player Bryce Harper to rival Phillies, they struggled with injuries, and their bullpen was horrible.
They appeared to have settled into being a good but not great team.
Then, Gerardo Parra joined the team in May. He brought with him the magic that gave the Nationals their first championship title – joy and laughter. Parra chose Baby Shark, a silly children’s song, as his walk-up music and inspired thousands of fans to sing along. He got his teammates to dance in the bullpen and wore ridiculous glasses that made everyone laugh. Parra didn’t focus on winning; he just wanted to have fun.
And, then, the Nats starting winning. They went from having the third-worst record in Major League Baseball to the third best. They won the wild-card game against the Brewers and then beat the Dodgers with a 10th-inning grand slam to win the division. They went on to slaughter the Cardinals 4 to 0 to secure the National League pennant. After losing three World Series games in a row in Washington DC, they returned to Houston and played world-class baseball.
As I watched game seven from the Nationals Stadium in D.C., I saw one of the best examples of resilience I’ve ever seen. The Nats trailed the Astros most of the game. In the seventh inning, they exploded with energy, making six runs in three innings to clinch the championship.
Last week, I posted a blog on how laughter improves resilience. The Nationals showed us what merriment and silliness do for a team. If your team is struggling and you’re looking for a way to boost collaboration, cohesiveness, and effectiveness, inject the group with laughter. Encourage play and light-hearted joking. If you have a team clown or two, recognize their value and encourage their silliness and childlike antics. Don’t take yourselves too seriously and have fun. Play Baby Shark and dance!
Let the Washington Nationals, the 2019 World Series champions, inspire your team to greatness through the power of having fun!