I had a great conversation with Adam McTish, a fraternity brother of mine, over lunch today. We have both been involved in an organization called Dawg Camp during our college years. To get the basic point across, the program is a sort of extended orientation to the University. It brings 200-300 incoming first year students together for a weekend of fun and learning at an off-campus site.
Dawg Camp was essentially my launching pad for success in college. I learned a TON about myself, about the university, about the importance of diversity, and about the essential skill of letting loose and making a fool of yourself (in a good way) every once in a while.
I’ve never been one to go out on a limb to be silly or act like a fool in order to make others feel more comfortable, but as Adam put it today, Dawg Camp just brings it out of you. You can’t help but get excited and passionate about a program that has such a huge impact on students in a short three days.
My first year of serving on Dawg Camp staff, I served in a behind-the-scenes sort of role. We had to get to camp early to set everything up and the campers and staff arrived later in the day. As the buses pulled up with everyone on board, this amazingly ridiculous energy came up inside of me, and before I knew it I was going nuts welcoming everyone to Dawg Camp and pointing them in the direction of their cabins.
I feel confident that a person or two thought I was absolutely crazy. But it didn’t matter. My actions – putting myself out there and being goofy and acting like I had had far too many red bulls put the students at ease. It showed them that it is ok to look stupid every once in a while.
I think this is an important concept. There is a time and place for everything, and clearly the classroom or your internship cubicle aren’t the best places to try this out. However, having the ability to get on a stage and put on a ridiculous skit, yell out a cheer, dance like a fool, or to do whatever else it takes is important. All of these things can create a friendly environment, foster group pride, and help someone else to feel more comfortable.
So, whats my point? First, find something in your life which you have such a passion for that you would be willing to act like a fool to help it succeed. Second, don’t be afraid of what that one person that’s too cool for school is going to think of you. Finally, this means adding value to an organization by acting a fool, not taking away from it.