“Holly” Water

Gerwig 2013-10-16

Deep in the jungle, we stopped to buy some water. Clean and pure. Not from the river beside us, but from a local entrepreneur who had a makeshift bamboo table set up by the waterfall. “Holly Water” it read. … The truth is often amazing and funny. Ever hear yourself say, “you can’t make this stuff up!” It happens to me all the time.

Sometimes I wish I had a video camera (like a GoPro) sitting on my head (or built into my glasses or contact lenses) so that I could rewatch all the funny things that go on around us. People are people. And yes, you and I are not excluded. We do funny things as well. All you have to do is watch.

I once had someone walk up and ask me where they reported to work. I inquired whether or not they were new and it was their first day. “Oh no!” they replied. “I’ve worked here for 4 days.” I asked where they had worked. They replied, “I’m not sure. I don’t really remember.” Wow.

Or the driver of a small car who pulled in front of a fast moving tractor trailer on the interstate. Really? What were they thinking? Or whom were they texting? … Or the person I saw who unwrapped a candy bar, threw away the candy and stuck the wrapper in their mouth. Their face was priceless. … Or the person who somehow had managed to get on the wrong plane and then got mad at the flight attendant for making her vacate her exit row seat. … Or the person who’s using the restroom while on a conference call but “thinks” they put the phone on mute. Yes, that really happened.

Like you, I could go on and on with examples. Every day, if I watch, I see funny things. Sometimes it’s not appropriate to laugh (even if you want to inside). Sometimes, you laugh hard. In my circles, we sometimes call that “belly laughing” or “hee-hawing” (after the old TV show named Hee-Haw). Take a look today and observe people. If you’re around people, you will see funny things. Watch.

Most of you like a good laugh. Yes, there are some serious types who need to loosen up, but most people enjoy a good, hard laugh. It’s ok. Let it out. Laughing is good for you. Having a sense of humor help relieve stress and improve your health. Numerous studies have described the personal and organizational benefits of a healthy sense of humor and laughter.

A few caveats – don’t laugh or make fun of others or put them down. Be culturally sensitive. Don’t be cruel or hurt people’s feelings. Be especially cautious about gender, race, nationality, and age. You may have some other detailed areas in which to tread lightly. If you know someone well, you’ll know their hot buttons and avoid pushing them. You don’t want to damage relationships or be narrow-minded. That said, there’s a ton of space for good clean fun and humor.

World-class leaders who enjoy good health generally have a good sense of humor. They know how to laugh. At funny things. At funny people. At themselves. They observe. They laugh. They release stress.

It was brutally hot. Temperatures were pushing 40 degrees C (104 F) and the humidity was above 90%. We had hiked along a river to the falls. The river was considered holy by the local people. The toothless entrepreneur who had set up the stand was excited to see our group. It could easily be a big day for him. He was selling pieces of sugar cane, cigarettes, Coke, and Holly Water.

With a serious face, one of our group members asked him about the holly water. “No,” the entrepreneur said, “it’s not holly water, it’s HOLY water” because the local monks blessed the bottles. That made it holy. The more a couple people in our group tried to nicely tell him that holy was spelled with one “L”, not two, and that two L’s made the word Holly and not Holy, the more I laughed. I laughed long and hard.

Here we were deep in the jungle and we found Holly Water. Surely it was like the fountain of youth. We even had the ability to take a bottle or two back to loved ones who didn’t want to make the long trek. The man clearly had no idea how to spell holy. English was not his first language. In fact, it may not have been his second or third language either. So why waste time giving him an English spelling lesson? He had the product, the location and the idea. So what if he spelled it differently? Who cares?!!! To boot, here we were deep in the jungle with a nearly insatiable thirst (the river water wasn’t safe to drink) and we’re “arguing” with the entrepreneur over the spelling of a word on his bottles of water. He thought we were nuts. And he was right!

The entire scene had me hee-hawing. Holly Water was funny because of the way it was spelled. The idea was also funny to me as I don’t see bottled water as being holy OR holly. Watching some group members debate the spelling and pronunciation instead of buying and drinking the water immediately was funny. I laughed, not at anyone, but at the scene. The circumstance. The craziness of it all.

Having a healthy sense of humor has a number of positive benefits. It helps us keep from taking ourselves, or others, too seriously. It relieves stress. It clears our minds. It puts things in perspective. … Take a look around. Observe. Laugh. You’ll be glad you did.

What about you? Do you have a sense of humor? Do you laugh out loud, and to yourself on a regular basis?

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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