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What picking blueberries teaches about teambuilding

Every once in a while there is a moment or experience that you know is a lesson that will last and have an impact in other areas of a child’s life and yesterday was a day to remember. My 9 year old son and I went to a local Blueberry farm to pick some blueberries so we could get some delicious fruit and enjoy an experience together.

We each got one bucket to fill and the women that owns the farm told us that the first few rows were picked heavily and that we should go to the end and start from there. After a few minutes my bucket was about 1/3 full and my sons was about ¼ full and I noticed that he stopped and put his bucket down to pick out the few unripe berries that made it into his bucket.

At this moment I knew there was an opportunity to teach a meaningful lesson.

Me: Evan, what are you doing?

Evan: Picking out the bad ones, why?

Me: Just curious, can I ask you a question though?

Evan: Sure.

Me: If you only focus on the few bad ones, what do you stop yourself from doing and finding?

Evan: umm….. (A few moments of silence and contemplation)…well, I won’t find any good ones because I am only looking for bad ones. He said this in a way that sought my approval but I was glad to see he understood his actions could determine different outcomes.

Me: So do you spend more time looking for as many good ones as you can find and then deal with the few bad ones or do you spend more time looking for bad ones and prevent yourself from finding the good ones?

Evan: (He is quiet and thinking) “I think I’ll just look for the good ones and try to avoid picking bad ones, but I know I’ll get a few anyway, and when I do, I’ll get rid of them but I think I’ll get more better ones if I look more for the good ones.

Me: This was a nice father and son moment for me so I asked. How does this approach apply to building a team?

Evan: Well…….if I only spend time looking for bad ones, I’ll never find any good ones and I’ll work just as hard as you but my bucket will be empty. “Dad, is this you do in business when you travel and talk with people?”

Me: In many ways yes.

Evan: Why don’t business people just learn to look for the good ones and fill their bucket, I mean team faster? It won’t take long before they’ll see the ones that are no good anyway.
Me: Thanks Evan.

Evan: For what?

Me: For coming here with me, talking, and picking blueberries. Do you think Mom will make you some blueberry muffins?

Evan: I hope so. I am going to ask here as soon as we get home. Can we go now?

When we got home, we spilled out our bucket on the counter top, and there were thousands of good berries and only a few bad ones which we quickly got rid of and now we have only good ones.

I have to say, I never would have thought that picking blueberries would allow me to have such a conversation with my 9 year old son. It was clear that he genuinely understood how you get more of what you look for in life. Whichever you spend more time looking for, the good or the bad, you’ll find an abundance of it.