A year ago I read The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown and loved it! Then a week ago I heard a talk by Sharon Eubank. She relates a key theme from the book and applies it to unity … the kind of unity we can have in society, and in our companies…
1936 Olympic Underdogs
“In 1936, an obscure rowing team from the University of Washington traveled to Germany to participate in the Olympic Games. It was the depths of the Great Depression. These were working-class boys whose small mining and lumber towns donated bits of money so they could travel to Berlin. Every aspect of the competition seemed stacked against them, but something happened in the race. In the rowing world, they call it “swing.” Listen to this description based on the book The Boys in the Boat: 1
“There is a thing that sometimes happens that is hard to achieve and hard to define. It’s called “swing.” It happens only when all are rowing in such perfect unison that not a single action is out of sync.
“Rowers must rein in their fierce independence and at the same time hold true to their individual capabilities. Races are not won by clones. Good crews are good blends—someone to lead the charge, someone to hold something in reserve, someone to fight the fight, someone to make peace. No rower is more valuable than another, all are assets to the boat, but if they are to row well together, each must adjust to the needs and capabilities of the others—the shorter-armed person reaching a little farther, the longer-armed person pulling in just a bit.
“Differences can be turned to advantage instead of disadvantage. Only then will it feel as if the boat is moving on its own. Only then does pain entirely give way to exultation. Good “swing” feels like poetry. 2
“Against towering obstacles, this team found perfect swing and won. The Olympic gold was exhilarating, but the unity each rower experienced that day was a holy moment that stayed with them all their lives. ” 3
Want to see SWING in action?
Check out this video of the Oxford Brookes vs Brown 2014 regatta final with Rory Copus in the coxswain seat. As an EOS Implementer®, I couldn’t help but compare the coxswain to the “Integrator” role in the Accountability Chart™. “A coxswain is responsible for steering the boat and coordinating the power and rhythm of the rowers.” This sounds a lot like what an “integrator” does in a company.
Let’s Get Your Boat in Swing!
Want to get your program together and start “winning races” with your company? Give me a call and I’ll help you implement a business system that gets your whole crew in SWING!
1 See Sharon Eubank, By Union of Feeling We Obtain Power with God, (2020) https://tinyurl.com/y6ygbk6c
2 See Daniel James Brown, The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (2013), 161, 179.
3 Eubank (2020)