I think it might be a record…I’ll have to ask when I get to Tennessee. In the past four years I have managed and co-managed (with a LOT of help) more than 50 teams. In the weeks leading up to the big tournament, I do my best to stay off the emotional roller coaster that many of my teams feel compelled to ride. I bite my tongue when I have an idea that would make things much more straightforward and simple. I wrack my brain to keep from asking leading questions looking for ones that will help the team move forward. I talk to them about the unity, trust and trustworthiness virtues while they argue over details like who will do the paperwork or clean up the mess. I go home at the end of the day with sparkles all over my butt, duct tape stuck to my shoes, paint spots on my pants and a sheepish look at the custodian as I make my way out the door. And I swear to anyone who is still talking to me that I WILL NOT DO THIS AGAIN!
And then I go to the tournament. If there is last minute drama, I don’t really notice it (mostly because I am rushing from room to room to get to all my teams). I watch the presentations as some come together as never before, while others run into glitches and soldier on. I listen to the genuine laughter of the audience as they watch the performance of original scripts. I watch things quit working and then get to observe one or two of the members leap into the gap to lead the way out. I watch my engineers beam with pride as the appraisers ask them about their ideas. I watch my artists talk earnestly about their process. I watch the faces of the parents as they see their children present. I go home feeling so proud of every one of them, not because of the results of the tournament but because I have experienced the journey.
I know the degree to which the teams developed their perseverance, diligence, cooperation, trust, trustworthiness, forgiveness, humility, self-discipline, respect, unity and enthusiasm. I’ve seen the perfectionists take risks, and the introverts step out. I’ve watched the highly sensitive student learn to manage their emotions while they taught the rest of their team about empathy and flexibility. I’ve watched teams dream big dreams and then learn how to scale things down to make them work. I’ve watched teams start small and then keep adding bits and pieces until they surprise themselves with how it all comes together. I have been to the messy, complicated, complex, tearstained, joyful heart of creativity and observed its power of transformation. And that is why I do DI.