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Forklift at the Ready

February 19, 2010

Yesterday, our team was on location all day with a client shooting a corporate video.  To say the schedule was aggressive was an understatement, so when at the walkthrough last week we decided to add photography, let’s just say we all took a deep breath.  As usual, however, that deep breath was completely unwarranted and things went amazingly well.

My favorite moment during the day happened around 2:00 when we gathered more than 200 employees in front of the building for a group photo and dolly video shot.  The wind was blowing, we were waving and confusing them so they were waving back, and every three minutes or so a plane would fly overhead.

This perfect moment occurred a few moments after I looked up and asked where the client was and was told he had gone to get a forklift.

Of course, a forklift.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if we always had a forklift at the ready?” I said, mostly to myself.  The client had gone to grab forklift from the warehouse so our photographer could be lifted up in order to get the right angle and be able to get the shot over the heads of our video team, who were rolling back and forth capturing slow motion shots in front of her.

So every single employee of the company is assembled out front and this cute green forklift comes rolling across the street.  Our tiny photographer hops on the platform with her tripod. The driver zooms her up to position and all of the employees break out into applause.

What made this such a memorable snippet of our day was how entirely engaged in the process all of us were.  Our client was running off resourcefully to help make the shot and schedule work. The VP from Paris was directing the shot from the handheld monitor (the receptionist later asked her if it was an asthma treatment device of some kind).  A couple of us were doing everything we could to signal to the employees to keep smiling, and it was pretty much working despite take after take.

Then a giant aircraft flew overhead.

We all did the same things in unison in a way that made the dynamic flow of the day come to a perfect apex:
We squinted.
We hoped it would pass over on our side of the building.
We shaded our eyes.
We craned our necks.
We looked up, our heads following the arch of the flight pattern from the eastern horizon to the runway just a few hundred yards away.
We turned to each other in awe at its expanse, the volume, and its proximity.
We were all so mezmerized despite the certainty that three minutes later the exact same miracle could happen all over again.

And so it goes when a team finds its rhythm and purpose, following a well-charted course under nimble, humble leadership.  In the midst of making it work, we find time to look up.

Then the best part happens: we look in the eyes of the person next to us who just felt the same sense of awe.  And we smile.

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