Groupthink

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sharperFocus

by Linda Manhardt, Major –

My first Christmas in the Philippines! They certainly do things a little differently here!

Each morning during the Red Shield Campaign, (Monday through Saturday), the cadets are driven to Manila to stand kettles. The cadets are given about a dollar each to buy lunch when they leave in the morning, and sometimes they don’t return to the Officer Training College (OTC) compound until after 10:00 p.m.! The next morning, the staff and cadets join together to count their money, and off they go again to Manila. The trip back and forth usually takes over three hours, yet amazingly, I did not hear complaints!

We record each day’s income on a chart drawn on the classroom chalkboard. In this way, we can track each cadet and location to see how they are doing.

During the first week of the campaign—in an effort to encourage them, I decided that the top kettle worker would receive a prize. My goal was to generate a sense of excitement and to motivate the cadets to try even harder. So, during the counting, when everybody was there, I made the big announcement about the prize.

Well, my big motivational idea went over like lead balloon! This was odd. Who didn’t want a prize for winning?

Somewhat timidly and respectfully, it was suggested that I set a goal for the group, and give a small prize to each cadet if we surpassed our group goal.

I am such an American! Here I was, trying to use an individualistic, competitive form of motivation, when what was needed was group motivation. The cadets did not want to surpass one another in the achievement. They wanted everybody to win. And in the end, everybody did!

I was struck again yesterday with the cultural norm of functioning as a group instead of as individuals. We were in our weekly assembly meeting, and one cadet sang a solo for the first time before the group. He did a fine job, and I was touched by the sincerity and simplicity of his offering. Once again, I found myself enveloped in this wonderful “groupthink” way of being.

Slowly, as he moved through the verses, the other cadets gently joined in. At first, it was barely noticeable, but the support of the group became stronger and stronger as he sang. By the end of the song, with his voice in the lead, he was accompanied by the sweet voices of the entire cadet body.

It moved me to be a part of this magical movement of Christ’s body in total harmony and unity, and I knew that I was experiencing the type of New Testament “church” that Jesus had in mind—a church that is mutually supportive of each member—a body that lifts one another up—a church that is a place where one person’s success is everybody’s success.

It is such an awesome privilege to be in a place where the commonplace and ordinary things of everyday life can become extraordinary discoveries.

You don’t necessarily have to be a missionary to be in this place of discovery, but it helps.

This place is an attitude of the heart.

Oh, I have so much to learn!


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