It’s All About the Peanuts!

Cynthia Sysol

Cynthia Sysol (IL '12) assistant general counsel, RecoverCare LLC

-Ignite Louisville 2012 Opening Retreat

Just imagine. An all expenses paid trip to a remote tropical island. As you board the small prop plane you barely notice the six other individuals boarding with you as you already have one foot in paradise. The sky is clear blue, the breeze ever so soft. You can practically taste the sunshine. Life couldn’t get any better than this.

Then….BAM!!!! You wake up a survivor of a plane crash with six total strangers and only a handful of salvageable items. As your head spins you hear others shouting, “Let’s get off this island” followed by shouts of “Let’s set up camp.” How did this happen? How could it happen? What are you going to do?

It is here, in this unbelievable scenario, you learn the value of a team. At first, chaos might ensue. You look around at the remaining items: a lighter, suitcase, a bag of peanuts, flashlight, compass, blanket, tool box, magazine, water bottle, airplane seats, and a flare. Hands grab to what is perceived as the most important items. However, no one can get everything they want. Next, communication begins. People discuss what items are available and what they can be used for. Rationalizing and justifying every angle. Tempers may flare as some argue “it’s all about the peanuts” while other dispute the nutritional value of a single peanut.

Communication may break down and rebuild only to be broken again. A leader may emerge or the most silent member may all of a sudden speak with confidence and reason. Group dynamics form, communication strengthens, bonds develop, and a common good mentality emerges. Finally, decisions are made with majority agreement: keep the lighter, toss the peanuts. The group is formed.

Through a teambuilding exercise, we were asked to select a few items after a plane crash. My group went through most of these steps discussing and disagreeing along the way, but ultimately coming to a consensus. Although the process may have been arduous, in the end we couldn’t have been more proud of the group as a whole and firmly stood behind the decisions made.

The process, traits, and dynamics of a group resonate in almost every aspect of our lives. Family gatherings, business settings, and leisure activities involve at various times, chaos, communication, break down, anger, insight, and consensus. Whether we are defined by a name, jersey, or other identifier, we are a part of a team more than we know. Ignite Louisville reminded us that not only does a team require a full set of complementary skills to achieve a task but that in some cases, it may just be all about the peanuts.

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