By Clem Harrod
There is a Zulu word that Nelson Mandela often used to inspire the people of South Africa: Ubuntu. The most common translation for it is I am because we are. It is a philosophy for teamwork at a different level, one where everyone is being the best they can, for the greater good. If you happen to catch the interview with Coach Doc Rivers on the Netflix show, Playbook, you’ll hear him talk about how he and the Boston Celtics lived by the Ubuntu philosophy, in good times and bad.
Ubuntu recognizes and celebrates each person’s uniqueness, their skills, their talents, and sees them as part of a universal effort. It’s about belonging to every person around you, and them belonging to you, so that you are collectively working to make the world a better place. Then by extension, we are all giving others grace in their humanity.
Ironically, Doc Rivers was the head coach of the Orlando Magic when I first started working there. This philosophy took root in his coaching a few years later, but I have believed in Ubuntu from my first day in production. You have to. Many of us travel to work events, and on those trips, we inevitably build relationships and friendships with one another. Sometimes our home lives suffer, and sometimes we take our own frustrations out on people at work.
When you come from a place of Ubuntu, you look at each other as not just a fellow technician or team member, but more so a brother or sister. With Ubuntu, your compassion for one another is immeasurable. “Where you may have fallen short, I will take on your load, and where I am falling short, I pray you will be my support.”
When I was in college and pledged my fraternity, we had a ritual where we carried our line brothers on our back and ran across campus chanting, “He’s my brother; he’s not heavy!” This taught us to support one another, and that the load we carry is not our own. It is bearable because my brother is there with me.
When we work an event, we all have a common goal to accomplish. We are going to do it together, and we should all look to do it with the best possible attitude. None of us can take this journey alone, and the more we support each other, the more we are supported in turn.
No one in the audience knows the amount of work that went into creating the masterpiece they are experiencing. They can’t comprehend the hours of prep and labor that was put into that one event for that one client, and they don’t realize it was a massive team effort. There’s no way I could walk into a ballroom and build a complete show from audio, video, staging, rigging, and lighting by myself. Nor would I want to. We are all dependent upon one another for our individual success.
When you understand that, you will approach and treat your job differently. People will then approach and treat you differently because they know you are going to do what it takes to help others succeed. You will find more satisfaction and pride in your craft, and every day you work, you will feel blessed.
When you are in an industry that you love, and you feel passionate about your work, you will naturally execute everything to the best of your ability. When I got into this field, I had no idea how much money I could make. I was here because I was excited to use the gifts and talents God gave me. Because I was focused only on doing my best, serving others, and taking ownership of what mattered, the money followed. With every single job, I put my heart and soul into the work because the image on the screen is just as much a reflection of my love for this industry as it is for my client.