When life is hard, how can we cultivate hope?

Well there's prioritising a good start every day. Setting the tone for team togetherness is something we are intentional about. For the year I’ve been here and perhaps since before then, we’ve started the day with what’s called “doing 9:30”, at that time [the time most people are around], the call goes out, a location is found, somewhere quiet and ideally warm. The purpose of this gathering is to acknowledge each other, for some people, it’s the first time a human has looked them in the eye, smiled and said good morning and what an easy win that is for the team. Three or four times a week then do a round of ‘thankfulness’ taking it in turn to say what, in this moment or in life we are feeling thankful for. This has been a tremendously powerful way to set the tone for the day and perhaps even helps set our culture with a posture of gratitude.

We’ve had some stunning moments. The real tear jerkers are when we sense some beef between two people and then, before that position becomes entrenched, one of them reaches out with some specific gratitude about the other person and the whole team is lifted, whilst turning ‘them’ back into ‘us’. One of lads Jack has been hanging out with a new group of more mature friends with more legal interests. He told me that some of them get down and depressed and missed it when HE didn’t enquire of them, what it is that they are thankful for. So he’s back doing it with them again, and life is better when Jack is bringing thankfulness into the group. It has been surprising and good to see, a habit established at work, reach out into our community without prompting. It suggests to me that there is something true and vital about it.

Being thankful and taking the time to name that that we are thankful for and doing that as a team helps. Life is a struggle and if we aren’t vigilant we can slip down. This practice helps us to see there is force in life that can also pull us up and forward and often that is each other. For those of us following Jesus, thankfulness is something often hot-wired into our prayers since childhood. To have an opportunity to share this benefit in a safe secular work setting is a privilege. Stopping the morning even as it’s just getting going, perhaps killing any momentum of work, is a reckless thing from a profit perspective, and often annoying. We’ve noticed though that taking fifteen minutes together every morning is one the most obvious ways we live out our value, People before Profit. It’s not people instead of profit, it’s as well as, and profit, totally necessary if we are to prosper, is surely an outcome of us having a right relationship with each other. People. The downside is that not everyone can be together at 9:30. Drivers and drivers mates need to have left and the effect of them missing this metronome has it’s implications.

In time we may so clearly identify with the benefits that we reschedule our driving rounds to only leave once 9:30 has finished, massively increasing the chances of everyone being together.

Another option, a risky option, is that we disband the 9:30 together time and Will, the other team leaders and I, take on the responsibility of asking people what they are thankful for when we see each other.

These together times do have a limit. Beyond 12 familiar faces, the formulas breaks down and it is only the gregarious characters that can take the spotlight whilst everyone else slumps back and disengages. We’ve also observed that more than one new face can break the esprit de corp,whilst having new people along can helpfully shake things up. We also use this time for what we call ‘Daily Bread’. This is where what we need today is verbalised and or written on the wall. It’s astounding how strong our desire is to meet that need and doing it as a team really helps build the team.

There are lots of things that the 9:30 aren’t and it’s this that we are now turning our attention to. This is needing it’s own blog, but in a nutshell, we are realising for ourselves and each other an excellent ingredient for each morning is positioning ourselves towards our shared goals.