A Strong Funny Bone Can’t Be Broken

On an ordinary sunny afternoon, after an energetic workout at the gym, I tripped at home over a shoe (my shoe) and sprawled face first with outstretched arms onto the tile floor of our kitchen. Ouch! Two broken elbows, a cracked wrist and several strained ligaments later I once again experienced everything changing in an instant. I wasn’t laughing. At first….

Have you ever felt slammed with problems and dependent on others for help? One misstep, just a slight misjudgment, is all it takes to equal disaster. Sometimes it’s not even your misstep, but you’re the one left to deal with the fallout. Then what?

At first I couldn’t feed myself or even go to the bathroom alone. My husband, bless his heart, commented with an ironic grin that when he had said, “For better or for worse…” he didn’t exactly have this in mind! Me neither. Although I was pretty happy when he plunked a straw in a glass of Chardonnay and held it to my mouth. One day, after he had lifted me into the bathtub for the umpteenth time and literally washed my feet, I quipped, “I should wear a tiara while you say, ‘As you wish Princess.'” Seemed like a good idea to me. “Nice try. NO.” was the unequivocal answer. My job was just to keep a sense of humor and a spirit of humility. Interestingly, his job was to do the same. That’s real teamwork. We do what we didn’t sign up for and we make it fun.

Acts of service build resilient relationships, whether in a marriage or a work team. But that’s not the whole story. When we can give and receive with humor we go beyond resilience and dive into the realm of fortitude. That’s where you find the secret sauce for to how to get slammed down and get back up with a smile.

People with fortitude have a strong funny bone. As one veteran said , “Humor saved my brothers and me more than our kevlar did. Humor kept us sane, in insane situations and without humor, we wouldn’t have survived during combat, nor post-war.” (Caution: the content in the linked discussion contains graphic descriptions.)

Getting a laugh not only contributes to healthy coping skills, a new study published in the journal of Cognitive Processing links appreciation of dark humor with higher intelligence, lower aggression and lighter mood. Would you like to be smarter, kinder and happier? Laugh during difficult times!

Leaders magnetically create communities of fortitude by first becoming people of fortitude. As Malcom X famously said, “We can’t teach what we don’t know, and we can’t lead where we can’t go.” When circumstances slam you down and no matter how hard you get knocked around, remember this: a strong funny bone can’t be broken. While strengthening your mind at work and your body at the gym (you do that every day, right?), don’t leave out fortifying your funny.

I help organizations build whole-hearted communities through ‘half-assed’ leadership. We work together in three ways: speaking, consulting, and executive coaching. Step up from the ordinary… Contact me today.

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