Giant Small Talk: The NBA Finals

Let’s say you’re sitting around the office watercooler (is this still a thing?) or some other work gathering area where small talk happens. But you don’t want to keep the talk small. You want to use the trending topics of the day to dig into deeper issues of work and meaning and how to make a good life. Maybe you make things weird in the moment or maybe you wait until a more appropriate time for a good conversation.

But let’s just imagine that this week, you find yourself in conversations about the NBA Finals and how strange it is that the same two teams have been the last ones standing for four years in a row.  Maybe you ease into the conversation by talking about this great little gift from some mad scientist on the internet imagining the Finals as an 80s sitcom with familiar faces and plot lines.

Maybe you wade into the well-traveled but still murky waters over whether LeBron really is the GOAT and whether he is a good citizen of the state of Ohio.

We could also talk about other stories we repeat or the stories to which we return. Why do we love watching “The Office” when we already know the ending?  What is it about familiar stories that we find so comforting? What is it about familiar stories that we also find boring?

As we wonder about whether it’s good or bad to revisit the same matchup, we also have a chance to think about larger patterns and questions on life and work:

-Where do you see patterns in the work around you? Does your organization end up in the same place every year? If it’s in the equivalent of the NBA Finals, that’s great. If it’s watching from the equivalent of the couch with your jersey already packed away for the summer, that might not be as great.

-Is there goodness around you that ought to be celebrated instead of taken for granted? Whose consistency keeps the good patterns alive?

-Are there rhythms to your work or your organization’s work that set some up for repeated success or reward one group over the other on a regular basis? If I’m in rooms where the NBA makes decisions, I’d ask this question to keep things interesting. Maybe it could help in other rooms too.

-In your own life and work, if you had to choose between regularity and rejuvenation, which would be most important to you and why?