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Whistle While You Work (But Only if You're Winning)

by Ross Smith on December 1, 2010


ross-smith's picture

Whistle While You Work (But Only if You're Winning)

We're all for smiling at work—that is, until we start losing.

Just watch what happened when the Arizona Cardinals quarterback Derek Anderson was caught smiling and laughing during the Cardinals 27-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night football. A short video clip of the lighthearted moment has triggered a bit of a frenzy. Post-game questions about the incident resulted in a tirade from Anderson and set off a storm of discussion in locker rooms and sports talk radio shows all over the country.

Here is a NY Times blog post. Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard spoofed the Anderson episode here. Criticism from former Laker’s star Magic Johnson on Jimmy Kimmel here. Here is Cardinals coach Ken Wisenhunt’s press conference. The Arizona Republic reporter who asked the question, Kent Somers, has a blog here

It raises an interesting question for the Take the Work out of Work Moonshot...

Is it OK to have fun, play, and enjoy the work you’re doing if the business results are less than favorable? In other words, is smiling only allowed when you're winning?


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francisco-laborde's picture
I feel that Derek Anderson's fault was not the smile (after all Hines Ward smiles even when he drops the ball), but the nonchalant attitude. The problem is that he was laughing instead of studying the game pics, reviewing trajectories with his receivers, checking the calls with his linemen or reviewing strategy with the coaches.
ross-smith's picture

Hey Francisco

Yes, I agree (and thank you for your comment) -- what was interesting to me was that nonchalant attitudes are acceptable when the team is winning. One could argue that there's always a benefit to studying game pics, reviewing receiver routes, talking with coaches, etc. - I'm not a Cardinals fan per se, but I think they miss Kurt Warner - I'm sure there are video clips of him smiling in a loss too... Less than stellar results bring a higher degree of scrutiny - whether it's the NFL or the workplace.

The whole incident got me thinking about 'the rest of us' - in regular jobs : ) -- and the ideas behind the 'Take the Work out of Work' moonshot -- and how would the same scrutiny it only OK to have fun at work if the organization is profitable? Beating competition? Winning in the market? And if the company is NOT an industry or profitability leader, should the employees be studying strategy, understanding competitors, talking with managers - taking things more seriously - or are they are allowed to smile and laugh?

I don't pretend to know the right answer - and it would obviously vary by situation, but I thought there were some interesting parallels between Derek Anderson and employees everywhere ...definitely some food for thought....

Thanks for reading