Reach­ing the fin­ish line with a broom -

How respect and the right spirit lead to top performance or how the "Code of Curling" can help you.

Why the “Spir­it of Curl­ing” would help many com­pa­nies

Do you know curl­ing? Even in the few coun­tries where curl­ing is played pro­fes­sion­al­ly, this ques­tion is usu­al­ly met with a shake of the head or an amused com­ment: “Those are the ones scrub­bing the ice with a broom, it looks real­ly fun­ny, but pret­ty weird…”

The world cham­pi­onships recent­ly took place in Cana­da and Switzer­land respec­tive­ly. Any­one who has ever watched an entire game for hours and wit­nessed a mil­lime­tre deci­sion on the last stone (after around 160 stones have been played) knows that there is a lot behind it. Speed, the small rota­tion, a pre­cise sense of pro­por­tion, max­i­mum con­cen­tra­tion, assess­ing the con­stant­ly chang­ing ice con­di­tions, inten­sive team­work, brute strength paired with a sure instinct, tim­ing, the metic­u­lous­ly prac­tised allo­ca­tion of tasks and roles — and last but not least the broom, which has to get the stone to the fin­ish line with the right tra­jec­to­ry, the exact speed and the drift (curl) — and which can make the dif­fer­ence between vic­to­ry and defeat. There are also tac­tics, deal­ing with pres­sure, inten­sive team­work and much more.

Many com­pa­nies would con­sid­er them­selves lucky to have employ­ees with such a mix of skills. But a clos­er look reveals some addi­tion­al and less obvi­ous behav­iours. The play­ers com­mu­ni­cate with each oth­er con­stant­ly, usu­al­ly calm­ly and clear­ly, inter­rupt­ed only by the slight­ly loud­er shouts from the oth­er end of the ice field so that the nec­es­sary cor­rec­tions by the wipers can be heard at all.

It is a high­ly focussed, respect­ful and friend­ly inter­ac­tion — both with each oth­er and with the oppo­nent. And if the World Cup medal has just been lost by a cen­time­tre, the opponent’s hand is shak­en appre­cia­tive­ly. A pro­fes­sion­al­ism that I would wish for in many col­lab­o­ra­tive sit­u­a­tions in every­day work­ing life. This spe­cial atmos­phere is shared by young and old, ama­teurs and pro­fes­sion­als alike. And it is pre­cise­ly this spir­it that fas­ci­nates me.

It exists, this “code”, and it is sim­ply called the “Spir­it of Curl­ing.” This is an offi­cial addi­tion to the rules of the game and reads like a guide to fair play with rules of decen­cy, once laid down by the Cana­di­an Curl­ing Asso­ci­a­tion. It is a mat­ter of course for all curlers world­wide to abide by these rules.

A curler…

… always behaves decent­ly and cour­te­ous­ly.

… plays to win, not to humil­i­ate his oppo­nent.

… will nev­er try to dis­tract his oppo­nent or pre­vent him from doing his best.

… will nev­er try to gain an advan­tage by any means oth­er than the pos­si­bil­i­ties offered by the game.

… must first learn to lose, only then is he wor­thy of win­ning.

… prefers a defeat to an unfair vic­to­ry.

… nev­er delib­er­ate­ly breaks the rules of the game or any of the writ­ten tra­di­tions.

… will nev­er do any­thing that he does not expect from his fel­low play­ers.

… always decides in favour of his oppo­nent in dis­putes.

… appre­ci­ates and recog­nis­es a good per­for­mance by his oppo­nent.

… does not crit­i­cise or insult his team­mates or oppo­nents.

… always con­cen­trates on the game and always gives his best.

… who makes a mis­take is the first to admit it.

… who touch­es or over­slides a run­ning stone, announces this imme­di­ate­ly.

… invites his direct oppo­nent for a drink when he has won.

… will nev­er take advan­tage of an invi­ta­tion to order expen­sive drinks.

… always behaves in a fair and sport­ing man­ner.

That may sound a lit­tle ide­al­is­tic or old-fash­ioned — real­ly? What is pos­si­ble on the ice around the world should also be pos­si­ble in small teams and com­pa­nies. For my part I enjoy work­ing in such a respect­ful atmos­phere. Let’s take a lit­tle of this spir­it with us into our every­day lives and pro­fes­sion­alise our­selves not only in the mat­ter at hand, but also in our deal­ings with one anoth­er.

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Urs Bolter

As a “part-time co-pilot”, I help organisations to master the desired developments in a qualitative cooperation.. At times it feels like being a globe-trotting doctor, plumber, architect, diplomat or pedagogic entrepreneur with a sporty side.