I spent my childhood at the club, nearly every Saturday night in the '80s and '90s at the Tri-City Association of the Deaf (T.C.A.D.) in Saginaw, Michigan. As this newsletter evolves, you'll read stories and lessons from the club. My parents were staples, and my father was a past president. The Deaf Club was where I first learned about the dynamics of culture.
Tri-City Association of the Deaf
Lesson One: Celebrate Your Community
As a CODA, constantly navigating between two different cultures, we grew up in what I consider a "Third Culture." If you were there as a child of a member, you were part of the tribe. The club sought reasons to celebrate with each CODA. When you made the honor roll, they honored you. If you were on a sports team, they made your athletic feats sound legendary. In that building, if you were a CODA, you belonged, and every single Deaf person embraced you.
Today, I encourage you to make your community one where members feel special and celebrated.
Lesson Two: Resolve Conflict Privately and Swiftly
Contrary to popular belief, this club was not quiet; it could rival any hearing club in terms of noise level. A jukebox in the corner, televisions on max volume, and animated conversations were regular occurrences. Despite the lively atmosphere, when a spirited debate took place, conflict resolution happened in a tiny office at the speed of a freight train.
My friends, evaluate how you resolve conflict today. Is it private and swift, or is it out in the open and lingering? Try to handle it privately and swiftly.
Lesson Three: Teammates Should Have Each Other's Backs
Members innately understood Aesop's quote, "United we stand, divided we fall." This was most evident in local recreation leagues. Watching club members on the softball diamond and basketball court, I saw teams winning league titles, getting into scuffles, and bringing the club together through sports. Teammates were crucial to the culture. The last of the three lessons listed is the one I hold most true to the teams I've led over my career.
Today, understand that your teammates contribute to the team culture. Ask yourself, do teammates have each other's backs?
1. Celebrate your community
2. Resolve Conflict Privately and Swiftly
3. Teammates Should Have Each Other's Backs
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