When bad things go good

Something scary happened at The Biz Dojo this week. And then something magical happened too. It was worrying, and then heartwarming. It was powerful for those involved, and it was comforting. It blurred the lines between strangers, friends, colleagues, and peers. It formed bonds, and new connections.

Perhaps I’ve done a bad job at managing your expectations of what this event was. I’ve definitely overhyped it, and now I’m just blabbing, to keep you hanging. But, if you’re still reading, I’ve done my job. Here’s where the story unfolds.

A few days back one of the residents at the office suffered an allergic reaction of sorts. This wasn’t your run of the mill rash on the forearm that occurs when you frolic through a field of pollen-filled sunflowers and poison ivy. We’re talking a full blown, nuclear holocaust of the lungs, knocked on the head with a bowling ball, I-polished-off-a-bottle-of-vodka-in-only-15-minutes type of reaction. Ok maybe I’m exaggerating. It wasn’t quite the type of anaphylactic shock that kids at American school camps experience when they walk into a room that once housed some peanut butter - but it was up there (actually, if you want another version of the story, you can check out Sarin’s take on events and five awesome hints about keeping your community safe).

Who would have thought that a little bit of light-headedness and a small headache would have so suddenly unfolded into that? Before we knew it, a few people ran in, first aiders jumped to the rescue, someone was straight on the phone to an ambulance, and another dashed off to get a bucket of water and towels. The office jumped to alertness, everyone of course was interested in the spectacle.

But a super cool thing happened. Order and efficiency remained present. It was like a well coordinated fire drill, unfolding exactly like the school principal would have wanted to see. The right people were there, doing what they could out of the goodness of their hearts, and those that couldn’t help decided to step back and create space. There was no cluttering of people, no Biz Dojo residents jumping in trying to over complicate the situation. People just did what needed to be done, both actively and passively.

This was a wonderful thing to see. As studies in social psychology show time and time again, situations like these so often prompt “the bystander effect” and “diffusion of responsibility.” Viral Social media videos often shows CCTV footage of people being injured or suddenly collapsing in public places and no one even batting an eye. Life continues as usual while someone in need goes unnoticed. Often people watch in awe as something startling happens without actually doing anything to help the situation.

But in this instance, a handful of people seemingly unrelated to the victim ran straight in to help her out, and to help maintain order on the premises. I was merely a bystander, but it was heart-warming to see and experience. It instilled confidence in our community. It connected all those involved, and it showed us that we look after each other. In fact, the lady of the moment - the star of the show was also not left to be alone when in hospital. We had members of the community join her and spend their evenings there too. I can safely say she feels cared for and safer here than ever before, even after experiencing something so potentially world-shattering.

Community, you see. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what The Biz Dojo is all about. Connecting people not just so that they’ll profit through collective and collaborative knowledge, but also so that they’ll thrive in times of hardship and darkness. As management, we see it happening all the time in subtle ways, but not with this much physical and visual presence. This was a time that many experienced the bond that we have in this place that would ordinarily be only for work.

Gil Amir is the Community and Communications Coordinator of BizDojo Auckland.