The one-armed wonder- Disability not a deterrent for Bruna


By N Jagannath Das – HYDERABAD

10th December 2012 08:36 AM, IE

She is indeed a one-armed wonder. Having lost her right arm at the age of three years, because of a doctor’s blunder for injecting a wrong vaccine, Bruna Alexandre has lived to fight the handicap with more able-bodied peers. The 17-year-old is a member of the Brazilian team that is taking part in the Volkswagen 10th World Junior Table Tennis championship being held at the SAP Indoor Stadium in Gachibowli. Bruna did not disappoint in her first outing when she routed Lucena Josmary of Venezula 11-3, 11-7, 11-6 in Brazil’s 3-0 win in the first match today.

She earned a place in the main team after some creditable performances in the national tournaments and is currently the third best player in her country in the junior rankings. Coach Lincon Yasuda says that Bruna is one of the most talented players of their country. “She plays an aggressive game. She plays a lot of top spin and plays far and across the table,” said Yasuda.

Bruna participated in the London Paralympics where she lost in the quarter-finals to a Chinese player. “It was one of my best performances,” said Bruna, who had earlier won numerous tournaments in her country. She idolizes Natalia Partyka, a one-armed table tennis player from Poland. Partyka was born without a right hand and forearm. Like Partyka, Bruna dreams of participating in the Olympics too. “I’m inspired by Natalia. One day, even I want to play at the Olympics,” said Bruna, who is also fan of Kaka, the famous Brazilian football player for a simple reason that he is handsome.

Hailing from Santa Katrina, which lies south of Brazil, Bruna’s love for table tennis started because of her brother Bruno at the age of eight years. “I used to accompany my brother to the nearby club where I got attracted to the game. Initially, I thought it would be difficult to play with one hand but gradually I began to get a feel of the racket and began to play,” she pointed out.

However, it was the service that bothered her initially. “I used to keep the racket in the handicap right-arm pit and then throw the ball up. But I found it difficult as the racket became wet and I had to change my style. I began to practice to throw the ball up and then go for the service. It took two months to perfect it,” said Bruna, who now holds the racket and puts the ball on top of the thumb of her left hand before tossing it for service. It took a little while before her talent and the game was noticed. She began to win tournaments before even being picked for the state and the national squads. Bruna has played at eight international para table tennis tournaments, including the London Paralympics. In individual and team events, she has played about 66 matches, won 56 of them. This is her maiden trip to India. “I want to make it a memorable one,” she said with a smiling face.

The Olympics’ Greatest Feat: An Unpaid, Highly Engaged Workforce


by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones  |   August 8, 2012, Harvard Buisness Review

They are all over the Games. They greet you at the airport. They direct you from the trains. They guide you through the Olympic Park. Danny Boyle acknowledged them as the key to the success of the opening ceremony.

There are 70,000 of them, constituting nearly half of the Olympic workforce, Britain’s biggest peacetime mobilization of people since the Second World War. They make this extraordinary event possible.

They are the volunteers … and they are everywhere.

Their approach is a joy. They talk to strangers with enthusiasm. They make jokes about the weather. They are helpful and polite. They love what they are doing. They say “have a nice day.” And they mean it.

When visitors marvel about the spirit of the games, the volunteers are a very big part of it. They are drawn from every corner of the UK and every background. Filling their ranks are students and pensioners, the unemployed alongside high flyers. A very senior oil executive who is a neighbor of ours was at Heathrow greeting incoming teams at 5:00 in the morning. He loved it.

What’s more, their enthusiasm is contagious. It affects others who are “normal” employees. Airport staff seem to have a new spring in their step. Policemen have a smile. The underground staff are really keen to help you on your way. The people cleaning tables at the food stalls pause to ask how you are.

What these workers are doing is exceeding the normal expectations of their roles. And what a difference it makes. We get carried along, too. As “customers“? Well, not really. We feel in partnership, sharing a joint enthusiasm for what is unfolding in front of us. We are in this together as people.

A theme of our recent research is that, when people interact with an enterprise, they don’t want to encounter mere role-players—no matter how skilful they might be in their roles. They want authenticity, a sense that people are personally invested in their work. Curiously, the unpaid volunteers are providing just that sense. They are expressing their personal quirks and foibles in the seemingly mundane activities of giving people directions. They are expressing overwhelming enthusiasm and pride in taking part in something positive and important.

So what can the corporate world learn from all this? Certainly it is a world in which managers talk solemnly about their “engagement” efforts. And certainly that is because disengagement—a deep-rooted disenchantment with work—is a pervasive problem.

The Olympic volunteers remind us what real engagement looks like. They show us what organizations that fan the enthusiasm of their participants can deliver. They give new life to the old-fashioned notion that good work gives us good societies.

Of course, we sometimes see such passion in the business world, in the wild enthusiasms of R&D professionals in innovative engineering and pharmaceutical companies. Or more mundanely, when a shop assistant dispenses honest advice, drawing on long experience and real empathy for the problem a customer is trying to solve. We see it in the greengrocer who points with pride to the freshest vegetables, and the bartender who greets you by name and knows your favorite drink.

The “authentic organizations” we’ve found in our research are set apart by these small markers of humanity—and we’re finding that they outperform their competitors in the marketplace.

Here’s what we’re concluding: If companies organized more to draw on and fuel enthusiasms, and less to maximize efficiency, the problem of disengagement would be gone forever. The volunteers of the Olympics hint at what an alternative customer experience might look like. And it looks very exciting.

Rob Goffee is a professor of organizational behavior at London Business School. Gareth Jones is a visiting professor at IE Business School, in Madrid, and a Fellow of the Centre for Management Development at London Business School. They are the authors of Cleverand Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?.

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