Since the recent death of Michael Jackson, many people have made their way back to YouTube to watch the popular Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center inmates perform their version of Thriller- one among a repertoire of songs and choreographed numbers that the approximately 1500 inmates have practiced and performed over the last few years. Much can be learned from this daily afternoon prison break.
Watching the video and reading some of the press around the prison and this alternative physical fitness program reminded me of how important it is for individuals to have goals and to feel a sense of pride in what they do everyday.
In one article that I read, an inmate talks about how in the past, there was nothing to do in the afternoons but go back to their cells and talk or sleep. He then goes on to describe how different things are since the new program started- people busy preparing for their upcoming shows, keeping cells neat and clean, and even greeting one another in the morning.
So basically, this sense of purpose and pride is rehabilitating these prisoners to some degree and making it a much more pleasant environment for everyone involved. There was even less violence exhibited in the first year of the program, with not one fight breaking out in the prison.
There are many factors that contribute to effective, happy teams, but this example was a good reminder for me that people are happiest when they have that sense of purpose, a common goal to work towards that they believe in and when they are having fun. It might not be dancing to Thriller for all of us, but I guess the trick is figuring it out!