What more can be said about the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony on Friday night? I was fortunate enough to have been there to witness Danny Boyle’s spectacular show that began by bringing to life Blake’s Jerusalem and went on to include Queen Elizabeth parachuting into the stadium with James Bond!
But one of the most incredible facts worth remembering about this enormous event is that most of those people were all volunteers. Even the girl dancing the lead role in the ‘typical British family’ section was not a professional dancer and many of the dancers in the NHS section were real doctors and nurses.
Over 15,000 people volunteered to take part in this opening ceremony and each person has trained and rehearsed for over 150 hours to ensure they got their part right. It was an enormous operation and Danny Boyle managed it all to perfection.
There have been calls from some Brazilian MPs this week to discourage the use of volunteers at events like this – they are calling for the performers at the Rio games to be paid, but I think this misses the point.
The volunteers were not being exploited, they were involved in the event because they were passionate about representing their country and making London look great to everyone watching across the world.
Can you imagine creating that passion in your workplace? Psychologists tell us that people don’t just come into work for the money; they want recognition and the ability to learn and make a difference. If every workplace could generate the kind of loyalty and passion that these Olympic volunteers exhibited I can’t imagine anyone would ever want to leave their job!
Photo by Nick Webb licensed under Creative Commons