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A Lesson Taught By Balloons.

Updated on March 21, 2014

Recently, 50 people were attending a self-help seminar. After sitting through lecture after lecture about feeling good and managing their finances better, something peculiar happened. Nobody expected to learn such a powerful lesson on this day.

It gets interesting.

Without so much as finishing his sentence, the speaker picked up a bag full of balloons and started to distribute them. Looks of confusion spread through the group of participants. What are we doing with balloons? The speaker wasn't explaining anything just yet, he was still speaking on his previous, unrelated topic for the moment.

Finally the speaker asked the participants to blow up their balloons. Not really understanding why, but eager to figure it out, they did. Once everyone had finished and tied the necks of the balloons off so they don't deflate, the speaker distributed some magic-marker pens to the group. He then asked the participants to write their names on the balloon.

Okay this is starting to get weird, where's this going?


The Room

The speaker just stood smiling as everyone finished writing their names. He had a plan, but nobody was any the wiser what it was going to be.

Next, the speaker asked the participants of the seminar to place their balloons in a room. At this point in the seminar there are now 50 balloons with names on them, randomly thrown into a room. What is this guy thinking?

Everyone can have fun in a room full of balloons.

Ready, Set, Go!

Once everyone finished placing their balloons in the room, the real fun - and the real lesson - finally began.

The speaker instructed everyone present to pile into the room that held the balloons. The real chaos and hilarity started when the speaker gave everyone 5 minutes to find their balloon.

Everyone present was running in circles, bouncing into each other like ping-pong balls in a clothes drying machine. It is quite the hilarious sight to see 50 grown men and women frantically running through a room full of balloons, searching relentlessly for the single balloon with their name on it. This went on for the full 5 minutes.

In the end, nobody had accomplished their goal. Not a single person had found the balloon they sought after. A feeling of failure spread through the room, but that wouldn't last long, the message was about to be driven home.

The speaker moved on to the next part of his presentation. He then asked everyone to stand up and walk into the room. Then he had them each pick up just one balloon. They were to read the name on the balloon, find the owner, and hand it back to them. It’s that simple. Within 2 minutes every single person in the room had the balloon with their own name on it.

The speaker began to explain, you see, when everyone is seeking their own happiness, it becomes lost in the crowd and is near impossible to find - but when everyone works together to help others find their happiness, their own happiness can be found much more easily.


Let's analyze.

Our society is one in which the majority of the people are out for their own well being. It's sad to say it, but it's true. Many are simply out in the world, vying for their own needs - their own happiness. Everyone is more important, in their own mind, than anyone else.

The issue here is one that, as shown by the above scenario, happiness can't be achieved on your own. It is through helping others find their happiness, and working together towards that happiness, that one's own happiness is truly achieved.

Let's look at this through another perspective. Instead of happiness, let's apply this same philosophy to a team project, and the goals therein. We all know that teamwork is important and much more effective than running solo, right?

The entire balloon scenario can be applied directly to the idea of teamwork. Think of it as the project has 50 team members, and 50 separate objectives. If everyone works together to complete those 50 objectives, the project will be successful. If they don't, the project fails. They all fail.

The solid truth is, when all the team mates help each other complete their collective goals, that team becomes truly successful. The power of teamwork is truly inarguable.


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    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I'll have to remember this. What a great ice breaker for workshops and stuff. Even a classroom. Great simulation game. Thanks!

    • promisem profile image

      Scott S Bateman 

      3 years ago

      My compliments for the originality of this Hub! The title alone caught my eye, and I wasn't disappointed when I read it.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      What a powerful lesson and you narrated the story very well. Voted Up!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      3 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I love your balloon story. What a great way to make the point that when we help others we help ourselves. voted up ++

    • RTalloni profile image


      4 years ago from the short journey

      Interesting object lesson, and it would be a neat thing if everyone were willing to learn and heed it.

    • tehgyb profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Colfax 

      5 years ago from Easton, Pennsylvania

      Thanks! This was a very fun hub to write, as well. I'm so happy you enjoyed it!

    • BNadyn profile image


      5 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

      I like how the speaker kept everyone in suspense to what was happening. What a helpful exercise to point out the lesson he was teaching. I enjoyed reading this and will be sharing. :)

    • tehgyb profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Colfax 

      5 years ago from Easton, Pennsylvania

      Thanks Bill, Definitely funny that you've run into it twice in the same week!

      Hope you enjoy that book as well :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oddly I had just read about this exercise in some book I was reading. Weird that I would come across it twice in one week. Anyway, it is an interesting and valuable lesson.


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