Burstability just sounds exciting. Does it mean something packed so tight it could pop at any moment (like a balloon)? Or is burstability being so filled with ideas and magic that one cannot be contained? It turns out burstability is a technical term meaning “having the ability to exceed the normal maximum bandwidth for short periods” but don’t let that slow you down. Lots of other people think the word means more.
Adam Grant built a whole podcast around it, for example. In his view, burstability means a group with a creative dynamic so intense people literally pour their ideas out pell-mell, so excited and on fire that they can’t help but interrupt one other in their desire to find the answer they are all collectively seeking.
When I heard his podcast, I thought about us at the Latika Roy Foundation. Because this team is just so burstable! Give them an idea to run with and in minutes, like a practiced improv group or a jazz band, they’ve got a skit worked out or a song ready to perform, never looking down or sideways for approval or direction.
Is it from working constantly with kids who don’t follow the predictable patterns of development? Kids who live outside the boxes, who go by their own rules, communicate in their own languages and surprise us daily with their originality and ways of being?
It might be. Improv and creativity is built into the role of a special educator or a therapist. You have to think on your feet, respond in the moment and build on whatever ideas present themselves – often the crazier and more unlikely the better.
I thought about that again when they organized a surprise birthday party. For me. For my 60th.
I told them I didn’t want a party this year and I really thought I meant it. “No party!” I told everyone. But when I walked into the office on March 19th and saw that they had taken me seriously, I was pierced with disappointment. Not a balloon, not a flower, not a single card! Well, I scolded myself. You’re the one who asked for nothing. Nothing is what you get.
I should have known better. I mean, I really, really should have known better. The party they organized (while still doing their full-time work of taking care of the kids, planning therapy, dealing with behaviour issues, writing IEPs and running parents’ groups) not only took me totally and completely by surprise, it swept me off my feet, brought me to tears and showed me what pure joy and affection look like when mixed with creativity and burstability.
It looks like this.
When we got home that evening, Ravi said to me: “The thing about the Latika Roy Foundation? They really know how to celebrate. They’ve got joy.”
I will never be able to express how lucky I am to be working with these amazing, incredible people. I am the luckiest person in the world: 60 years old, and still surprised by joy.