You will likely recall from my last blog, I am looking for reasons that someone with a disability might consider working as part of their recovery. There is more to work than just a paycheque. Work provides opportunities to develop skills that you can’t get anywhere else. One of these is developing  an ability to work as a part of a team.

During the height of the last Ice Age, there was a whole collection of critters that w sometime called mega fauna because they were big. There were sabre-toothed tigers and American lions to contend with. The short-faced bear that was roughly the size of an elementary school that could rip apart bison the size of box cars, and gigantic camels, ground sloths woolly mammoths and, of course, horses.

All of these animals became extinct by the end of the Ice Age. These included the horse and camel who may have migrated across the Bering Land Bridge into Asia and Europe. Some of the camels went to South America to be llamas. There were no horses in North America after the ice age until the arrival of the Spaniards.

Horses kept heading West just as the First Nations people headed East. Apparently their paths never crossed. In any event, it took 5 – 10 thousand years for the horse to become domesticated. The date for this was learned when traces of mare’s milk was recovered from a flask. The date of 5000 years has to be the early date for this because you can’t milk a wild horse.

First Nations people on the Great Plains developed a tradition of hunting bison using teamwork. The would find a herd and dress up a team member in bison skins and have him mingle with the heard. Other members would make piles of rocks and hide behind them. The piles of rocks would outline a passageway that would decrease in breadth – ultimately leading to the edge of a cliff.

When everything was in place, the guy in the skins would begin to overact, causing a small stampede, As the heard headed for the rock piles, team members would pop up and focus the herd to their ultimate demise at the bottom of the cliff.

When the Spanish came, the horse made this operation easier. In fact, the team skills they developed hunting translated to the teamwork they developed to defeat Custer at the Little Big Horn.

Another example of team work may come from some of the nursing homes. A Care Aid spots a resident on the floor and deduces that something has to be done. She notices that the resident outweighs her by a significant amount. If she does it herself, she will hurt herself, and likely drop the resident again. She assembles a team, “You two take the knees, you two take the hips, and I’ll take the shoulders.” She says. “Okay, one, two three lift.” The problem is solved, and everyone got to feel they were a contributing team member.

I believe there are three skills that let one become a member of a team: listening (for the bison hooves and for the count in the care home), problem solving (applying the team) and negotiation. (You wear the skins this time).

You can only learn this stuff at work, but once you have, put it on your resume.

Mike Broderick , a one- time archaeologist, is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor with the Fraser Health Authority in Port Coquitlam where he helps people with mental health disabilities find and keep full or part time employment .

He WAS the Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he found employment for people with physical disabilities, A Supported Employment Coordinator at THEO BC (now the Open Door Group), and a case manager at Community Fisheries Development Centre where he helped people move from the fishing industry to something else because there, “Aint no fish.” This means he is VERY familiar with how a modern day resume should look.

He is a newly retired ambassador with the Vancouver Board of Trade and a former member of the Labour Task Force of the Burnaby Board of Trade He does some work as a field Archaeologist, is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to Alive Magazine. He is always saying, “If you can’t be fit, you can at least be funny.”

He lives in Port Coquitlam with his spouse Cecelia. You can reach him at home at  or at 604-464-4105. If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates.


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