When I was in high school I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I just didn’t know it yet. In high school, I was deeply interested and involved in leadership and inspiration, just in a very high school way.
There was a small group of us on student council who used to run the lunchtime pep rallies prior to the Friday night football games. Since we weren’t jocks, we figured we’d be the cheerleaders. And, we were pretty good at it.
At one specific pep rally I decided to try a new cheer, one I had learned that summer at student government camp (hey, listen, there are all kinds of geeks in the world…and there are all kinds of organizations running camps for those geeks to learn how to be even more geeky at what they are geeky about. Twas always thus and always thus shall be.) Anyway, the cheer was called “Boomba, Hey!”
Here’s how it went down: donning my purple and gold “Lancer” attire I would stride to the center of the basketball court, students filling the stands on either side, and begin shouting my instructions: pointing to the right side, “You guys are ‘Boomba!’. When I point to you, yell “Boomba!” as loud as you can!” Pointing to the left side, “You guys are ‘Hey!’ When I point to you, yell ‘Hey!’ as loud as you can!” And then I get started, slowly at first, methodical in my approach. Deliberately easing them into a pattern, predictable and soothing.
(Hear it in your head and remember, we’re talking about 1,000 screaming high school students.)
Pointing right: “BOOMBA!”
Pointing left: “HEY!”
Now, they’re trying to outdo each other. Louder and louder. I am all powerful. I have them right where I want them. I point left and…nothing. I catch the “Hey’s!” off guard. I try it again and they come on with vigor: “HEY!!!” Loving being first, loving the mis-direction. And then it gets fun. I start to play with them. I wish you could hear it as I remember it. I “wind-up” the “BOOMBA’s!”, starting low and building to an explosive finish:
“BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM- BA!” They go crazy.
I “machine-gun” it with the “HEY’s!”: over and over again: HEY!”, “HEY!”, “HEY!”, “HEY!”, faster and faster until they can’t keep up. Hilarious.
I was 16 years old and in command. Leading, motivating, inspiring. By doing something silly, fun and, most importantly, simple. I doesn’t take much but it has to be done with conviction, belief that this is the most important thing in the world. That there is no place else for me in this moment. I am right here, right now.
It took me a lot of years to get back to that place. A lot of years to figure out that more complexity isn’t better. That simple passions, explored authentically, are truly powerful.
When in doubt, go with “Boomba, Hey!”
© 2010 David Berry