“Light as a feather, stiff as a board.”
You could hear the little girlies chanting this as the Plague swept across 17th century London. Corpses lined the cobblestone streets like the angel of death knocked door-to-door; a restless, lonely ghost selfishly claiming companions. The girls knelt around a lifeless body as they solemnly chanted, fingertips lightly pressing against the back of their motionless friend, levitating her off the ground as if possessed by a spirit in a childish séance. “Light as a feather, stiff as a board.” As Halloween has just past, it is not unlikely that your own children played this game, repeating the incantation at their slumber parties, lifting their friends off the ground in the flickering candlelight. But are they trying to “summon spirits,” or simply demonstrating a strong team dynamic?
“Light as a feather, stiff as a board” is an urban legend (along the lines of Bloody Mary) in which children (most of the time) surround an individual on their knees, put their hands underneath the subject, and chant “light as a feather, stiff as a board” while they effortlessly lift their friend off the ground. It’s made spookier sans light, and the chanting doesn’t help quell childish angst. But in all reality, it’s nothing more than a team of people with a common vision working together to accomplish a goal. The combined strength of the children, plus the low center of gravity creating a solid fulcrum, makes the task of lifting a person a few inches off the ground extremely easy. The chanting reestablishes the idea that something supernatural is at play, and focuses the mind on the end result instead of the task, almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. This group-think and vision of a greater goal works in many aspects of teamwork, and can be a useful trick in effective team management.