Margaret Sheehan Fun Q and A

Margaret is the Production Manager at Quixote Consulting. She handles the behind-the-scenes work and is responsible for managing all the materials and supplies that go into each program. Her number one priority is to make sure that everything is in place for the perfect program.

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What is the most meaningful part of your work?
I love being part of something bigger! I usually work “behind the scenes” preparing materials for the big day. Knowing how all the pieces come together and how many people are impacted (be it a training or a charity team building event), is a very surreal feeling.

What is a great memory from a program?
We recently worked a Military Salute program in Texas. The client group was over 90% men. I didn’t expect there to be much of an emotional connection. I thought they group would be all work and no fun. But Rob was able to get them out of that comfort zone and really engage. I felt a connection with the group and they helped me feel more patriotism than I’ve ever experienced.

What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Empathetic, efficient, kind

What fun activities make you happy?
Baking and cooking and just being in the in the kitchen in general. It’s a great gathering space but I also enjoy “me” time in the kitchen as well.

Who is the most famous person you have ever met?
One time I saw The Edge from U2 in Ireland. He was inside a gallery and I saw him through a window as I was passing by.

What was your favorite childhood meal?
Chicken Parmesan

What is the best way to spend a rainy weekend?
Snuggled on the couch with my beagle and cat flipping through a cooking magazine. With bread or pizza baking in the kitchen, of course!

Which of your teachers had the greatest impact on you?
My high school band director/science teacher who is also a part time vet tech. She continues to teach me to follow my dreams and go where my heart leads. Oh did I mention she owned an ice cream parlor in town before she started teaching?

For what in your life do you feel the most grateful?
My close family.

What’s your favorite season and why?
I love fall! The crisp air, the seasonal foods, the colors and scenery change in New England, Halloween. Plus I enjoy the excitement and eagerness of looking forward to the holidays and getting to spend more time with my family.

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Quix Picks: Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Lots of fun, lots of nods to the old show, and lots of action. There is an added poignancy seeing Anton Yelchin (Chekov), so great in Green Room, and now tragically gone. This Star Trek ‘episode’ (written by Simon Pegg, a.k.a. Scotty) was a great turnaround from the low point of the forgettable second installment.

One request oh studio decision makers: It’s always great to see/hear Idris Elba in a movie. However, can someone please give this man a leading role that isn’t a villain?

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On the Road At Home

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I recently returned from a lovely camping trip in the Guadalupe National Mountains National Park in west Texas. This little-used park is simply stunning. It’s the northernmost tip of the Chihuahuan Desert, where the desert ends and skies up into mountain peaks.

The hiking was fabulous, and nature worked its wonderful magic tricks on me as usual. I’m sure I’ll be writing about it in my blog. But in this moment I’d like to draw your attention to the other people I met also camping. All came from different walks of life, different locations in North America and were in different stages of their life journey. However everyone shared something refreshing qualities.

They had very little with them. They were on fairly open-ended journeys. They had a plan but weren’t tied to it. They met my gaze. They had easy smiles. They were curious…about me, about life. They were happy to talk about their life on the road and share stories. And they were in no way oppressed by time. None were itching to stop talking with me in order to do something pressing. I had the feeling – usually confirmed – that I would need to be the one to end the conversation. I came away from the conversation energized, a little happier and a little more excited about life.

This is a strange and wonderful breed of humanity, right? Actually, that’s you. And that’s me…at our best, whether on the road or at home.

If your experience of the people around you today is nothing like the above paragraph, you have an opportunity to be the change you’d love to see. You can be “on the road at home”.

If today’s life feels a little too tight, take a purpose pause. And feel that lovely spring energy traveling through you, easing and opening anything constricted for you. Happy travels…on the road and at home!

 

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: 

Emotional Intelligence Works – EQ is twice as important in contributing to excellence as IQ and expertise combined. Learn how to effectively manage your emotions and those around you for sustained success.

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Stephen Curry’s Workouts and the Wisdom of Overload

“It’s pretty amazing how much space you can create after you do a couple sets with resistance, train your body to fight through that and then you build that strength.” – Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry’s workouts are famously wacky. Here’s a short sample:

  • Dribbling two basketballs at the same time at different speeds
  • Dribbling a basketball while catching a tennis ball in the other hand
  • Dribbling between the legs while transferring another ball elsewhere
  • Dribble a heavy basketball and a regular one simultaneously
  • Continuously transferring a ball to bounce between your legs while simultaneously maintaining a regular dribble with your other hand
  • Wearing strobe-effect goggles that delete visual information and disorient while dribbling

Brandon Payne started training Stephen Curry in 2011. He’s the architect of all those drills. Why? It’s one word: overload. He’s pushing Stephen Curry to overload. If we can stay in the discomfort of overload, two things happen.

First – what you might guess – doing the same thing with a higher level of difficulty makes the original thing feel easier. It’s why batters swing two bats in the batting circle before approaching home plate.

Second – this is where real, deep progress happens quickly. I know this first hand primarily from studying music. It’s something that I encountered repeatedly studying music in college. And more recently when I’m transcribing some musical piece, the amount of mental force I use is exhausting. Here’s how I can tell easily. I work in 30 minute segments to increase focus and remind myself to take breaks. Yesterday while transcribing I felt like I had reached my limit of mental exhaustion. I checked the timer…and found I had 16 minutes left of the 30 minutes, less than halfway!

I have lived long enough on this earth to see the amazing results of this kind of overload. When I’m brave enough (and had enough sleep) it’s rocket fuel for improvement.

One caveat: don’t live in overload. Too much unconscious time is spent there, myself included. Train in overload consciously, then play the work freely.

Here’s the last word from Stephen Curry to inspire you:

Curry says, “All sorts of band resistance work, contrast stuff so you overload, load up weight and do the same moves I’ll do on the court. Then, contrast that, take the weight off, really work on the explosion part of it. It’s pretty amazing how much space you can create after you do a couple sets with resistance, train your body to fight through that and then you build that strength.”

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: 

Team Collaboration Quest – Teams complete a customized series of challenges through collaboration and communication.

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Why Stephen Curry Is My Favorite NBA Player

Why is Stephen Curry my favorite NBA player?

It’s not because he’s such an amazing 3-point shooter (although that helps) or the 2-time MVP.

It’s simply because of the sense of play he brings to the game. He even ‘plays’ his warm-up routine, using a basketball to emulate other sports with teammate Ian Clark.

And in the heat of the game, there he is trying ridiculous things. He’ll take half-court shots, behind the back passes, even dunking when he’s totally open (he’s a little short for dunking – but I actually saw him succeed once). Sometimes this playfulness is successful and sometimes it’s met by failure. The short summary of al this? He just looks ‘loose’ during a game, and he’s clearly enjoying himself.

This kind of sense of play is contagious. The Warriors are famously the ‘fun’ NBA team. And they’re also the best team – that doesn’t hurt. But the success comes after the play, not the play after success. Play is baked in from the beginning.

I see some basketball players look like they’re doing distasteful work in the trenches (hello 2017-era Derrick Rose). And then there are players like Steph Curry. It’s  no accident that the last player I absolutely adored watching was Steve Nash. He too brought a sense of play and curiosity to his work.

All the NBA players do the same job – they play basketball. But they all do it their own way, and bring their own attitude to that job. We’re all working today. Look around you and you’ll see others doing a very similar job to yours, working for the same company.

But your choice today is the attitude you bring. How will you play your job today? I want you to be my favorite person that does what you do. And I will if you’re playing.

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: 

Secret Agent Team – ‘There’s a team who leads the life of danger…’ Test your spy skills in a series of interactive challenges.

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Blue-Butterfly Day by Robert Frost (Pocket Poem)

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It is blue-butterfly day here in spring,

And with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry

There is more unmixed color on the wing

Than flowers will show for days unless they hurry.

 

But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:

And now from having ridden out desire

They lie closed over in the wind and cling

Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.

 

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Don’t Like to Exercise? Try This

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Try playing. Play is stealth exercise.

Match the play to your physical ability in the moment. For me, playing basketball beats running sprints by myself. I’d rather play hockey than skate alone. Give me a game of Ultimate instead of a long run by myself any day.

This is why people golf, why they bowl, why they play Frisbee golf. It’s why people are obsessed currently with step counters. It’s a game. It’s even why we watch sports.

Find the play you prefer. There is play possible in any activity. And physical activity is easier to play than mental activity.

Delight in the play – whether with others or alone.

Notice after you’re done how time stopped (in the good way), how at the end of the “flow” engagement you did more, are a little more tired and energized, smile more easily.

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: 

The Ultimate Game – Travel around the giant game board, furiously completing wild and wacky trivia and team challenges in the craziest team building program ever.

 

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When Are You At Your Best?

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If the state of fear is when we’re not at our best, when are we at our best? I’m going to take a little leap of faith that you won’t be too alarmed at the L word: Love.

We can call this passion, or even play. But love really sums it up for me. I give the best of myself to my work and the people I encounter when I’m feeling a sense of love.

If fear is the realm of the amygdala in the brain, then love is the realm of the neocortex, just a little bit further up the road in the brain. This is where your desire to connect, to contribute, to be generous lives.

The Irish poets Yeats said, “Where all the ladders start, in the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.” Now you know where the ladders lead – to love.

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities:

StrengthsFinder – Gallup’s online assessment of unique top five strengths. Learn your team’s strengths and learn how to put them into action.
MBTI Team Quest – Discover and leverage the various ways your people make decisions, strategize and access information, using this organizational standard. Team members begin to recognize the strengths that other types bring to the team, and the power that comes from multiple types working together.

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Quix Picks: Kubo and the Two Strings

This stop-motion masterpiece is by the Laika studio, the folks who gave us Coraline and ParaNorman (I recommend both) and Boxtrolls (I haven’t seen it yet). Kubo (Art Parkinson) is a young storyteller with magical powers on a quest to find his father and help his mother in ancient Japan. With great voice acting by Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey, it’s part samurai adventure, part fantasy, part action-adventure and wholly wonderful.

The craftsmanship is extraordinary, just like the other movies that Laika has done. And the attention to historical period detail is stunning. Talk about persistence! To do a stop-motion movie must just be grindingly long and painstaking. So it’s a treat to inform you that the story has enough heft and Joseph Campbell-approved parts to match the visual efforts.

I’m a fan of warm colors and this picture is visually lush, with an impossibly gorgeous color palette and lighting. I want to watch it again right now just to enjoy the beauty that’s been given us.

Be forewarned, the emotional depth of the story may be too much for very young viewers. This ain’t no Disney movie! Just like I can still shudder thinking of a moment in the movie Coraline where the mother turns around to talk to the daughter and her eyes have been replaced by buttons, there are some raw moments in this with a strong helping of darkness and intensity.

But the intensity is balanced well with an enormous amount of heart. And even the last few scenes that some cynics may think of as cheesy ring true to me in the tradition of the African villages that ‘punish’ lawbreakers by telling them how good they are as people and the Buddhist tradition of death opening us up to becoming one with the world.

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When Are You Not At Your Best?

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I’m pretty obsessed with the concept of ‘at your best’ – it’s what I named this blog and it’s the title of the book I’ve been working on. But what about when you’re not at your best?

I know when I’m not at my best. I can trace it simply to when I’m feeling afraid, even a little. When my amygdala in my brain is engaged and the guard dog is triggered, I’m (like all of us) focused primarily on averting danger. The amygdala focuses on survival, not happiness.

There may be good reasons for this amygdala triggering – there may be real and present danger for example. But more likely it’s my mind chewing on some worry in the future, or something physiological like lack of sleep.

If you want to be at your best, you may need to start by bringing conscious loving attention to where you are now. The Irish poets Yeats said, “Where all the ladders start, in the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.” Start where you are, then start climbing.

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities:

StrengthsFinder – Gallup’s online assessment of unique top five strengths. Learn your team’s strengths and learn how to put them into action.
MBTI Team Quest – Discover and leverage the various ways your people make decisions, strategize and access information, using this organizational standard. Team members begin to recognize the strengths that other types bring to the team, and the power that comes from multiple types working together.

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