Category Archives: Training

Go outside and play? “It’s too real!”

“Go outside and play,” Mom told us all summer long when we were young. Mom meant it literally, and Mom is always right of course. It’s also great advice metaphorically. But get outside what exactly? We have a comfort zone where life is easy and enjoyable. And we have a panic zone where life is too hard, too scary, too overwhelming, too…much. There’s a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where he complains about being outside his TV-watching comfort zone, explaining, “It’s too real.” We call this ‘too real’ zone the challenge zone. The challenge zone is built between the comfort and panic zones. It’s where we learn. It’s where we grow. Too much reality and we’re panicked. Too little and we’re stuck trying to stay comfortable, what Walt Whitman railed against as “indoor complaints”. The literal outside is not always comfortable. It’s often too hot, too bright, too humid, too buggy, just as Calvin so astutely noted. And the metaphorical outside is the same – it’s really real outside the comfort zone. Yet if comfort is our highest priority, we can give up the hope of learning and growing. Every team development session we lead has lots of new concepts, research and ideas to help teams and individuals grow into the challenge zone. And I pair every training with team building activities to try those concepts out, an immediate leap into the challenge zone. That’s where the growth happens. High hopes accompany new ideas. That’s great! And then there’s the reality when trying to put them into play. It’s not easy to see enthusiasm get a dose of direct experience. But that’s the beginning of learning, of “going where I have to go” as the poet Theodore Roethe said. Happy summer! Now get outside and play.

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Seven things that are more productive than a meeting without an agenda

“We’re too busy to have meetings with agendas.” – a team leader during a training Here are seven things that will be more productive than having a meeting without an agenda (or having an agenda but not following it): Going for a walk Going bowling Going to see a movie Getting your hair cut Washing your car Organizing your pens Moving your paper clips one by one from one side of the room to the other…then moving them back If you’re investing everyone’s time, attention and energy in a meeting: Have an agenda. Send it to everyone at least one day before the meeting. Follow it. Or better yet, go for a walk.

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How to Re-charge Your Battery if You Have the Introvert MBTI Preference

Pause. Take a short break from what you’re working on. Find a quiet place where you can be alone and undisturbed. Close your eyes and take some deep slow breaths. Let the demands of the outer world drain away each time you breathe out. Return to yourself. Then allow your mind to freely wander on its own inner exploration. The quieter the spot you’re in, the more quickly you can rejuvenate yourself, whether it’s a park bench outside, alone or a walk on a quiet path. If you can’t find a quiet spot in your office or outside go out to your car on your break, close your eyes, breathe and relax. If you’re in a very busy, loud environment, a bathroom stall will do in a pinch. It’s important to let go as much as possible of the external demands that are tugging at you, just for these few moments and return to yourself. It’s also helpful to take a short pause between activities. For example, if you’ve had a long drive in traffic, take a quiet moment by yourself before you go inside and meet whomever you are expecting at your destination. This gives your active internal life a chance to catch up with all of your external interactions. Another recharging method is to have a meaningful one-on-one conversation with a person you have a strong connection with, either in person or on the phone. This conversation often will give you even more energy than just quiet, alone time. However, don’t try this when your internal battery is on empty. It works best when you’re just a little depleted. Track what works bests for you. Whenever you are able to take a quick vacation from all externalities pulling at you, you will return to your work refreshed and ready to re-enter the challenges ahead of you. Learn more: 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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How to Re-charge Your Battery if You Have the Extravert MBTI Preference

When you’re tired, worn down and you need some energy to get your work done, try this tip. Extroversion Pause. Take a short break from what you’re working on. Get up from your desk and seek out someone to have a short conversation with. What – The topic isn’t important, but try to make it not be about your work at hand. It could be about sports, weather, politics, current events, an interesting bit of trivia you picked up. Or it could be curiosity about their family, favorite vacation spot, anything. Get curious – what would you like to know about this person? Who – Choose someone, even a stranger is fine, anyone that you’d feel comfortable talking with very briefly about anything you choose. Offer to get someone a cup of coffee or a snack, then have a quick chat with them. How – Try to have this conversation in person. A face-to-face conversation will give you the best shot at recharging your battery. If that isn’t possible, pick up the phone and call someone you know. Emailing and Instant Messaging is a third option, and will do in a pinch. After you’ve had your short conversation and you’re heading back to your work at hand, notice your energy level. Is your battery a little bit re-charged? If so, what about the conversation energized you? Get as specific as you can. The more clearly you can understand what energizes you, the more powerful a tool you can add to your re-charging tool-box. Now, head back to your work, refreshed and ready to re-enter the challenge ahead of you. Learn more: 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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Leading Change: A New World Baked Fresh Every Day

On my early evening walk I came across the mountain laurel, pink-budded and ready to bloom. Beauty! And in the warm late sunlight I heard crickets for the first time this year. Noticing is like that – it’s easier when something’s new and fresh to your awareness. And every day brings something new. I once started – yet to be finished – a song called New World Baked Fresh Every Day. And it’s true! Every day we’re alive is baked fresh, whether we notice it or not. And change is like that. It’s always happening. We, myself included, can regard looming change with a mix of suspicion, reluctance, anxiety, and whatever other emotion the word ‘looming’ inspires. The unknown by definition can be pretty scary. But, the unknown by definition is also an adventure, a daily hero’s journey. This is the quest – a journey for something larger and better to benefit ourselves and everyone we touch and the greater world. To do that kind of work requires a great deal of change – both internal and external. This is the kind of work I explore in our change training sessions like Change Quest, 40 Days to Change For Good, and How to Lead Change. Spring into summer is a perfect time in nature and in life to encourage us to see how beautiful and welcoming change can be. Here’s to you connecting with all deep, benevolent forces all around you and them fueling your quest for fresh changes to bring what your heart truly desires.   Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: Change Quest – Time for you and your team to evolve quickly, whether you’re driving the change or the rest of the world is. 40 Days to Change For Good – Don’t just manage change, lead it. Create a successful forty-day blueprint to lead a change that lasts. How to Lead Change – Learn how to be an effective change leader and lead positive change that lasts.

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The Limitation/Innovation Connection – How to Put a Contact Lens In With One Hand

Here’s a great story that Dick Anderson, an inspiring harmonica player from Colorado, sent in. Happy limitation/innovation!   I was struck by the quote in your latest newsletter “The best art is made within strict limitations.” It came at a time when I’m experiencing some discoveries in the innovation process.  I’m preparing for a shoulder surgery which will immobilize my right arm for 6 weeks.  Since I’m right handed, I’ve begun to learn how to operate with only the left arm/hand. Among the many tasks at which I am trying to be more proficient with the left hand, putting in my contact lenses was particularly worrisome.  For 25 years, I’ve used two hands to pull my eyelids open while I insert the contact. I resolved to try with only the left hand while learning how not to blink when I inserted the lens.  To my surprise, I found a new technique using only one hand in which I slide the top of the contact under the upper eyelid and then continue to press the remaining surface to my eye.  This works much better than my old method and my “first try” success rate is even better than with the old method. Your note about limitations/constraints resonated with my experience.  My old technique for contact lens insertion was not the best, but it was not until I was limited to one hand that I discovered the better method. It also seems to be the case for group creativity exercises in which the tool or material is limited but the objective is difficult.  By reducing the number of degrees of freedom, we naturally dig deeper for methods which might have been overlooked when a custom tool is available.  (If the only tool you have is a hammer, you might find ways of using it as a plumb bob, a screwdriver, or an apple picker.) Thanks for the great newsletter and thanks for listening…. -       Dick Anderson, Colorado   Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: Innovator’s Quest – How can we inspire a culture of innovation? How can we take risks, be bold and allow for ‘mistakes’ that have the potential for great leaps in productivity?

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Five Dysfunctions Team Building – A Team Trust Story

I recently led a ‘Five Dysfunctions of A Team’ team building and training with a small group. We focused on the base for any team – trust. They did brave, difficult work in an intense day of focus – no email, no cell phones, just a beautiful view (the importance of setting can not be overstated) and people together trying to forge stronger connections. They emerged at the end of the day a team transformed. I went home proud of the work we had done together and slept the sleep of the exhausted. If you’re ready for your team to transform, I’d like to help facilitate that. There’s good work in the world do be done by all of us together. It’s not easy work, but the growing is worth it.

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The MBTI, DiSC, StrengthsFinder, Firo-B and Second Intelligence Smarts

I use lots of different assessments with teams. Four that I use frequently are MBTI, DiSC, StrengthsFinder and Firo-B. If you’re wondering, out of those, the MBTI is my favorite, StrengthsFinder my second favorite. Why? That’s the story for another day. What I’m most interested here is what they give people. These assessments give people a glimpse at what hides in plain sight, their second intelligence. The Persian poet Rumi says, “This second knowing is a fountainhead from within you, moving out… one already completed and preserved inside you. A spring overflowing its springbox.” This second intelligence is in our DNA, as unique to us as our fingerprints are. But there is little to no reinforcement in external life to access this intelligence. When you feel empty, missing something, not-enough, not-good-enough that’s a sign your second intelligence is being ignored. We’re often unused to putting our second intelligence in charge, or even knowing what that intelligence is for us. Personality assessments are a gateway into that world. Each person on a team begins to realize, “I am unique. I am different than these other people, and that’s a wonderful thing.” The Medicine Wheel teachings say that each of us entered the world in a unique spot on the wheel. Your second intelligence has much in common with mine, but it is unique to you. Your MBTI result may have a lot in common with mine, or not, but it’s unique to you. And even if we have the same result, how we live in that neighborhood is uniquely different. What unique way through your day will your second intelligence guide you through?   Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: 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. Firo-B – Unlock the mysteries of human interaction. Improve working relationships within a team and individual effectiveness. DiSC – Help team members assess how they can best use each dimension of four behaviors – dominance, influence, steadiness, conscientiousness – to better communicate and work together. StrengthsFinder – Gallup’s online assessment of unique top five strengths. Learn your team’s strengths and learn how to put them into action.  

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Amygdala or Neocortex? Fear or Love? Which Path is the First Intelligence Taking?

The first intelligence is, according to the Persian poet Rumi, the “one acquired, as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts from books and from what the teacher says…you stroll with this intelligence in and out of fields of knowledge.” As with so many potentially helpful things, how you use it is more important than what you use it for. By how I mean: what’s the intent behind it? Here’s an example from when I was preparing to travel in Costa Rica. There was an element of fear and anxiety as I attempted to cram Spanish in, hoping to stay safe by preparing more fully. The how here is from fear. The amygdala in my brain was in charge, working hard to stay safe and avert potential disaster. This is fear-based first intelligence. It’s a sad place to be – we’ll never prepare enough to satisfy the amygdala. We’re not ever going to be perfect enough. The day after I landed I had a four bus ride to get to Cahuita, on the coast. I listened to Spanish lessons for several hours of that ride, dreamily staring out of the window as fresh and new landscape unfolded. I was relaxed, my amygdala was relaxed – it knew I was safe for a few hours. My neocortex perked up, the part of my brain that is interested in happiness and connection. It was excited to learn Spanish! And it didn’t care what kind of progress was made, it just felt like exploring. That’s love of something showing up. The same Spanish lessons, two very different internal environments, two very different first intelligence experiences. Fear or love – two different paths through the same territory. I’ll take love!     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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Four Lessons Learned From Collaborative Team Building With Cisco

Here’s a review of a collaborative team building activity we led with Cisco recently. I’m including it here because it’s such a helpful reminder to hear four things that the team there found really useful. Which learning is most helpful for you to be reminded of today? “It was fantastic. The facilitator did a great job. The games were spot on for what we needed. A few antidotes from my team. Here are a couple “lessons learned” that you shared with us: – “Solicit feedback from the team to see the bigger picture” – “Every contribution is important” – “Communication is key” – “Remember to level set, if you jump ahead too quickly things can get lost” – Cisco, Team Collaboration Quest Here’s the primary activity we did with them. Give us a call if you’d like to remind your team of what’s most important. Picture This Team Collaboration Building Activity You have some of the information but can you communicate what you know? Who will see the big picture? Each person gets images that are part of a larger sequence. Together the group must decipher the sequence and get them laid out in order without any person seeing anyone else’s images while the clock ticks! Will the group see the big picture in time or will they get bogged down in details…or worse yet, fail to notice a crucial part of the image in time? This complex verbal communication skill builder has a powerful “a-ha” factor that makes the grand unveiling unforgettable! Outcomes: Discern how does looking at the big picture affect outcomes Explore the balance between precise, accurate communication and big-picture solutions Examine individual strengths within the context of a team Look at how communication affects strengths Look to each other to share resources and generate solutions     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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