Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Personal Vision - Why?

Stop, Think, Reflect…

Do you know your core values and beliefs? Are they written down? How often do you refer to them? Are you living your core values and beliefs?

Are you creative? Do you have imagination?

Do you know your purpose? Is it written down? How often do you refer to it?

Do you have a mission? Does it have a time table and deadline? Is it written down? How often do you refer to it?

Have you shared your core values/beliefs, purpose and mission with others? Why or why not?

Personal Vision – Why?

The unexamined life is not worth living. – Socrates

Many people define his/her life by personal problems, personal crisis, and unfortunate personal circumstances. There is a second way to define your life and that is by your personal vision of how you “see” your life unfolding.

Are you happy? Do you feel like you are making a difference? What would your obituary say about you if you were to die today? Do you leave people and places better than when you found them?

Creating a personal vision is really a form of prayer and meditation! A relationship with God, a daily life of prayer and meditation and a personal vision create a foundation for a great life. When crisis or problems come (and they will!) it is this foundation that will help you through. Pain is inevitable. Misery is optional. You would not start a 2000 mile drive across the country without a map so why not create a map for journey through life?

Benefits of a personal vision
- A personal vision is a contract with the future.
- A personal vision is a positive affirmation that causes one to collaborate in positive change the world needs.
- A personal vision is deeply spiritual. “People without a vision perish.” (Proverbs 29:18 KJV).
- A personal vision causes one to get busy living versus keeping busy with dying.
- A personal vision is bedrock and foundation for creating and sustaining a better life.
- A personal vision connects the mind, body and soul. It guides your priorities.
- A personal vision creates new consciousness and challenges you on your choices.
- A personal vision simplifies one’s life and reduces stress.
- Creating a personal vision is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom helps us to “see” how our life will unfold.

Reasons cited for not creating a personal vision:
- I desire to be spontaneous. I want the freedom to live in the moment.
- I have failed in the past with resolutions, so I will probably do the same with creating and living my vision. Why waste time?
- I am not worthy of being better and creating a brighter future.
- I don’t believe it is possible to “see” the future by believing in one’s vision
- I don’t believe in my creativity. I am better at creating walls than bridges.
- I do not like change. I have to unlearn bad belief in my ability to create the future. That requires work. I am not up for that work.
- I am afraid of the future.

Personal vision is hard work!
A personal vision requires effort, tenacity and patience.
A personal vision requires self discipline
A personal vision requires focus and concentration.
A personal vision requires having an affair of with your heart and soul.

Everyone is born with the gift of imagination. Imagination is the core of creativity. Thus you can imagine your future and begin to create your future. The potential to visualize, to believe in your vision and to do is unlimited!

Experience Your Personal Vision

Make time to sit quietly with paper and pen. Ponder your life. Jot down key points. Write your obituary as if your life is ending at this moment. What is missing from your obituary? What would you like to add to your legacy? What is stopping you?

Suggested Reading

The Path – Creating Your Mission Statement by Laurie Beth Jones, 1996, ISBN 0-7868-6227-0
The On-Purpose Person – Making Your Life Make Sense by Kevin McCarthy 1992, ISBN 1-57683-309-7

Suggested Movie

Shawshank Redemption see (1994) – “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

Saturday, June 16, 2007

20 Things You Should Be

Stop, Think, Reflect…
Human being, human doing – which are you? What is the difference?

Are you defined by being or doing (or having)? Explain.

What do you need to be?

What can you control?

We’ve all… Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt! What was left out? What was missed? Who were you being when you were there?

Being versus Doing

“Treat people as though they were what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of being.” -Goethe

A while back, there was a print ad for Twenty Things You Should do in This Lifetime. It listed such things as ride in a gondola in Venice, stand on the Great Wall of China, see the sunrise over the ruins at Machu Picchu, see an opera at La Scalla in Milan, and since it was an ad for BMW, own a BMW.

The ad got me to thinking about Twenty Things You Should Be in This Lifetime.

Here is my list.

1 Be loving. 99% of whom and what we are cannot be seen. Learn to love yourself and realize there is no one exactly like you. When you do, you will be at peace. Love begins with you.
2 Be a role model. Thunder makes all the noise, but lightning does all the work! Role models keep commitments.
3 Be a giver. Give 10% of your time, talent and treasure to others. You reap what you sow. Give blood.
4 Be part of a community. It is within community we can share our ideas as well as our pain and vulnerability without fear. A team is a community.
5 Be a saver. Save 10% of everything and anything, you earn. Rainy days will come and your savings will provide a rainbow.
6 Be curious. Great leaders are great readers. Study your life. When you go bed, ask yourself, “What do I know tonight that I didn't know this morning?”
7 Be compassionate. Random acts of kindness are not just a good practice they are good medicine.
8 Be passionate. A job is something you do with your hands. Work is something you do with your hands and mind. Passion is what you do with your hands, mind and heart.
9 Be ethical. There is the easy way and the right way. The right way is ethic based.
10 Be spiritual. You can count the number of seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in the seed.
11 Be timeless. Our medieval ancestors had no concept of time, but we are in danger of being controlled by the clock. Time is the only resource you cannot save. Learn to use time more wisely.
12 Be healthy. Get enough sleep. Eat sensibly. Get 4 to 5 30-minute aerobic exercise sessions every week. Wash your hands often. If you ignore your health, it will go away.
13 Be able to laugh. Laughter is the only cure for grief. If you cannot laugh at yourself, you leave the job to others.
14 Be responsible. The United States is full of angry people. We confront and point fingers forgetting that three fingers always point back to us!
15 Be there. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. Sound travels at 1,100 feet per second. Slow down and listen! Learn to be still. Be a caring parent. Be a caring friend. Just be there.
16 Be simple. Choosing to be simple and simplifying, your life reduces stress, conflict, and problems. Practice KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid!
17 Be humble. Instead of thinking, I am better; learn to think, I am different. The differences we have make us stronger together.
18 Be forgiving and forgetting. Learn to forgive yourself for your own shortcomings. Forgive others for their shortcomings. Build a bridge and get over it.
19 Be fearless. The opposite of love is fear, not hate. Fear causes the real pain in life including war, crime, drug use, and other forms of destruction. Battle your fears constantly.
20 Be creative. Whenever you encounter a challenge, learn to identify as many resources as possible. Act and be willing to fail forward.

Experience Being

Go to your office supply store and purchase a composition book. Noodle on twenty things you would like to be in this lifetime. Write them down. Go through the composition book and every few pages write down a, I want to be _____________ statement. Keep the composition book nearby. Write down when you were being _____________. Describe the situation. Where did it happen? What was your mood? What time of day did happen? Describe the weather. What did it feel like? How did others feel? Were there any pictures or other “evidence” you could glue-stick onto this page with this entry?

Refer to these writings regularly. Notice patterns. Look for opportunities to grow your being.

There is nothing to do but be. - Stephen Levine

Suggested Reading

Profit from Experience by Dr. Michael O’Brien, O’Brien Group, 2003, ISBN-0-9744778-0-X

How to Want What You Have by Dr. Timothy Miller, Harper Perennial, 1996, ISBN-10: 0380726823

Suggested Movies

Being There (1979) – “Life is a state of mind.” See

Harold and Maude (1971) – “A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not dead, really. They're just backing away from life.” “Zoos are full, prisons are overflowing... oh my, how the world still dearly loves a cage.”

Saturday, May 5, 2007


An evangelist approached an Amish farmer and point blank asked if the the Amish farmer was saved. The Amish farmer replied, "Why are you asking me? Ask my grocer, my banker and my farm hands!" It's not what I say about me, its what others say about me. Actions speak louder than words.

Recently, here is what others are saying about me..^1457544

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Leadership - Uncommon Roles in a Flat World

Stop, Think, Reflect…

Whose responsibility is it to lead?

Who are your leadership models?

Do you think there is a leadership shortage?

Are leaders born or can leadership be learned?

What is the best way to develop leaders?

What would you wish in a leader?

Why is it so hard to lead yourself?

Leadership – Uncommon Roles in the Flat World

Warren Bennis writes in American Psychologist, January 2007 (Vol. 62 (1) pages 2-5), “there are four major threats to world stability: 1.) nuclear/biological catastrophe, 2.) a world-wide pandemic, 3.) tribalism, 4.) leadership of human institutions. Without exemplary leadership, solving the problems stemming from the first three threats will be impossible.” Ram Charan, Steve Drodder and Jim Noel authors of The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership Powered Company, warn that there is a serious lack of leadership in organizations.

When I ask people what comes to mind when they hear the word leader, I hear: expert, hero, boss, intelligent, over people, arrogant and aspiration.

In today’s “flat world” I believe there are three critical roles of leadership that are not mentioned above. Today, an effective leader must be a role model, relational and a change-agent.

I’m reminded of Gandhi’s quote, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” In other words, leaders must be clear on his/her values and core beliefs and must walk-the-talk. Think of your leadership as a brand. A brand is a promise, a guarantee, an experience and accountable. How is your leadership brand? Do you have a leadership philosophy? Is your philosophy written down? Is your philosophy clear? Have you shared your leadership philosophy with your followers? Are you being accountable to your leadership philosophy?

Today’s leader must be relational. The cornerstone of any relation is trust. Leaders build trust by empowering others. Think of a leader as a coach. An effective coach is trustworthy and not only teaches skills, but supports and challenges those he/she is coaching. Successful coaching leads to creating bonds between leader and follower. Being relational also means being a cheerleader. Today’s leaders celebrate not just the big victories, but the small wins as well, because what gets celebrated gets repeated!

Finally, today’s leader must be a change-agent. General Eric Shinseki said it best, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” The role of change-agent requires curiosity, a continuous desire to learn, and adaptability. Charles Darwin wrote, “It’s not the strongest that survive, but those most adaptable to change.” Unfortunately, we are not good at change. Dr. Raphael Levey, founder of the Global Medical Forum has noted that 80% of the U.S. health-care budget is affected by five behavioral issues – smoking, eating, stress, drinking responsibly and not getting enough exercise. (Fast Company: Change or Die by Alan Deutschman, Issue 94, May 2005, Page 53) These are all behaviors that could be changed!

Bottom line, if you accept these three uncommon roles of leadership in today’s world, leadership is everybody’s responsibility.

Experience Leadership

Within a large group of people, break into small groups of 4 to 5 around a table with a piece of flip chart paper and several different colored markers. For ten minutes discuss, “What would you wish in a leader?” Capture those key wishes on the flip chart paper using pictures – no words! At the end of ten minutes, each table present and explain their flip chart pictures.

Leadership shows up in several ways during this activity. Think about the following questions and see how leadership was or was not demonstrated. What was your process in capturing the wishes on paper? Who suggested or lead this process? Did someone lead the conversation at the table? Why? Who drew the pictures? How did you decide who would draw? Was there a moan “I can’t draw” at your table? Did anyone challenge this thinking? Why or why not? Did you have any disagreement on what the wishes should be or how they should be represented on paper? How was that handled? Did the group collaborate well and reach agreement on the outcome? Who lead the presentation to the large group describing the pictures on the flip chart? How was that person(s) selected?

Are you being that leader for which you wish? How are you able to “walk-the-talk?” If you are not being the leader you for which you wish, why not? What do you need to change to become that inspiring leader? From whom can you get support? What deadline will you create to help you achieve being a better leader? What possible obstacles will keep you from becoming a better leader?

Suggested Reading

Movies for Leaders by Shaun O’L. Higgins & Colleen Striegel, New Media Ventures, 1999, ISBN-0-923910-17-4

The Way of the Shepherd by Dr. Kevin Leman and William Pentak, Zondervan, 2004, ISBN-13: 978-0-310-25097-5

Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment by George Leonard, Plume, 1992, ISBN 0-452-26756-0

The Leadership Moment: Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for Us All by Michael Useem, Three Rivers Press, 1998, ISBN 0-8129-3230-7

The Leadership Challenge, (Fourth Edition) by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, Jossey –Bass, 2007 ISBN 978-0-7879-8491-5

Check out

Suggested Movies

Shackleton - See“I'm the leader of this expedition, and your contract is with me, not the bloody ship! Now you do what I say and I will keep you alive.”

The Wizard of Oz – See “You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate impression that just because you run away you have no courage; you're confusing courage with wisdom.”

Leadership: An Art of Possibilities - See “The art of leadership is about a new way of being.”

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Trust - The Essential Core Value

Stop, Think, Reflect…

Can you be trusted? How do you know?

What are the critical components to building trust in a relationship?

How do you approach trust: I trust until shown someone cannot be trusted? I do not trust until someone proves he/she can be trusted. What are the possible outcomes to each approach?

Describe high-trust behaviors versus low-trust behaviors.

When trust is high, what happens to fear? Conversely, when fear is high, what happens to trust?

How do these behaviors affect an organization’s financial bottom-line?


“Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.” Sir Isaac Newton

A common theme in many of the current best selling books, Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams, The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman and The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki send the message for the need for more and better collaboration. For collaboration to be successful there is a need to create community built on trust. Webster defines trust as firm reliance on integrity, ability, or character in someone or something.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, survival is the primary need. To survive requires trust in ourselves as well as in others. To move to higher level of need - thriving, trust must excel. For trust to excel requires character, competence and connection.

Character is what others say about us. It is about reputation. It is not just how one behaves before others, but is consistent in behavior when alone. The way you react to finding a wallet in a room full of people hopefully mirrors the way you react to finding that wallet when you are by yourself. Character is the essential part of brand in developing, delivering and keeping a promise.

Competence as a part of trust is having the skills, knowledge and abilities to meet required needs. In today’s world, it is no longer about earning a living, but rather about learning a living. Competence is a verb, a continuous state of learning and growing.

Connection is bridge building. When we meet someone for the first time, usually conversation seeks to find connection. It is more than just getting along with people. At the highest level, it is about being interested in others rather than trying to be interesting to others. Consider the challenge of connection from the Prayer of Saint Francis, “Grant that I may not seek so much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.”

Experience Trust

There are all kinds of trust initiatives, but perhaps the simplest experience gets to the heart of trust. It is important to clarify before beginning the initiative that people have the option of just observing.

Participants move around the room, meeting each participant eye-to-eye and make only one of three statements to a fellow participant:
- I trust you.
- I don not know if I trust you.
- I do not trust you.
No additional comment maybe made. No additional explanation is given.

After everyone has had a chance to encounter everyone, ask everyone to pause and write down what he/she just experienced. This is especially important for the introverts in attendance.

After a few minutes of personal reflection, break the larger group into uncommon small groups of three to five people to discuss this experience. Ask the participants to share what happened including what he/she felt and saw. Follow up with questions on why. Finally, ask for connections of this initiative back to the organization including internal and external customers, the organization’s vision and the organization’s processes.

When it feels right, ask the small groups to share with the whole group key points of discussion. Look for commonalities as well as unusual insights.

The challenge of this initiative to ask people to reflect on what he/she will stop doing, continue doing and start doing. Successful organizations have a nurturing, stimulating, trusting culture. What do participants take away form this initiative to apply to developing a better culture?

Suggested Reading

The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything by Stephen M. R. Covey, Free Press, 2006, ISBN-10:0-7432-9730-X

The Cheating Culture by David Callahan, Harcourt, 2004, ISBN-10: 0151010188

The Enemies of Trust by Robert Galford and Anne Siebold Drapeau, Harvard Business Review, February 2003

Suggested Movies

Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery - Ken Burns - see -

Apollo 13 - "Houston, we have a problem."- see -

Friday, March 9, 2007

Youth Sports and Team Building

Stop, Think, Reflect...

What, when and where was your best youth sports team experience?

What made it a memorable experience?

What were relationships like with fellow teammates on the field and off the field?

What do you remember about the coach(s)?

How did the coach(s) help you with your skills? How did the coach(s) give you personal support? How did the coach(s) challenge you?

What were the most important things stressed by the coach(s)?

What were the life-long take away learnings from this experience?

Youth Sports and Team Building

Patrick Lencioni, best selling author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Jossey-Bass, 2002), shares a story of his role as coach for an eight-year-old youth soccer team. He and his fellow coach took an unusual approach to drafting players to be on their team. (See Instead of looking at skills, speed, field-awareness, touch and other normal criteria, they decided to look at how the boys treated each other, how hard they tried, how respectful they were to the coach, and how they interacted with their parents!

As a result, Lencioni writes "First, our team is a team. They treat each other well, encourage one another, and seek out collective attention more than individual praise. Second, they're having fun. They don't complain about practices, and they enjoy being together. Third, their parents are having fun. Many of them have approached me and my assistant coach to tell us how pleasantly surprised they are about the positive environment on the team, and how much they enjoy being on the sideline with the other parents." In Lencioni's March 2007 quarterly newsletter, he reports the team ended up with 15 wins, 4 loses and 6 ties!

Competitors have to compete with several people. First, the individual competitor has to compete with him or herself. If a competitor (or coach) does not get "butterflies" before a game, he/she is truly not interested in the game, has no humility or is inhuman! Second, the competitor has to compete with the opposition, a given. Third, the competitor has to compete with the referees, umpires and judges. Referees, umpires and judges will make bad calls (hopefully unintentionally). Play has to rise above this possibility. Finally, the competitor has to compete with the opposing fans. Taunts, hateful remarks, teasing and poor behavior may come from this group. Again, the competitor has to rise above this.

The people a competitor should never have to compete with are friends and family, the coach(s) and team mates. When poor play occurs during the game, it should be these three sources who encourage and challenge the competitor to fail forward - learn from the mistake and become better from it. Coaches who practice an appreciative inquiry approach towards their players get a higher level of play. Appreciative Inquiry (see is recognizing the best in players and valuing the individual. Its about finding our what gives "life" and heightening human potential. Coaches who walk-the-talk and model-the-way, inspire team mates to act likewise to each other.

Successful teams have a culture of trust, respect, compassion, responsibility and a bold-hairy-audacious-goal (BHAG)! Before any team takes the field or court, the coach has to create this culture. It is equally important that parents and fans support this culture on and off the field or court. With a nurturing culture, teams get into that elusive, highly desirable "zone" that makes play smooth, natural, effortless and fun. When a team hits those tough periods, recovery becomes easier and quicker.

Experience Team Building

Objective: To challenge the process, to demonstrate the value of practice, to understand the need to give and receive support, to break assumptions and to stop negative thinking.

You'll need a several catchable items (balls, bean bags, foam objects) and a stop watch. Gather the team in a circle. Explain the rules for this exercise: 1.) Everyone must "catch" the item once except the first person to whom the item will return to in the end. 2.) Say the name of the person to whom the item will be "thrown". 3.) Receiver can not "throw" the item to the person on his/her immediate right or left. 4.) If the item is dropped, restart.

The facilitator hands an item to the person on his/her right and explains the rules. The facilitator steps out of the circle and tells the team to begin. Without telling the team, the facilitator starts the watch. Do not stop the watch until the all the rules have been met. Thus, if the item gets dropped, the team does a restart, but the clock continues. Note the behavior as well as the process for completing the task.

After a successful first round ask for feedback. What worked? What would be done differently? After a a brief discussion, report the time. Ask if the team can follow the same sequence, but complete the same task more quickly without any mistakes. Keep challenging the team's process. Sugggest you have seen teams move the item around even quicker and with two items! Finally, after the team has reached a greater level of success and the energy is running high introduce a third object - a raw egg! (You may want to keep an extra egg or two on hand for drops and restarts!)

Ask the team about their process. How did it feel to get better and faster? How is this like practice? When a team mate messed up the sequence, how did others respond? How is this like what happens on the field or court during a game? What happend when the raw egg was introduced? What does the raw egg remind you of at practice or during a game? When was there encouragement? How important was encouragement? How does encouragement affect play during practice and games? If it took the team a couple of minutes to have success during the first time, but only seconds for success for the final round, would the team have believed they could have accomplished this type of success after just the first time? How does this thinking compare to the upcoming season or during a game when the team is behind?

Suggested Reading

Season of Life: A Football Star, a Boy, a Journey to Manhood by Jeffery Marx (Simon & Schuster, 2004) ISBN-10: 0743269748

Suggested Movies

Goal! "On this team we pass the ball." - See

Beyond the Sidelines: Leadership Lessons with Jim Tressel "Leadership is about building relationships with others." - See

Glory Road "That's what happens when you don't talk to each other!" - See

Hoosiers "Five players on the floor functioning as one single unit: team, team, team - no one more important than the other." - See

Remember the Titans Coach Boone puts hand to his ear, "Will you ever quit?" Team replies, "No! We want some mo', we want some mo', we want some mo'!" - See

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Team Building Objectives

Ben Dattner, consultant and psychologist, on NPR's Morning Edition, Wednesday, February 28, 2007, spoke on team building. "Unfortunately, organizations frequently miss opportunities to actually build teams during team building. Dattner says." (See

The facilitator has a responsibility to the group desiring to build a team to understand the current culture of the team as well as desired objectives. The benefits of team building fall into three categories including the immediate, the short term and the long term.

Immediate benefits include fun, reduced stress, increased awareness and even improved skills. Short term benefits might be increased confidence, stronger relationships, increased employee satisfaction, higher morale, improved decision making and process improvement. Long term benefits might be reduced turnover, improved productivity, improved quality, greater customer satisfaction and improved ROI - Return on Investment!

I agree with Dattner that an off site event can be and should be fun (that should be a major component of any team building program, workshop, off site or retreat) but that is first level team building - energizing. Paint balling, white water rafting and other out-of-the-office activities can be energizing and deliver immediate benefits.

Deeper levels of team building move toward discovery, skill development and culture change. Many times these deeper levels of team building programs require more than one-day and may be an ongoing process. Probing, open-ended questions and assessment help to uncover what is going well as well as problems. Its always best to build upon what the group does well to help them build a strong team. Shelia Campbell and Merianne Liteman in their book Retreats That Work (Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2003) describe key elements for a successful team building program.

Be clear on expections and objectives for the retreat or program. Interview not only the team leader but participants before creating the program. Build-in a wide variety of intiatives, media and tools to help all types of learners. Create white space for people to noodle and reflect. Be open to possibilties. Sometimes during a team building program a discovery is made and there is a need to divert from the origional agenda. Things may go wrong. Be willing to forgive and work to make things right. Celebrate learnings and positive behaviors! What gets celebrated gets repeated! Finally, no program is complete without a meaningful close and action steps. What will individuals/team take away from the program. What will individuals/team stop doing? What will individuals/team continue doing? What will individuals/team start doing?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Team Building

Stop, Think, Reflect...

What was the best "team" you were (or are) a part of? Sports team? Scout patrol? High school group project? Work team?

What made (is making) that team successful?

What is the difference between a successful team and a significant team?

What are the characteristics and behaviors of a successful or significant team?

What books, articles or websites would you recommend for creating a successful or significant team?

What movies show a group of people coming together and creating a successful or significant team?

Team Building

Team building is a broad term and means a lot of things to a lot of people. For some, team building is about energizing. For others it's about discovery and skill development. For still others it's about a change in culture. All are looking to make a positive impact on the bottom line. "If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time." Patrick Lencioni, author, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

I think the Native Americans had the concept of team building down in their medicine wheel. To the north is leadership. Their belief and experience taught them that leadership was everyone's responsibility. Everyone had different gifts, talents and passions to be used at key times to lead others. Some were good, talented and passionate about hunting. Some were good, talented and passionate about preparing food. Some were good, talented and passionate about healing the sick or injured.

To the east on the medicine wheel is vision. "Where there is no vision, the people perish." (Proverbs 29:18 KJV). Organizations, teams and individuals must have a vision. The vision must spell out core values and beliefs, the enduring purpose (why does it exist and who does it serve?) and a mission with a due date.

Moving south on the wheel, it's about community. Celebrate the diversity of the community including ethnicity, gender, age, able-disabled, sexual orientation and personality. Great organizations and teams seek inclusivity realizing the richness of different points of view.

Finally, to the west, it's about management or process improvement. How does the individual, team and organization do it faster, better and cost efficient?

There is essential "glue" that holds this wheel together. As you move from leadership to vision, the "glue" of trust, confidence and courage is important. Trust is a keystone value in any relationship.

As you move from vision to community, the essential glue is communication and respect.

Moving from community to process improvement, the essential glue is being able to resolve conflict and collaborate.

It is an accomplishment when a team has success and delivers positive results. It is a greater accomplishment when a team becomes significant. Significant teams leave a legacy and significance is what separates good teams from great teams.

Experience Team Building

Helium Stick is a great experience-based initiative that demonstrates the essential characteristics needed for a group of people to come together and work as a team.

The objective is for a group of people (6 to 15) to get a light weight pole or stick approximately 10' to 18' long to the ground while the pole merely rests on pointed fingers.

A lightweight tent pole, smallest diameter possible PVC pipe, fly fishing pole (without the reel) are all possibilities. You will also need a watch.

Ask for a volunteer. Have the volunteer point his/her pointer finger of each hand at waist level, arms bent. Place the center of pole on his/her fingers. Ask the participant to move the pole to the ground and not to stop until the sides of the hands are touching the floor. This usually takes the individual about 5 to 6 seconds without much effort.

Ask the group to divide themselves and line up across from each other. Ask all to point fingers, arms bent waist level. Place the pole on top of all the fingers.

Rules: Pole can only rest on top of finger. No gripping or holding the pole in any fashion. All fingers must remain in contact with the pole at all times. Fingers can not touch any other fingers. Check and note the time.

99% of the time the pole goes up before it goes down, hence the name Helium Stick. Note how long it takes the group to get the pole to the ground on the first effort. Personally, I have seen groups take anywhere from several minutes to over half an hour!

If an individual can get the pole to the ground quickly and easily, what will it take for the group to get the pole to the ground in the same amount of time with no errors and minding the rules?

Suggested Reading

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni ISBN 0-7879-6075-6
8 Lies of Teamwork by Michael Wachter ISBN 0-9661312-3-1
Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi ISBN 0-465-02411-4
1001 Ways to Energize Employees by Bob Nelson ISBN 0-7611-0160-8
Open Space Technology: A User's Guide by Harrison Owen ISBN 1-57675-024-8
Raptor and Other Team Building Activities by Sam Sikes ISBN 0-9646541-7-2

Suggested Movies

Chicken Run - see
FISH! Catch the Energy, Release the Potential - see