Category - Team-development-2

19.01 20160

A Walk on the Wild Side

I am an inhabitant of North America, but recently, a snow leopard crossed my path. I know that it seems a bit crazy since snow leopards are found in the Himalayas of Asia, but I had an encounter with a snow leopard. Really it was just a business conversation that involved a brief discussion of a snow leopard, but the conversation got me thinking. I immediately began searching for meaning, and this is what I discovered…

It is said that an encounter with a snow leopard never happens by chance. The encounter is always “on purpose,” and there are powerful lessons to be learned from such an elusive and secretive animal when it makes itself known to you. I consulted the Universe of Symbolism and discovered that snow leopards are the symbol for intuition. When a snow leopard appears on your path, in any form, the meaning is that you need to trust your own intuition. If the symbol persists in your midst, then you are being called to trust in what you cannot see.

My thoughts turned to what lessons could be garnered from my encounter. Intuition is important because it can lead you to what you want, as well as point you away from eminent danger and mistakes. Following are some strategies I found for promoting the development of intuition in interactions with others:

ABANDON FEAR AND EGO – Move away from behaviors prompted from fear and ego. Fear and ego cause us to numb our senses instead of heighten our own perceptions of our environment. • SEEK SILENCE – Revel in silence as a way to awaken your senses to hear profound messages. Silence allows us to see otherwise hidden opportunities and dangers. •HEIGHTEN PERCEPTIONS – Become open to perceiving the elements around you. With heightened perception, we see what others miss. The more we use intuition, the more it grows and becomes responsive to our needs. • FOLLOW INNER GUIDANCE – Learn to be in tune with your thoughts and ideas and develop self -trust for following through with your instincts. Pay attention to your own response to ideas and projects… Do the ideas and projects bring tension or a feeling of ease? Tension means you should go in another direction. The path will lead to blocks and rework. Ease means that you will find assistance with your ideas rather than resistance. You may have challenges, but the challenges will make you smarter and stronger. •SHARE LEARNING WITH OTHERS – Impart to others what you have learned. When you impart learning you reach an elevated state of personal fulfillment by benefiting those around you with your ideas and actions.

Legend says that there is a hidden oasis of peace and prosperity in the Himalayas, where the snow leopards live, and that this land is only for those who are in accord with the highest vibrations of being, a personal energy that can promote the well being of all when shared with the world. To find that hidden oasis, we need to use intuition to listen to our own instincts to help us choose the path that makes us smarter and stronger to benefit the world.

Since you are reading this article, the snow leopard now has crossed your path as well, and you should seek to use your intuition to benefit those around you with your ideas and projects. Use intuition in your interactions with the teams and groups with whom you work and let it guide you on a path for the good of the whole.

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25.07 20150

Rising Above Vicissitude – How to Build a Team

Recently, I was at lunch with coworkers and conversation turned to vicissitude. “Vicissitude, what is that?” I say.   Someone explained that it is a negative, unpredictable change in your luck or circumstances, a downturn. When talking of the vicissitudes of life, people are referring to the difficult times that we all go through… surprising, unwelcome episodes of pain or strife. In other words, “life has its ups and downs.” What goes up will come down. A high will eventually become a low, many times very unexpectedly, but how do we cope? How do we rise above a vicissitude or low point?

Al Siebert addresses this idea in his book “The Survivor Personality.” He takes a look at those people who meet very difficult life circumstances with uncommon courage and not only survive but thrive. He identifies the personality type of these individuals as a survivor personality. In the study of survivability, Siebert noticed that the Rambo types are the first to go. Survivors do not exhibit a self-centered survival of the fittest attitude, but rather such strong self-confidence that they do not have to act mean or tough. Survivors have a relaxed awareness; their personal radars are always on scan. Survivors are tough, but they show patience. They are pushed hard, but they are tolerant. Survivors hold up well under pressure. Siebert points out that if you go into deadly combat, these are the soldiers that you want to be with. These are the types of people you want to be on your team.

How can you identify and recruit these people to be on your team? Luck or fate is not the reason for survival; rather, something about the people’s personalities tips the scales in their favor. Per Siebert’s study, survivors possess some specific notable qualities. Survivors are learners who are more interested in continually learning, rather than just knowing. A person’s resume may be impressive with education and training, but what is his or her level of curiosity? Survivors incorporate information differently…they do not just take it in, store and regurgitate. They find patterns and make maps. A person may have a lot of certifications, but is he or she creative and engaged in thought processes? Survivors have predictable ways of reacting. Can the person hold a steady course of action?   Survivors maintain confidence in stressful situations. Is the person able to use his or her wits to apply previous training when under pressure?

Can survivability be promoted in existing teams? Siebert asserts that survivor qualities can be learned but not taught. Survivability is a discovery process that no other human can reveal to you. To assist with the development of these characteristics in our teams, we have to promote a culture and create an environment that fosters these traits. Promote a culture of continuous learning and improvement by offering hands-on training. Approach work in small increments, allowing the team to use trial and error to learn from failure. Promote a culture of self-accountability by instituting daily standups. Instill in the team the importance of the self-discipline of monitoring good practices through team working agreements. Use coaching techniques of questioning and guidance rather than direct instruction to allow a person to discover the answers. Be open to questioning the way things work. Develop an attitude of learning from mistakes or failures through regular retrospectives. Promote the Responsibility Matrix model to avoid blaming and victimization reactions. Use adversity to drive change by taking immediate action on learning.

Survivor characteristics are greatly important to both individuals and organizations as people learn to surmount crisis through personal effort, and not only survive, but thrive. Teams of people can learn to pick themselves up after failure or negativity, learn important lessons, set positive goals and rebuild, operating at a higher level than before. They can find growth from the pain and negativity previously experienced, rather than feeling victimized. Siebert profoundly points out that the way we interact with life determines if we will survive and if we will just survive or learn to thrive. Our attitudes will determine our well being more than our circumstances. With the right attitudes we can not only survive the vicissitudes of life but also rise above.

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26.10 20140

Environmentally Conscious Relationships

There is a lot of focus now on being green… being environmentally conscious. What does that really mean? It means making conscious decisions about how to treat your environment and choosing options that are not only good for the moment but are also good for the future. It means being sustainable. Not taking more than you are giving. This sort of awareness of how we treat our environment should also extend to what kind of environment that we create in our emotional world.  We should learn to have environmentally conscious relationships. Have you ever been in a toxic relationship? Basically you become a dumping ground for the other person’s toxic materials. How does this happen? It usually starts in a small way… you tolerate a little bad behavior, and then before you know it, you are a dump for the mother load of stinking, rotten, bad behavior. The toxic person is only concerned about themselves and their needs. You feel hurt, taken advantage of and angry. Sure, your life is colorful, but instead of thinking green all you can do is see red, and the angry red takes over. Passive aggressive behavior is the breeding ground for toxic relationships. Direct communication is the only cure. You have to open a dialogue to a possible resolution. If the toxic person is not open to the conversation, then you will know where you stand in the relationship and make future positive plans to move on. I coach teams to become green and rid themselves of toxic waste through a direct communication exercise conducted frequently called retrospective. Feelings are often a topic of retrospectives, and thus many teams want to avoid them and say that they are not a best use of time. You can always tell teams that practice retrospectives from the ones that do not. Some measures of the level of toxicity will be demeanor of the people, productivity, and turnover. There are some symptoms that you will feel if you are on a toxic team; the same ones you experience in a toxic personal relationship. If toxicity is high, it will seem like you cannot do anything right. Everything will always be about others and never about you. You may find yourself unable to enjoy good moments with the team or uncomfortable being yourself around team members. You will feel stifled and not allowed to grow and change. How do you manage a toxic team or individual relationship? There are some generally accepted guidelines for managing a negative situation. First, you have to step out of denial and acknowledge that the situation is detrimental to your well-being and that the situation is holding you back from achieving your potential. You have to identify how you feel in the present and what the perks are, if any, of maintaining the relationship. You can soothe yourself by finding alternative sources of positivity outside the team or relationship… filling the hole that is missing. Being surrounded with people focusing on the art of the possible will allow you to work toward healing until you are at a point that you can let go and move on if necessary. Hopefully, your team or relationship can be salvaged before this point. Good retrospectives are a great place to start. It is important to remember that what we say and do is never as important as how we make people feel. This quote from Maya Angelou is a pearl of wisdom, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you did; but people will never forget how you make them feel.” Change the color of your relationships… move from red to green. Make conscious choices about how to treat the people around you. Choose actions that are not only good for the moment but also good for the future. Have sustainable relationships… don’t take more than you give. As Kermit the Frog says “It’s not eazee being green,” but it is well worth the effort. The benefits are long-lasting; they echo into the future.

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21.06 20140


A shot rings out piercing the air space around it. A bullet speeds towards its intended target. Once released nothing can return it to its previous state of rest. It is traveling on a path of destruction to its intended target or whatever steps in the path between. Does the shooter just walk away oblivious to the moment of impact and its aftermath? No...there is recoil. Recoil is the backward momentum of a firearm once it is discharged. The force of the act that has just been perpetrated travels back through the body of the shooter to the ground and moves the shooter backward in space, but there is no movement back in time because once fired the bullet can never be returned to its previous state of rest. The amount of recoil felt by the shooter is dependent on the mass of the gun. The amount of energy transferred to the shooter depends upon counter recoil forces applied. A gun with free recoil will move the shooter in an angular pattern thus impacting the firing of the gun and the path to the intended target, creating greater inaccuracies and more stray bullets hitting innocent bystanders. I have heard people comment to others "Don't shoot off your mouth." Given the context above this has a good deal of meaning. Anger creates in people a free recoil situation. When a person begins to angrily fire at his or her intended target whether by words or deeds, the angry party has so little aim that innocent bystanders are often wounded. Destructive words and acts move us backward in space, not forward. Recently I heard a speaker talk about the difference between responding and reacting. Our goal should be to learn to respond instead of to react. Let's keep our focus on what we are for, not what we are against. When we focus our energy on what we are against, we create free recoil situations where we create destruction around us and cause stray bullets to harm innocent bystanders. The next time you face opposition think about how you can respond in the positive with what you are for instead of reacting in anger to what you are against. The positive moves us forward and the negative moves us backward. Give great pause before you create war zones in your professional or personal life. Create positive environments that move ideas and people forward and limit the amount of recoil you experience from your own reactions.

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