Author Archives: Will Ratliff

4 Ways to Gamify Your Goals

4 ways leaders can gamify their goals

Gamify. It’s the new buzzword in online circles. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically adapting game design elements and principles into something that isn’t necessarily game related. Do we need to be that entertained? Even normal tasks must be gamified? 🙂

If you’re anything like me, some goals can seem overly daunting. Others can be simply mundane. Using gamification can help break those daunting objectives into something more manageable and turn those everyday tasks into something a bit more fun.

We tend to pursue what we enjoy, right? For some, the act of setting and maintaining/pursuing goals can be fun in and of iteslef. For others, it can seem overly difficult. So, I thought I’d try to offer some ways that you could make the process more fun.

SET UP YOUR SYSTEM

  • View your goal-achieving as a game. I tend to take things too seriously. Although I love to have fun, there’s some things that can really stress me out. Goals should not be one of those. They should be things we enjoy doing and achieving. Yes, they will be challenging, but we should like the ones we attempt to complete. Think about setting up your future plans as a game. Games typically have a way to accumulate points, levels when you get to certain objectives, and prizes you achieve as you win.
  • Create a point system for your goals. Think about the kind and amount of points you want to assign to each goal. Short-term goals would receive fewer points. Long-term or bigger goals would receive more points. Once you hit a certain number, then you stop and celebrate (see below.)
  • Leveling up. As you achieve certain goals, you make the game harder. Each time you accumulate a set amount of points, you get to level up. When you improve and level up, the “prizes” get bigger and the levels get more challenging (more points required to Level Up.) Here’s an idea for how to establish the levels and points:
    • Level 1 (0 – 99 points) – Goal Starter
    • Level 2 (1000 – 1199 pts.) – Goal Getter
    • Level 3 (1200 – 1499 pts.) – Goal Commander
    • Level 4 (1500 – 1999 pts.) – Goal Master
    • Daily tasks = 1-2 points
    • 2-week goals = 10 points on completion
    • 30 day goals = 25 points on completion
    • 90-day goals = 100 points on completion

SPECIFY THE STAKES

  • Raise the bar. There’s no fun in achieving something easy or within your comfort zone. Where’s the fun in that? Make sure you set goals that are risky and outside your comfort zone.You might need to rethink how you set your goals.
  • Decide what you will risk. I’m not talking about gambling here, but how can you make your goals riskier? How will you push yourself outside of your comfort zone to achieve something that is difficult?
  • Determine what the rewards will be. The greater the risk and challenge, the greater the reward needs to be. It doesn’t have to be a monetary reward, but it can be. Reward yourself with extra time with your wife or kids, for example. Or reward yourself with a personal day to do something you enjoy. Decide what you will earn for each level. The more you Level Up, the more the reward should be.

CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS

This is something that many people forget when setting goals. You need to celebrate your wins – big and small. Some people may celebrate their big successes, but the small milestones are just as important.

  • Map out WHEN you’ll celebrate. At what point of achievement will you celebrate? Again, you could set a certain level of points where you’ll celebrate once you hit it. Or, you could celebrate at the completion of each goal. Be careful that you don’t wait too long or make these celebration points too difficult to achieve. Plus, you can always adjust your system as you go if necessary.
  • Line up HOW you’ll celebrate. Before you start your goals, I would determine how you will celebrate the completion of each “level” or points, whatever you’ve already decided. Then, stick to it. It’s easy to blow past your milestones and postpone the celebration. But, it’s important for your morale to take time and acknowledge what you’ve accomplished. Again, it doesn’t have to cost money, and it doesn’t have to be something grand. The importance is that you take time to recognize your wins.

SELECT YOUR SUPPORT CREW

Alright, this is where it could really get fun and motivating, especially if you have a team. If not, encourage your friends to join in the fun.

  • Challenge each other. Gamifying your goals can be fun on your own, but what if you got a few friends involved? Your goals don’t have to be the same, and you don’t even have to have the same system. The point is to encourage each other and help each other achieve more.
  • Keep each other accountable. There’s a lot of accountability in telling someone else what you want to accomplish. Form a Facebook Group for your team to stay connected. You and others can post when goals have been achieved, and you can encourage and support each other when the going gets tough.
  • Celebrate wins together. Whether you do this as an online group or in person, make sure to recognize people when they hit their goals. Sometimes it’s easier to celebrate someone else’s achievements than our own. It’s also motivating when we see others accomplishing their goals. We can get an extra push of motivation.

However you decide to set goals for the new year, be sure that they are goals that you really want to achieve and line up with your vision for your life’s direction. Life is too short to pursue things that don’t really matter. Take some time before the beginning of next year and work on your goals – whether you choose to gamify them or not.

How will you make your goals more engaging and fun this next year? If you choose to gamify your goals – let me know. I’d love to see what you create. 

Take Time For What Really Matters

what matters most as leaders

As we come to the close of another year, there are a lot of things that compete for our attention. Shopping for presents, attending Christmas or holiday parties, preparing for family and office gatherings. The list seems to go on and on. Though we seek to spend time with family, even the busy-ness of the season (which is supposed to be fun and relaxing) can often be filled with stress and headaches.

I’m sure you have heard (from me, even) that now is the perfect time to be planning for next year. It’s true, I started setting goals and thinking about what I want to accomplish next year. I also take time to reflect on the past year: where I did well and areas I’d like to improve.

Just this morning though, I wanted to pause and encourage you (and myself) to carve out time for what really matters. I can easily get wrapped up in all the planning and scheming for next year’s goals, for scheduling and thinking about holiday gatherings and kids’ activities we have to attend and forget the things that really matter to me.

Just recently, I spoke with 2 business owners and their stories are very similar. They are in completely different businesses (even vastly different industries), yet one thing is the same. They both have marriages that ended and at least one has kids that now have to split time between two homes. Their businesses are probably not the only thing to blame for the failed marriages; however, one of them is a direct result of spending too much time traveling and out of the country.

My Family Inspires Me

This holiday season, whatever you believe or dream or desire, make sure you make time for what matters most. For me, it’s my family. I have a wife and 2 awesome kids that continue to inspire me.

There are times that I am away from home, but my goal is to make that time less and less. I love to travel but I also want to make that a reality for my family. There are times I must be away from them, but I also dream of traveling with them.

Community Keeps Me Grounded

We have a great network of friends where we live and continually look for ways to increase our local connections. One thing we enjoy is to invite families over and have dinner together. This seems to be a lost art form of building community.

We find that we are in the minority of people who do this. Most families (I assume) are either too busy or too tired to invite people over. There is some value in online connections, but there is far greater value in face-to-face connections.

Kids Need More of You (Not More Stuff)

If you’re a parent, let me encourage you to give the gift of your time this season to your kids. Today, the morning news mentioned a phenomenon called “toy guilt.” This is what parents feel when they can’t get that new trendy toy for their kids. (Do we need to call the “wah”mbulance? 🙂 .)

I’ve been a parent for over 12 years, and I can say that our kids have never had the “latest and greatest’ when it comes to toys. (They are not suffering, I can assure you.) We don’t focus on stuff. They do get presents, but we don’t go overboard and usually wait until things are either on sale or are a couple of generations removed (especially for tech-related gifts).

Make Margin for More Life

As I look forward to the new year, my thoughts center around how I can make space for more of the above. How can I have a greater impact on my kids and family? How much room can I make for them in my life?

What kinds of ways will I foster greater connections with people around me? In my neighborhood and with our friends?

How can I set the kinds of goals that take all of those things into account and build the kind of business that not only works for me but works for those around me?

This season, I want to think about those things. I encourage you to consider, too, the kind of impact you want to have with those you love and what matters most to you. Then, set the kinds of goals that both you and those closest to you would be proud of.

What goals will you set this year? How do those goals match what kind of impact you want to make on others? Are the two congruent? 

Why You Need to Rethink Your Goals

rethink your goal setting

It’s crazy to believe that there are only just a few weeks left in 2016. I’m curious.

How did you do with your goals this year?

How did your team do with their goals?

As for me, I hit some goals WAY earlier than expected and am still working towards others. For this next year, I’m doubling down. I’ve already started planning for my goals for next year, with one big exception.

I’m changing the way I’m doing my goals, and I invite you to join me on this new little adventure. The change is based off of some things that I’ve learned from Michael Hyatt, one of the nation’s most influential bloggers and leadership experts.

Be Intentional.

For 2017, I want to be more thoughtful about the way I set and reach my goals. Goals don’t just happen. You’ve probably heard the saying that “a goal without a plan is just a dream.”

It’s true. To reach your goals, you need a plan. Like I mentioned before, I’m starting my plan early this year. I’m already beginning that thought process of what I’m going to achieve next year.

Be Specific.

Most goals are way too specific. I’ve worked with groups on goal-setting, and this is a common problem. Goals that are set are way too broad, have no deadline, and are not broken down into specific steps that are achievable.

You have to be specific to reach your goals. “Be a better leader” won’t cut it. You need to be more specific. “Read 1 leadership book each month” is a better goal.

Be Risky.

I really like to challenge myself when it comes to goal-setting. There is a fine line between risky and unattainable. However, this year I set a goal to reach 10,000 visitors to my blog by year end, and I hit that goal just a little over the half-way point in the year. I knew it was risky, but I also wanted to push my limits and see what would happen.

Be Accountable.

Find a way to set goals with others and hold each other accountable. Don’t get down on yourself or others when you slip. You are there for encouragement to keep each other going.

Who is someone you trust that will help you achieve your goals. Begin now to make a list and write some names down of people you will contact and ask them to set and achieve some goals with you.

If you struggle with setting and reaching goals or if you struggle with helping your team set their goals, then there’s hope. I want to offer you a chance to get in on a new goal-setting challenge that I’m offering starting next week. Best part – it’s free (at least for now)!

You will also get free PDF downloads of the planning tools that I’ve just created for my own goal-setting for this next year. (I Just ask that you don’t duplicate it and give it to someone else – feel free to print copies for your personal use, though. Better yet, direct them to my site where they can sign up for the challenge and get them for free too! Boom!)

It starts next Tuesday, so if you’re up for the challenge, watch for more details soon. And be expecting more ways to rethink your goals over the upcoming weeks. There will be some exciting things I’ll be sharing.

When it comes to setting goals, what is your biggest struggle? What is the hardest part for you to achieve your goals?

5 Leadership Lessons You Can Learn from a Micro-Manager

leadership lessons from a micro manager

When I was in my early twenties, within the space of about three weeks I lost my job, my grandmother passed away (her funeral was on my birthday, no less), my dog died, and I became fairly ill. It was like a country song gone bad.

During that season, I worked for a guy that was a micro-manager. I was in a job that stretched me, for sure. But I was willing to work on the things that I didn’t know, and I was committed to do whatever I needed to make things work with my boss.

No matter your situation there are leadership lessons that you can learn. Regardless of circumstances, there are always “take-away’s.” These are lessons you can learn if you give it a little thought and reflect on your experiences.

Here are five such lessons I learned from my experience working with a micro-manager:

Be willing to work on your differences

One of my takeaways from that experience is to always be willing to work on the things that make you different. Everyone has unique gifts and strengths to bring to the table.

What are your strengths? What are your boss’s strengths? What are your subordinate’s strengths? What differences are there? How can your differences complement one another?

If you sit down and go through these, chances are you’ll find that your strengths and even differences complement each other and, if you use them correctly, can really move your team from being so-so to being awesome!

Hire the right people for the right position.

Knowing about strengths and personality can also help on the front end. Before you ever hire someone, it would serve you well to perform a personality test and a strengths assessment. Using these two things can tell a boss or hiring manager up front if they are the right person for the position you’re hiring for (and, just as importantly, if they’re not).

There are a number of professionals that use the Stengthsfinder 2.0 assessment for hiring. Leadership guru and virtual mentor, Michael Hyatt, is one of them.

Give people the freedom to do their jobs.

Once you hire a person, you’ve just given that person your endorsement. If you feel a need to micro-manage, then the insecurity is really with yourself. So, back off and let the person do what you’ve hired them to do.

Give your new hire time to adjust to the new position, responsibilities, and culture. If you discover they need additional training for technical skills, then provide

If you discover that someone is not as proficient as they first seemed? You have at least two options:

  • Provide more training.
  • Let them go and rehire that position.

The issue with the second option is that it usually will cost you more to re-hire than to invest in some training.

Develop your people as needed.

Every company should have a training culture. The best companies know that it is easier and cheaper to train staff than to rehire for those positions.

Few people come into a new job or position knowing everything they need to know. Whether it’s a matter of training on company culture and process or learning new hard skills, there is a learning curve for every job. (Even for people that move within a company, different departments can even have their own unique culture within the overall company culture.)

Investing in training leads to more engagement and better retention of employees. Commit to a culture of training and development.

Work on Yourself as the Leader

There are a number of companies that have a great training culture…initially. Does your company continue to develop and encourage the development of its employees beyond the first few weeks or months?

Amazon’s training includes a 1-month initial training program as well as prepays 95% of employee’s tuition for in-demand fields.

Bonobos, a leading retail company, has multiple offerings to train their employees in leadership, management and customer service.

Randstad US not only offers programs in management, leadership, communication, and presentation skills, but also offers its employees both mentoring and coaching services.

As you may have gathered, my boss was not committed to working on things as I was, and I was let go. It was disappointing, but I definitely did learn a lot from that experience.

There are some things that both of us could have done to really make that situation better. I have learned to be a better communicator. The pastor I worked with could have committed to working on the relationship and helping me get better instead of asking me to leave immediately.

It may not have been the right position for me anyway; however, that’s why it’s so important to know more about people on the front end of hiring. I definitely believe that every company, every boss, and every hiring manager could benefit from doing their due diligence before they hire anyone. And every company can engage their employees by providing training to get them familiar with the company culture and continue to develop them as leaders and people.

What does your company do before hiring someone? What kind of on-going training do you provide? 

[photo credit: Nosnibor137 and Bigstock Photo.]

Three Secrets of a Super-Fun Team

secrets to a super fun team

Have you ever wondered what makes some teams great and some, well, duds? So have I. I’ve been on teams that work really well together and are downright a blast to be a part of. I’ve been on others where I couldn’t wait to go home at the end of the day. For many people, it may be a mixture of both fun and frustrating.

In working with a number of different teams, I’ve noticed a common thread among the ones who work really well together. There are certain characteristics that make these teams click. Lack of any of them, however, can cause any number of team dysfunctions.

Super-fun teams are good at collaboration

Fun teams work well together and have an atmosphere of trust and cooperation. If you’ve ever experienced working with people you don’t trust, you know how stifling that can be. And, it just takes one person to ruin an environment of trust.

You would think trust takes a lot of time to develop. The fact is, trust can be developed very quickly and that foundation can continue to be built upon. According to Stephen Covey, there are 13 behaviors you can us to develop what he calls “the speed of trust.”

Collaboration is a by-product of a high-trust environment. You can see this in those with whom you work. You tend to work well with those you trust and avoid those you don’t. The partnerships you seek are with people you know you can trust – for obvious reasons.

As you look at your team – how would you rate your level of collaboration?

Super-fun teams exhibit effective communication

Teams and co-workers communicate all the time. But is it effective? Have you moved forward with a project, only to find out at the end, that you weren’t given all the critical details?

When your team communicates effectively, it will increase productivity and significantly effect your bottom line, as well as overall team morale. People will feel more engaged and a critical part of the process.

What is the level of effective communication within your team?

Super-fun teams know when it’s time for celebration

I’m a part of a team that loves to celebrate. Whether it’s someone’s birthday, or a new team member comes on board or leaves, we celebrate. (And, no, we’re not celebrating the fact they’re leaving but going on to new adventures!)

The celebration usually centers around food, as well as the person we are celebrating. There is eating, laughing, conversation, eating, more laughing, sometimes singing, maybe a game or two (but not always), eating, frivolity, and did I mention eating? 🙂 Usually there is a theme, and it’s based on something that the person we’re celebrating likes.

We do our best to not talk about work (for the most part we are very successful). It’s not time to check in on business, but it is time for a party. We have lots of fun and don’t worry about work.

So, you may know these things already. The question then becomes, how do we make the above a reality? One of the best ways I know of to increase all of these is through a combination of icebreakers and team building activities.

That’s why I wrote a brand new book of these kind of exercises called, 10 Super Fun Team Icebreakers and Challenges. In it, you’ll find 10 team building activities that have never been printed anywhere else.

super fun team ebook

These are activities that I’ve spent the last few months creating and designing for teams just like yours. Whether you need better collaboration, communication, or you just want a day of celebration, these exercises will help your team, all based on the superhero theme.

You can use these activities one at a time, or you can group them together for a Super-Fun team adventure. Or do a half-day event by picking and choosing a few of the challenges. You decide.

Here’s a sneak peek at the book.

Right now, you can order the book for only $10. It not only includes the activities, but also has suggestions for how to use the book, instructions for how to facilitate each activity, and also (my personal favorite) a “Deep Dive” section where you can take the activity further and dig into the challenges even more.

If you end up buying the book and do some of the activities, please let me know. I’d love to know how it goes – send pictures, email me with how it went – who knows, maybe you and your team will even be featured on the blog or my social media accounts (with your permission, of course!)

Top 10 Reasons Your Team Building Activities are Ineffective

ineffective team building activities

“I really don’t want to share anymore,” one of my coworkers said.

“Why not?” the facilitator demanded.

“Because this isn’t the place,” she replied. At that point, Kara began to cry and walked off.

Talk about your awkward moments. Fortunately, I wasn’t the facilitator or the one who made her cry. (Phew!)

Why did that turn out so badly? I’ll finish the story in a bit, but first let me share some of the other the top ten reasons why you may not be getting the desired results out of your team building activities.

Reason 1: You never set any goals.

Goals are important for most business activities and team building is no exception. For a team building program to be effective, you must start by setting goals.

– What do you want the end result to be/look like?

– What areas of your team do you want to focus on? Communication? Personality styles? Vision? Values? Leadership development? Conflict resolution? Problem solving?

– What activities match your desired goals?

All of these (and more) can be addressed, but you probably don’t want to focus on too many of these at a time. Take time to set goals and focus on results you want to see and watch your team capacity skyrocket!

Reason 2: You never debriefed the activity.

I’m a big proponent of processing challenges. There are numerous ways to do this. You can use standard questions, or you can use more creative debriefing solutions.

The processing time doesn’t have to be long and drawn out, and it doesn’t have to be awkward. You can even use other activities or an experiential process to debrief the exercise.

Whatever method you decide to use, though, just don’t skip this part of the activity. This is where a lot of a-ha moments can happen.

Reason 3: You aren’t connecting the team building activities to real-world scenarios.

Often times, this mistake happens in the debrief. This is where “a ha” moments can really begin to take shape. You want to let the team make the connections, but there are times when they will need help to do so. Asking a question such as, “So how do you see a similar situation playing out at work?” or “How would you see this team solving a similar challenge elsewhere?”

These questions can help people bridge the gap between the activity and how to implement the same or similar strategies in the future.

Reason 4: You are not following up.

There is certainly a time where a stand-alone icebreaker or team building activity is called for. Most of the time, though, for your team to gain the optimal value from these programs, there needs to be follow-up.

Mark Collard of Playmeo recommends monthly follow-up sessions for all of the organizations he works with. I think this is a fabulous idea. We tend to get busy and distracted. Following up with people, and seeing how things have gone, where they are, and what questions they have is one key to lasting change.

Reason 5: You’re too serious.

There is a time to be serious, but there is also a lot of fun to be had when doing team building exercises and programs. However, when we begin to expect people to do things the “right way” or are too intense, it can hamper creativity and problem solving.

The great thing about team building activities is that every group will respond differently. Learning how to handle and adapt to each situation is one of the greatest traits of an effective facilitator.

So relax, have fun, and don’t be too serious! 🙂

Reason 6: The activities aren’t challenging.

Another reason your team building program may not be effective is using activities that never push people past their comfort zone. If everyone stays in their safety zone, then people aren’t challenged to the point where transformation can occur. There is a fine balance between stretching people and making them panic (see Reason #8); however, the team building exercises should be challenging.

Making these  too easy, or giving people the answers without really letting them struggle to find it could be a reason that you’re not seeing the effectiveness of these activities.

Reason 7: You did not adequately prepare.

Leading team building activities is more than just picking something that looks good or fun. There’s nothing wrong with having fun (see Reason 6 above); however, there is preparation that you will need to do before taking people through activities. You’ll want to set goals, determine what challenges you want to work on, and what activities will best fit the issues your team needs to navigate.

Doing some prep work beforehand will make the challenges much more relevant and effective for your team.

Reason 8: Your team building activities pushed people too far, too fast.

In his book Serious Fun, Mark Collard talks about 3 different zones that people can experience during this experiential training process. There is the safety zone, the stretch zone, and the panic zone. There is a process by which people can be moved from the safety zone to the stretch zone (without reaching the panic zone) in a way that provides optimal engagement and transformation.

If you try to push people too far in a short amount of time, then they will enter the panic zone and not be able to transfer what they are experiencing to real-world scenarios. They are too busy trying to get back to the point where they feel safe.

Pushing people is fine, but there is a process to doing so. You can stretch people without pushing them into panic-mode.

Reason 9: You did not prepare the group properly.

I once experienced a team building effort as a participant where my boss basically sprung a series of trainings on us that were very personal and the facilitator was borderline intrusive. Many of our group resisted and were bitter about our director not letting us know what we were in for.

That situation was what precipitated the events that I mentioned above. So how did the story end?

My coworker eventually calmed down, came back and our team participated (most very hesitantly and with much resistance) in the activities that this lady had planned for us. There were several lessons I learned that day about facilitation that I vowed never to do. This was just one of them.

People want a choice, but if you want something to be mandatory (which is fine), then prepare them ahead of time. A good facilitator will come to you with a plan and let you know (as much as possible) what can be expected. There will, no doubt, be some surprises during the activities: how people respond, who ends up with a great idea, the ways that people will interact and try to problem-solve.

Make sure you communicate to your team what’s going to happen and what they can expect. You don’t have to give away the farm, but don’t expect them to respond favorably to an “impromptu team building day” that you had planned for a while.

Reason 10: Your activities aren’t tied to a broader plan.

Team building activities are great. They can be fun, challenging, and create a space where awesome things can happen. However, if they aren’t connected to more than just an event or training, then they just become fun exercises that will fade into people’s memories.

To get the most out of them, tie these to a broader training plan that includes small group and one-on-one coaching, leadership development trainings, and the overall vision and values of your organization.

While team building activities can be very effective, the lack of any one of these things could cause fewer positive outcomes than what you, as the leader, want. Include all of these things and see if your teams don’t experience greater results.

Photo image credit .

Disclosure:  Some of the links above are affiliate links, and if you decide to make a purchase I will earn a commission at no additional cost to you.  Please know that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something but because they are helpful and useful. Please only spend money on these products if you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your or your team’s goals.

Leadership Lessons I Learned from My Daughter, the Junior Philanthropist

Leadership lessons I learned from my daughter

It’s a lot of fun to watch children grow up as a parent, especially when they start to come into their own as a person. I have two kids and both are pretty amazing in their own ways. My 9-year old son loves sports and works hard at each of them and is very naturally gifted in the athletic arena.

My daughter continues to amaze me with both her thoughtfulness and unselfishness and her willingness to sacrifice for others. I wish I could tell you I taught her that, or it was an intentional outcome of great parenting. However, she has exhibited this characteristic since she was very young.

I remember her making cards for her friends that were sick when she was in Kindergarten and first grade. She made a sympathy card for one of her teachers when she was in the 4th grade that showed an enormous amount of compassion and empathy.

What’s impressed me most, though, is her willingness to raise money for a specific group of kids in Haiti. My wife has visited an orphanage in Haiti over the last few years – Hands Across The Sea. It is an integral part of her year, and my daughter has involved herself in a number of ways, even though she hasn’t been able to go (yet).

Molly decided a couple of years ago that she wanted to help one of the students pay for school. The amount she needed to raise? Two hundred seventy five dollars. That’s a decent amount for anyone to fund-raise, but for a 9-year old? I didn’t want to discourage her, but I had my doubts. Yet I also knew my daughter and, once she decides to do something, she’s almost impossible to stop.

After a year of lemonade stands, selling rainbow loom bracelets, collecting change, dog-walking and more, she did it. She saved up for a whole year and not once did I see her get down or discouraged. She accomplished her goal chunk by chunk, bit by bit.

You should have seen her face when we counted the money and she was only $10 shy of reaching her goal. She was overjoyed! And, being the good dad that I am ;), I committed the final $10 to the cause.

Just this weekend, she made cake pops for her teachers for Valentine’s Day. She had help from a couple of friends, but she did the majority of the work herself. (And they’re a lot of work!) They were pretty amazing too! (Just ask our neighbor who recently ate 9 in one sitting.)

And she’s back at it for the kids in Haiti. Last night, she went to Hobby Lobby with my wife and used $25 of her own money to buy them art supplies, toys, and fun crafts to do. She loves it. And she can’t wait until the day that she can go with my wife to meet these kids in person. And they will love her!

To say I’m proud of my daughter is an understatement. But it’s not about what she does or is doing.

It’s about Who. She. Is.

She’s making a difference one life at a time. And here’s what I’ve learned and continue to learn from my baby girl.

Do What’s On Your Heart

Whether it’s big or small, act on your intuition. Help when you can and where you can. Don’t worry about the what or when or why. As you seek to do what’s on your heart, doors will open and you might be pretty amazed at the result.

Give What You Can, When You Can

Again, it doesn’t have to be a huge sum of money. It might just be a little bit of your time or a smile that can make a difference in someone’s day. Write a note to or text a friend and let them know you’re thinking about them. Send a card with a handwritten note. Or cake pops. You could make some cake pops. 🙂

Think Outside of Yourself

This is so hard sometimes. The older I get, the harder it seems. When you have work, sports, music lessons, and more, life can get in the way. It’s easy to get lost in the busy-ness of life. But it’s important to remember and to think about how we can love and serve others. For Molly, it’s easy because that’s just who she is. For you and me, it might take a little more effort.

Persistence is Key

Chunk by chunk. Bit by bit. Stay on that goal until you achieve it. Does it matter if you don’t get it done by the time YOU want it accomplished? Don’t give up – keep after it – even if it takes much longer than expected. Think about how incredible it will be when you’ve achieved it.

Invite Others to Share in the Journey

My daughter is a very social creature. She loves being around friends and including them in her projects. What a great lesson to learn. Isn’t life more fun when we share the journey with others? Oftentimes, we start to wonder what people will think if we tell them about an idea or something we want to do. Ask other people to be involved – let them decide whether they want to or not (and don’t get discouraged if they say, “no”.)

Those are just a few of the lessons I learn from this crazy cool kid. I love watching her grow up and can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do with her in the future. Whatever it is, though, I know one thing. She will embody all the things I’ve listed above and more. Because that’s who she was created to be.

One more thing. Her birthday is coming up next month. Guess what she wants to do for her “party”? Go take some friends to feed the homeless at a local shelter. Yup. She’s THAT kid. And I love it.

What leadership lessons have you learned from your kids? What is one way you can implement the lessons above? Let me know in the comments below. 

Why Every Leader Should Use the DiSC Assessment with Their Team

leaders using disc assessment with team

I first used the DiSC assessment years ago when I was working at a church in Phoenix, Arizona. Our church hosted a workshop and one of the speakers led us in this personality assessment. Since then, I have used it multiple times and with multiple teams to help me discover more about who I’m working with and how to lead and/or work with others best.

Depending on which DISC test you use (there are a few variations), it will tell you how you respond to certain situations. It’s really more of a behavioral predictor (according to some) than an actual personality test, but it will tell you a lot about both.

What I like About the DiSC assessment…

There are a number of things I like about this behavior assessment over others. It has really become one of my go-to assessments when working with teams or even individuals. I even use it on the fly when dealing with colleagues or leaders (and I’ll explain how and why momentarily.) Here are a few of the benefits of DiSC that I see.

It’s Quick

The DiSC assessment takes no more than 15-20 minutes for the full profile. Again, this can vary somewhat depending on which specific assessment you take. I’ve also seen facilitators do a “quick” version of this profile technique in about 5-10 minutes (or less).

It’s Easy

I’ve worked with a number of personality tests and used them for students, leaders, and myself. There are some that are great and may go into more depth than the DiSC; however, I don’t think any are easier both to use, understand, and teach others to use.

This is really key for me. You don’t have to remember strange-sounding words like “choleric” or “phlegmatic” or remember which personality each of those represents. (For some reason, I can never keep those straight.)

You learn 4 letters, and each letter corresponds with the type of personality associated with the letter.

D stands for “dominant”. These are your Type-A people who fall into the natural leader category. They are driven and determined.

I represents the “influencers.” These are your everywhere-and-everything-is-a-party people. They are outgoing and love to be around a crowd.

S represents the “steadiness” personalities. These are the nice people that are very supportive. They are the encouragers and your loyal friends.

C describes the “conscientious” types. They are the organizers and effective members of your team. They thrive on detail and “doing it right.”

It’s Intuitive

This is where it gets FUN! 🙂 Once you get the DiSC assessment down (it doesn’t take long, remember, it’s easy!), then you can begin to use it to improve communication for your team, family, friends, etc.

It gets a little addictive to begin to see people in a different light. Here’s the thing: when you know how people behave in certain situations (or in general) you can drastically begin to improve your communication with them. You can vary your communication style depending on who you’re talking to.

You begin to anticipate  what each person needs:

  • Do they need the big picture or a lot of detail?
  • Do they need to know who’s coming or what the agenda will be?
  • Will they need to know how productive it will be or how much fun they’ll have?
  • And on and on…

The DiSC test doesn’t just help with communication, it also helps you know what each person would be best for specific roles:

  • Who can lead a team?
  • Who can hammer out the details?
  • Who can get everyone at the meeting or function?
  • Who can make sure all feel valued and cared for?

Can you imagine what you’d get done? Can you fathom what your team would get done? Feeling appreciated and understood. Feeling like you really know them and listen to them.

How Your Team Benefits from the DiSC assessment…

Develop Trust

One significant way to build trust with your team mates is for them to know and feel that you understand them and can relate with them. The DISC test helps by showing you what each person needs from you and one another in areas such as leadership, communication, work environment, and more.

Trust grows when you feel safe and know what to expect and what is expected from you. As a leader, it is important to know how to relate to each of your team members.

Increase Productivity

Imagine a work environment where you felt understood, appreciate, and valued. Your team leader gives you just the right balance of freedom and direction. You have open and honest communication with your manager and you feel comfortable sharing ideas, concerns, and asking for clarification if needed.

How productive do you think this team would be?

You can also build on the DiSC assessment by using Strengthsfinder 2.0. This profile allows you to identify the top 5 strengths of each of your team members. The identification of these strengths can then be used to align people into their giftings and further increase the productivity (and satisfaction) of your team.

Strengthen Collaboration

How well your team works together is a direct result of leadership and trust. Here are a few ways that the DISC personality assessment can increase collaboration:

  • Capitalize on each person’s strengths
  • Increase understanding between coworkers
  • Enhance communication strategies
  • Place people in the right roles (the first time!)

Collaboration and employee engagement go hand in hand. The better your team collaborates, the more engaged they will be and the more they will enjoy working on your team.

Communicate more effectively

It’s hard to communicate as it is. What if you could simplify that process and make it easier for you to communicate with others and for them to communicate with you? Each personality style communicates differently and understanding others and how they communicate will increase your communication strategy exponentially.

Have I convinced you yet? It really is a quick and easy way to improve your leadership and develop your team.

If you’re interested to learn more about the DISC or use it with your team these are the resources that I would recommend you start with:

DiSC Assessment (Individual) [Discounts start at orders of 10+ reports or more.]

DiSC Leadership Assessment

I’ve recently switched to PeopleKeys for all my DiSC assessment needs. They’ve been great to work with and their selection of assessments is amazing!

Whether you work with one team or multiple teams, I would also strongly encourage you to think about getting certified as a DISC trainer. This will not only increase your understanding of the DISC personality test but allow you to train others within your company or organization (including managers, team members, etc.)

DiSC Certification 

This certification is through 48Days and Dan Miller. I highly recommend all of his products and training. They are top notch!

What has been your experience with the DiSC assessment? What other ways and assessments do you use with your team? Let me know in the comments below? 

Disclosure:  Some of the links above are affiliate links, and if you decide to make a purchase I will earn a commission at no additional cost to you.  Please know that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something but because they are helpful and useful, .  Please only spend money on these products if you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals or your team’s goals.

Want to Be Trained by the Best?

Mark Collard Team Building Workshp
Hey Adventurers –
Have I got a special opportunity for you!
One of my mentors and one of the world’s leading team building trainers and the founder of Playmeo, Mark Collard, will be in the Dallas area next month and you could have an opportunity to train with him too.
I met Mark Collard last year at a workshop in Oklahoma City. I live about 4 hours away but knew I could not miss the opportunity to train with him, so I made the drive and WOW was it worth it! We’ve continued to stay in touch since, and he’s asked me to get in touch with some folks to see if you’d be interested in some training in January.
Mark will be in the Dallas area between January 25-27th. More details coming soon.
He’s so down-to-earth and extremely knowledgeable when it comes to facilitating groups of all sizes. If you live anywhere within driving distance of the Dallas area, you would be crazy not to come!
If you want more from your team(s):
  • Better communication
  • Increased trust
  • More fun
  • Stronger leadership

Then this is something that you won’t want to miss.

Bring yourself. Bring your team. Just get there any way you can.

All you need to do right now is let me know you’re interested in being kept in the loop by filling out this contact form. I will contact you as soon as I know more details.

This is perfect for you if you’re a:

  • Educator (at any level)
  • Youth leader
  • Corporate Trainer/facilitator
  • Outdoor educator or camp leader
  • Project Manager or Team Leader
  • Event or Conference Coordinator

If you’re interested, contact me and let me know. I will get back with you as soon as I have information on where and how to sign up for this unique opportunity!

 

5 Quick and Easy Holiday Team Building Activities

5 quick and easy holiday team building activities

Need some team building activities for the holidays? Here are five different ones that you can use as stand-alone activities or put them together for one amazing holiday gathering.

Each activity comes with instructions, and you can even download a 4-page PDF guide of this post at the end to take with you to your holiday party or team meeting. (The PDF includes additional ideas not listed in the post.)

1. Snowflake

Also called the Paper Tear activity, this exercise shows the importance of communication and clarifying instructions. This activity can be done with smaller teams as well as large groups.

Instructions:

Hand everyone a piece of paper. Once everyone has receive a piece, instruct them that this exercise is to be done with all eyes closed and in silence (except for the rustling of the paper.) Participants are not allowed to ask questions of you, their neighbor, or make comments about the process until it is completed.

Ask everyone to close their eyes and to follow these instructions exactly:

  1. Fold your paper in half.
  2. Fold it in half again.
  3. Tear off the top right corner.
  4. Fold your paper in half length-wise.
  5. Tear off the bottom left corner.
  6. Rotate your paper.
  7. Fold it in half again.
  8. Tear off a piece from the middle

Say, “If you followed these instructions exactly, all of your papers should look the same. Open your eyes and unfold your paper.” At this point, have them compare their papers with those around them.

Debrief questions:

What was it like to follow the instructions?

How hard or easy was it to not be able to clarify?

How does this resemble communication in your organization?

What ways could this process be improved/changed?

2. Helium Peppermint Stick

This is a variation on the helium stick team building activity. One year with a student leadership group, I wrapped red electric tape around a thin, long piece of PVC pipe to make it look like a peppermint stick. Depending on your team, you can create a story to go with this activity:

Santa’s elves have lost one of their peppermint sticks. It appears they’ve accidentally dropped some of the reindeer dust on it because it has a tendency to float up. It’s fairly fragile and very light weight. Because we don’t want to break it, we’re just going to use our index fingers to touch it. In order to reverse the effects of the reindeer dust, we have to set it on the floor as a team. Everyone must be touching the peppermint stick with both index fingers, and they must remain touching it the whole time.

This activity takes a lot of communication and cooperation to complete. It’s much harder than it seems at first.

Debrief questions:

  • What worked well during this activity?
  • What was your communication strategy in the beginning?
  • How did that change over time?
  • What observations did you make during this exercise?

3. Holiday Spectrums

Spectrums is a game that I learned personally from Mark Collard of Playmeo. The game is an icebreaker that asks participants to line up on a continuum based on two choices.

Designate two end points on the spectrum you’ve created. (You can use a couple of small cones, 2 chairs, roll out a long piece of webbing or duct tape, etc.) Tell your group members you’re going to read off what the 2 ends of the spectrum represent. For example, “dog lover” at this end (and indicate which end that would be) or “cat lover” at this end (point to the opposite end of the spectrum). You can choose to move to either end or pick somewhere in between. It doesn’t matter where you go, just pick a spot that you feel represents your answer.

Possible questions/categories for this team building activity:

a. Christmas is (The holidays are) awesome! OR Bah Humbug!

b. Griswold Christmas Lights… or Never put lights up

c. Black Friday shopping… or Stay at home and avoid the crowds!

d. I love holiday traditions… or I love to try new things every year!

e. I use wrapping paper… or I use gift bags.

Get more ideas by downloading the free PDF!

f. Create your own spectrum question(s).

After each person has selected their place, ask them their reason for selecting that particular spot on the spectrum (you don’t have to ask everyone – just get a few responses.)

What can we learn from each other during this activity?

4. Deck the Halls Scavenger Hunt

Option #1

Make a list of holiday items and assign points for each item. The larger or more hard to find items should have more points attached to them.

Give each team a list of the items and a time limit to gather items (typically 1-2 hours). If teams are late, they could face disqualification. I would suggest that you have the teams stay together for this activity. You can designate the teams stay within a certain area or allow them to venture out. (Just be aware that the larger the teams, the harder it will be to stay together if they are allowed outside of a certain area.)

See sample items in the PDF (Free download)

Option #2

This is the “bigger and better” approach to a scavenger hunt. Give each team a small item (small Christmas stocking, candy cane, ornament) and ask them that their job is to go out into the community and ask for something “bigger and better” than what they currently have. The idea is for each team to trade up to the most extravagant item that they can find in a certain amount of time.

Usually you give teams an hour or two to complete the task, meet back at a certain time (or face disqualification), and reveal what each team has been able to come up with. You can select a winner based on size of item or most expensive item. You could also give out other awards such as:

  • Most creative item obtained.
  • Biggest item.
  • Weirdest object.
  • Most likely to be found in a Michael Jackson video.
  • Most likely to be found in our boss’s house.
  • Create your own fun awards!

5. Holiday Mapping (Where in the world?)

Instructions:
Imagine the floor where you are is a map of the world. The center of the map is where we are physically. I will ask a series of questions and you move to the spot on the imaginary map that represents your answer to the question. For example, if I asked “Where were you born?” go ahead and move to that spot now. For each question, don’t worry about being able to afford

Additional question ideas:
a. Where in the world would you like to spend the holidays?

b. What other country’s holiday tradition(s) would you like to learn more about?

c. If you could take a 2-week vacation during the holidays (all expenses paid) where would you go? (You could also ask what they would do there once they’ve moved to their spot.)

d. Where in the world would you like to go for the New Year’s celebration?

e. What place would you absolutely NOT want to visit during the holidays? (This could create some laughs!)

f. <Insert your creative question here.>

After each question, call on a few individuals to name the place where they are and you might ask the reason they chose that particular place.

You’ll have great fun with these activities. Don’t forget to download the PDF (FREE) that also includes ideas for the scavenger hunt items above, as well as additional ideas not listed in this post.

What activities are you planning to use? What other holiday activities do you use for team building? Let me know in the comments below!

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