Category Archives: Leadership Development

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? ūüôā

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? ūüôā .)

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? ūüôā 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!)

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!

10 Ways to Help Your Team Be More Thankful

ways to make your team thankful

‘Tis the season to be grateful. There are lots of things to be thankful for; however, we can often get busy (especially during this time of the year) and become consumed with all that we have to get done before the end of the year.

Here are ten ways to help re-direct your team (and even yourself) to think about others during the holidays and get the focus off of everything you have to do. These activities will not only help your team to grow closer, but also steer the focus to others.

1. Gather shoes for children.

In our community, there is a local shoe closet that collects and distributes shoes for children who need them. We are not a large community, but you’d be surprised how many children have worn out and inappropriate shoes for school. Check to see if there is a shoe closet in your area and what sizes they need. Or, have your own shoe drive and work with your local school district to find out what would be helpful.

2. Collect donations for Christmas dinner boxes.

The college where I work gathered items to give out 100 Thanksgiving dinner sacks that our students could come by and pick up the week before Thanksgiving. The same idea could be used for Christmas. Get your teams together to donate items to make Christmas Dinner sacks or boxes for local families. Work with charities in your area to get the word out. Set a goal and see how many you can collect!

3. Begin a canned food drive.

Every community has a food bank and most of them need donations, especially around the holidays. Have your team start a canned food drive to help your local food bank stock up for the holidays (or re-stock after them.)

4. Donate coats and warm clothes.

Our local community has a couple of coat closets that gather coats to give to those in need during the winter months. (Yes, even in Texas it can get pretty chilly!) Determine how many coats you want to gather (make it a challenge for your team) and deliver the coats together. Take a tour of the coat closet and see what other things they might need or other ways you can volunteer.

5. Serve the homeless.

If you don’t want to collect anything to donate, have one of your teammates organize a day to go feed the homeless at a local shelter. Just about every community has one, and it definitely puts things in perspective. Seeing men, women, and even families with no place to go makes one grateful for all the blessings we truly have.

6. Volunteer at a local non-profit.

As a team, decide on a non-profit you would like to go help. Schedule a Saturday morning and go serve them together. Every non-profit loves volunteers and certainly needs help during this time of year. Want to up the challenge? Make it a goal to serve together once a month or once a quarter as a group. See how your team and teammates grow during the process!

7. Support an Angel.

Every year, the Salvation Army has a program called Angel Tree, where people can get a name from one of the Angel Trees set up in the community and buy a small box of new clothes or toys for needy children. Volunteer to be one of the hosts of a tree or get together with your team and determine a number of families you want to help over the holidays.

8. Participate in a Rice and Bean supper.

Do some searching to see if there is a rice and bean supper in your area during the holidays. The purpose of these is to:

  1. Raise money for local charities.
  2. Raise awareness for poverty.

It’s eye opening when you see how little people live on both in our country and across the globe. The statistics are alarming. Most of the world lives on less than $2-3/day. Yet, we often complain about how little we have. Take your team to one of these dinners and do some debriefing afterwards and talk about thankfulness, giving, and how your organization¬†can help make a difference in your community.

9. Sign up for a poverty workshop.

Our community has hosted several poverty workshops. There are a few organizations who run these and their presentations and information is very eye-opening. The good ones not only talk about poverty but also ways that people in the community can begin to help turn things around.

Work with a local school district or church to schedule a time to bring someone in to lead one of these trainings. (We’ve worked with Donna Beegle before and participated in her poverty institute.)

10. _(Insert your idea here.)_

The last idea is to brainstorm with your team and come up with your own idea. How can you help your community? What ideas do your team members have? What needs does your community have? How can you work together as a team to help those around you?

Some other ideas to get the ball rolling:

  • Help cultivate¬†a community garden.
  • Clean up with your city’s¬†parks and recreation department.
  • Build a house with Habitat for Humanity.
  • Volunteer for disaster relief with Red Cross.
  • Tutor kids with an after school program.
  • Mentor students at a local community college.

What idea did your team decide to move forward with? How did it go? Let me know in the comments below!

Leading Others to their A-Ha Moments

leading others to aha moments

I had the opportunity recently to work with a young man who needed some leadership development coaching. His boss had strongly encouraged (read required, actually – ahem) him to go to three sessions and then any sessions after that were voluntary if he wanted to continue. We ended up meeting for seven or so sessions and during those sessions discovered a lot about who he was and the leader that he was growing into.

During the coaching process, he had several “a-ha” moments. You could see on his face when those would happen and he would say, “I never really thought about it like that before.”

For a coach, those are some of the best moments. You know your client is “getting it”. They are tracking with you and are thinking differently. That’s when change can start to happen. Something clicks within your client and they begin to make progress.

For some clients, it happens very quickly. For others, like this young man I worked with, it happened towards the end of our time together. The other sessions were helpful and useful; however, we had one session where it seemed like everything was firing on all cylinders and we were having one breakthrough after another.

As I reflected on some of my best coaching sessions (and this one), I thought about the why. Why did that session go so well and others haven’t? What made that session so special?

Here are a few ideas that I came up with that hopefully will help you as you coach teams and others into their “a-ha moments”

1. Capitalize on Your Strengths

If you are going to coach someone, you need to use your strengths to their advantage. Some coaches like to coach over the phone. Some like to coach in person. I like to coach in person. I’m a very visual person, so I like to both see who I’m coaching and also write things down for both of us to see. I like whiteboards.

During this session, I used the whiteboard extensively to help my client make connections (I’ll talk about more in a minute) with his past employment and his future career goals. In writing things down, he was able to make connections that he hadn’t seen before in how his whole path was essentially leading him to where he wanted to go.

Learn to use your strengths as a coach to have even more impact with your coaching clients.

2. Create Connections

I’m a visual person (one of my strengths) and love to use whiteboards to draw and write. I’m a strong believer in writing things down (whether it’s goals or brainstorming, etc.). It’s easier to see connections when you have something written in front of you.

As I was meeting with my client, I wrote some things on a white board based on a question I had asked (about his former employment). We wrote those things down and then continued to identify different characteristics of jobs that he had held up until his present one.

As we were going through this process, you could see the light bulb turn on as we connected the dots and discovered that every job he had held had prepared him not only for the job he was currently at, but also for the career path that he was heading down.

Leading clients to discovering connections for themselves will help to create more breakthrough moments in their coaching experience. 

3. Confidently Trust Your Intuition

Whether it’s what question to ask next, what homework assignment to give, or what activity to do¬†next, coaching is a lesson in flexibility and judgment calls. Coaches need to be able to trust their intuition in order to move clients forward.

Often there’s this gut feeling that says “go this way,” “ask this question,” or “do this activity next.” There are times when it seems like the activity may not fit or the question seems a bit off; however, the times I have followed my gut have been far more effective than trying to force an activity that I had planned or trying to follow a rigid structure.

Learn to listen to that little voice when you coach others, and you will quickly become a stellar coach.

4.Cut the Crap (aka, Shut Up and Listen)

When you’re first starting off coaching, this one can be quite difficult. It was for me. At times, I still struggle with it. There’s a difference between consulting and coaching. Consultants give advice and tell people how they think certain tasks and goals should be done.

Coaches, on the other hand, lead people into solutions by asking powerful questions. The client should do most of the talking. I’ve heard that if you as a coach are talking more than half of the time, then you are talking too much. I would encourage you to talk as little as possible. (Depending on the client, this can be very challenging.)

Ask powerful questions and be quiet. Listen to what your client has to say. Don’t be afraid of silent¬†space during the coaching process.

These four strategies are not the end-all be-all to coaching, but they have helped me lead others to their a-ha moments whether as part of a team or individual coaching.

What other strategies have you used to help lead people to “a-ha moments”? Which strategy do you tend to employ the most? Let me know in the comments below.

8 Ways to Insert Adventure Into Your Day

ways to insert adventure

Most of the time, we tend to fall into our routines and stay there. If you’re like me, though, routine tends to get boring rather quickly. I try to find ways to get out of my normal schedule¬†and make my life and work more interesting. I want to be intentional about my life and, instead of letting it¬†just happen, strive¬†to have fun and create adventure in everyday situations.

Here are some ideas that you can use to input a little adventure into your life and work. Consider something¬†about the definition of adventure. It doesn’t have to be some wild, cliff-hanging excursion in order to qualify as adventure. Pushing past your comfort zone, even a little, qualifies as going on an adventure.

1. Watch the sunrise (or sunset)

This will take a little planning, but definitely worth it. Why would this be considered an adventure or getting outside of your comfort zone? Most leaders tend to go, go, go and not take time to be still and rest. Even for a few minutes, being quiet and still can help us gain a new perspective on life and work and what is really important.

2. Take one more step

I’ve been a part of leadership trainings, and one of them had a saying, “Go as far as you can and take one more step.” At the time, we were going up a climbing wall, but it was really a metaphor for life. How can you take one more step…

  • With a current project you’re working on?
  • In your leadership?
  • With your kids?
  • In a relationship that’s strained?
  • With the book you want to write?
  • In the conflict you need to resolve?

Even as leaders we have a tendency to stop when we bump up against resistance, especially in the form of our comfort zone. When you hit a wall, resolve to go that extra step (you will probably find it will get you past a sticking point.)

3. Connect with an old friend

It’s often humbling to pick up the phone and contact someone you haven’t visited with in months or years. It amazes me with certain friends how it feels like we can pick up where we left off and it almost seems like it hasn’t really been that long. Just imagine the adventures that you can relive with this friend, or new ones you can share!

4. Read a book

Books can take us on all kinds of adventures Рto far away places, introducing us to interesting characters, and teaching us things that we would not otherwise know or experience. Whether the book is fiction or non-fiction, we can have numerous adventures and learn fascinating things by reading. If you want more of an adventure, try reading a genre that is unfamiliar to you.

5. Volunteer

Serving others is always a great adventure. Whether it’s volunteering with a homeless shelter or the local food bank, you are sure to have a wonderful adventure helping someone else. This is definitely something that you can do as a team.

How could you implement this at your work as a team building activity?

6. Take a class/workshop

Have you always wanted to learn something but haven’t found the time? Why not start a class or go to a workshop? There are so many ways to do this now.

Take an online class through Udemy.

Explore what your local community college offers.

Audit a class from a 4-year university.

Check your local paper or visit with local organizations to see what classes and workshops that are being taught that you are interested in. During the class you could also complete #8 below! ūüôā

7. Create something from scratch

The creative process will push most people past their comfort zone – some very quickly. Whether it’s a blog post, a piece of artwork, a fence, or something else, try building something from the ground floor. Maybe you’ve wanted to implement a new program or training with your team but aren’t sure where to start.

Go ahead and take the first few steps and see how far you get. You might be surprised at how much easier it is to start than you first thought.

8. Visit with a stranger

I don’t always think about talking to strangers as an adventure; however, I was on a personal retreat a number of years ago and met a homeless man named Cash (let the irony of that sink in for a moment!) I bought him a meal and we were able to visit for a few minutes. I thought I was blessing him by the food I had to offer. He blessed me more by our conversation and the challenge that he (unbeknownst to him) left to me.

Take time to day to invest in someone for just a few minutes. You might make a new friend or you may not see this person ever again. The reward is in the conversation and in stepping out. You never know how you will be challenged or blessed by a brief conversation with someone you don’t know.

 

It’s typically the simply, daily adventures that bring me the most joy and the biggest challenges. It requires me to move past my comfort zone and constantly be growing and learning as a leader. And, it is often these micro-adventures that are accompanied by the greatest blessings. They¬†cause me to pay attention to the simple and most important things in my life.

What other micro-adventure could you participate in today? Leave a comment below or Tweet it using #leadbyadventure. I’d love to see what you come up with!

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