IMG_7440

Facing My Worst Fear

It is said that more people are afraid of public speaking than dying. Probably because you only die once. But public speaking is something you must face any time you are in public. More accurately, it is not the “public” that drives you nuts, it is the private time you spend with your little voice — those minutes, hours or months prior to ‘public’ speaking. It can be terrifying or flat-out life limiting. It was for me.

In my five and a half years of college, I knew I would have to face speech class. It was a requirement for my degree. When I learned this, all hell broke loose in my mind and I began the art of denial-avoidance. I avoided signing up for speech class for the first, second, third, and fourth years of college. I met with an adviser to review my needs for graduation and she pointed out the missing class just prior to my final year. I was at a crossroads. I went back to my apartment and tried to figure out how I could possibly get around this and I thought, “perhaps graduation is not actually that important.” But I had too many years already invested, and decided that IF I were to take speech, I would take it during summer school, 400 miles away from the college I attended to be sure that I would not know a soul.

And so I went — with pounding heart. The first speech in class was to describe something…anything. I spent hours practicing, trying to memorize what I was going to say. And I did. All five minutes of it. It was my turn and my throat felt like I was being choked and I was on the verge of a heart attack. After starting, my lack of presence created a gap of consciousness where I forgot all memorization. I stood there for what felt like thirty minutes of being naked with nothing to say. But I stayed standing and I was somehow still alive.

So I started talking in this out-of-body moment and then began to re-enter my body as I heard myself saying things that actually made some sense. I did not know quite where it was coming from and I felt as if I was listening to myself. I kept at it and realized I wasn’t dying and that people weren’t laughing at my nakedness. By the time I finished my five minutes, I felt like I had recovered at least a loincloth. I got an “A” on that presentation and it was the last time I relied on a script or memorization. A lot happened for me during that class, but I NEVER overcame any fear. I can’t say that it got one bit easier. But I realized that even as ridiculously nervous as I was, it was possible to be nervous and good at the same time.

Don’t let ‘em see you sweat

If you are old enough, you might remember a commercial by Ban Extra Dry antiperspirant, which said with an imposing voice: “NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, DON’T LET ‘EM SEE YOU SWEAT.” This slogan fits beautifully into the cultural illusion that not sweating is the key to success. But going outside the comfort zone, risking anything, riding a bike for the first time, investing, confronting a work situation or person, being honest, or giving a public speech requires a venture into the territory of sweat. Our bodies are designed to respond to this territory with increased heartbeat, quicker breathing and of course the lovely secretion of sweat in our armpits.

So what does this powerful advertisement-command mean? One: Do not go outside of your comfort zone. Or, two: if you do, don’t let ‘em see you sweat. It is an easy cultural myth that proclaims that nervousness is a sign of weakness.

Much of my job today involves being on stage, presenting team and leadership development programs to high-level executives. Most of them come in with a cynical eye waiting to validate their doubts that the program is relevant or worth their time. So I take another deliberate step outside of my comfort zone. I know the sweaty armpits are a natural part of the process but I hear that Ban Extra Dry mantra screaming in my ears, and as I try to stop sweating it creates more sweat and what feels like the Nile River pours down my sides. Ban’s slogan was brilliant. They were creating the sweat they wanted people to try to cover up with their deodorant.

When I realized this, I decided to test the hypothesis by doing the exact opposite of their slogan, the opposite of this macho illusion of NO FEAR. If the pressure to not let them see me sweat created more sweat, then why not let them see me sweat and see if I produced less sweat? Because this theory applied to successful risk-taking, creating a supportive team, and producing results, I used this theory with the audience. I would get to the point of telling them that I was all-in, sweaty-armpits-and-all, to bring them my best. Then I’d raise both hands up revealing my sweaty, wet, armpits. Most of the crowd was shocked, some got dumb chills for me, others applauded the authentic possibility of it actually working. But for me, it would be THE moment the sweating would begin to stop. My shirt would dry out and I had the audience because in that moment I had myself.

Fight or Flight

What you resist persists. Antiresistance is 100 times more effective than antiperspirant.

The worst nervousness NOW comes when I am not nervous. There have been a few programs I have delivered where I was not nervous and I can tell you that they were emphatically not my best. My best seems to come from that feeling that feels like nervousness. Or, when there is a lot at stake. Like when a client flies me to Timbuktu and spends a fortune to have all of their people in one room, giving up so many other things at the possibility that I might bring them something more valuable than all the other things they could be doing. Nerves are our primordial fight of flight mechanism, and if you don’t flee – run off stage – then you’ll fight for the best result you can produce. The audience loves that.

The illusion is that it requires a fight or flight response to survive but it is not your life that is at stake; it’s your ego. All you need to do is separate the two and you quickly realize that it requires no fight at all. The easiest way through for you is the hardest way out for your ego. I am still not a master of this but I can say for certain that my very best results in speaking to large groups all over the world and several benchmark moments in Odyssey success have come at those times of surrendering to the absolute truth of the moment. Nothing to hide. Sweat or no sweat.

- Bill John

 

Out-of-Office

Rejuvenation

Updates from your favorite Leadership, CSR, Teambuilding company that offers Life Cycles (Build-a-Bike), Helping Hands (Build-a-Hand), Playhouse Challenge and so much more.

I read in a recent study that the average employee at a USA based firm leaves 5.5 unused vacation and/or PTO days per year. Not me.

I was able to get a holiday this summer; complete with family and tropical breezes and such. Before going, I updated my email auto-response to stating I was going to be ‘unplugged,’ and that if support was needed, to contact a fellow colleague. I did similarly with my phone. The results were terrific. I did not turn on my computer for a week and my phone was set on airplane mode for the duration.

 

The results in short:

– extended family, work, and life in general continued on just fine without me (much to my ego’s chagrin)

– no pavlov dog responses to things dinging or vibrating

– more time to read, converse, reflect, and connect with where I was and who I was with in the moment

– more time to play. That youthful gift of playfulness. Well beyond exercise, games, competing etc. Just PLAY!:)

– upon return I had more energy and a fresh perspective.

 

We hear it again and again from participants and client partners that Odyssey’s programs provide similar results to the above (and other benefits too).

Now that it’s October, I could use some more rejuvenation. Maybe your team could too!

-Todd Demorest

OT-ProgramTile-Lifestyle4-541x541-500x500

Bikes, Tires, and Metaphors

Life Cycles, the original bike building build-a-bike program, allows participants to create something valuable and pass it on to the end user. As they build a bike and pass it along to a child, the result is a firsthand experience of the value of collaboration, customer-centricity, and teamwork. Metaphors like these are rich and relevant to teams and leaders. However, there are less obvious metaphors that also emerge during the course of the program:

Tires need air. Everyone knows how to use a bicycle pump, right? Simple. You secure the nozzle over the tire valve and inflate. But in the past twenty years, the way to secure the pump to the valve has done a complete 180-degree change.

It is amazing to see people IGNORE the detailed description and pictures of HOW TO USE THE TIRE PUMP. The result is frustration, rework, and often a broken piece of equipment. Not good if you are building bikes for kids. Not good if you are aiming to build your team and be a world-class business.

For me, breaking the tube for a child’s bike was a lesson in humility. I learned that the next time – even if I think “I KNOW” – I must be humble enough (and not so much in a hurry) to pause and check to see if the ‘game’ has changed.

As fast as the world and business are changing, can you afford not to pause, confirm what is truly needed, and THEN act? So in business, when building a bike…bikes for kids…at least look at the pictures carefully.

Untitled

The Human Herd

With ever increasing access to technology, we have become more and more independent, especially in the way that we work. We are no longer required to punch in and out of a brick and mortar building in order to collaborate with co-workers. Gone are the days of productivity occurring behind a desk alone. Email, cloud based databases, and a multitude of other telecommunication systems have redefined workspace. As barriers and confines continue to disappear, a mobile and independent workforce emerges. Connected to laptops and mobile phones, we are no longer restrained by physical meeting space, and can operate efficiently without dependence on regular contact with others. And we’re better for it. Or are we?

At Odyssey, we are constantly asked about the value of an “all hands meeting” when the business information could just as easily be shared remotely. Likewise, we regularly field the question of whether including a “team building” element in the schedule is important when the impact of team building is impossible to measure. The answer is clear to us – the “information” is important, but it is not the most significant part of the face-to-face meeting. However, bean counters and executives cram three-day meetings with a surplus of informational presentations and ceaseless PowerPoints. Meanwhile, participants send text messages, catch-up on email, post to Facebook, and even pass notes to each other to pass the time. They suffer the meeting and hold out for the evening entertainment like a kid in church who has been promised a doughnut after the service.

Taking the time and money to put people in a room together feeds a part of us that cannot be rationalized by simply looking at costs and efficiency charts. It requires a closer look into the sociology of the human being. The evidence leads to the conclusion that the most important reason to put people in a room together is to connect them as a team and as people, and create a positive emotional memory of the company, team, or leadership. It might not be cost or time efficient, because frankly, relationships are never going to be efficient. But it is immeasurably valuable. The power of Facebook is built on our need to connect, or at least have the feeling of connection, but it will never completely satisfy us.

We can watch any movie we want in the comfort of our own home with blue ray, surround sound, and all the snacks we could want. Yet, while on a business trip in Boston a few weeks ago, I went on an evening stroll and came upon close to 3,000 people watching The Lego Movie in the park. Sitting on the ground, not on a couch, and with less than top of the line video and sound quality. We have a need to be a part of a community, and a deep desire for connection that requires old fashion human contact. No matter how well Skype, FaceTime, GoToMeeting and other technology solutions are able to connect us remotely, we will only be at our very best when our mind, heart and gut feel connected and engaged to the community, and we are reminded that we are a valuable part of it all.

– Lain Hensley

No Really.

Earlier in my career I spent 5 years consulting with one of the fastest most successful credit card companies in our country. Growth was staggering. They went from 1,800 employees to 20,000 in just over 5 years. Their stock had the same type of growth. Even though all this was going on there was and continues to be a large amount of suffering in their corporate structure. They are not alone.

One of the best leadership, managerial, employee tools to pull out of the toolbox is the ability (and we believe necessity) to say ‘no’. To decline is a powerful move that is often over looked while trying to navigate through a given day or to the next level. What we’ve found is that more often than not people create much of the stress and pressure they are living/working with each day. They do this by saying ‘yes’, ‘sure I can’, ‘I’d be happy to’, ‘you bet, ‘no problem’, and many other forms of…. YES – I will do it just as you asked and in the time you asked…and maybe hint or promise to have it done earlier.

Too often the YES is given out of fear. You see everyone around saying yes. If you’re the first/only one to say no then your job could be in jeopardy, you could lose the promotion, or be thought less than by the person making the request etc. etc. So you say YES and your 45-hour workweek turns to 60 and the stress/pressure shows up in areas only you may know.

If it was safe enough… you’d say No, Decline, Make a Counter Offer, Negotiate etc. but it’s not deemed safe enough by you and you say YES. While consulting with the credit card company I kept lobbying for the CEO to say “Ok everyone, starting on Monday you are all requested to say ‘no’ to at least one request each day. If not, it will be noted on your performance review.” Their business culture, quality, trust level, mood, and results would improve immensely. So would yours.

Too often when we say YES and then don’t fulfill on the promise, one or more of the following happen.
1. The work is done on time but not to the standards of the company – result = rework, injury, etc.
2. The work isn’t done by the time you promised (because you were in overwhelm from all of the other ‘YES’s” you agreed to) – result= you’re deemed unreliable, trust is lowered
3. The work is done to satisfaction – result= resentment from you towards the other person for them making such an ‘uninformed request’-don’t they know what your world is like?
4. The work is done to satisfaction – result= your mood, health, wellbeing is at risk, again.
5. You have perpetuated and ingrained saying ‘yes’ in your culture.
To say No, Decline, Make a Counter Offer, or Negotiate can be viewed as powerful.
• It shows that you are considering your other commitments to the company in your decision.
• It may highlight your commitment to safety and quality.
• Internal/external customers will be grateful that you are fulfilling your current promises to them.
• It will model for others a more accountable way of operating in the workplace.

Say yes to possibilities, opportunities, etc…and step outside your comfort zone and say ‘no’ …when you know you should.

Todd Demorest,
Lead Trainer, Odyssey Teams, Inc.

kohala coast

Pop your ears lately?

We lived down on the beach – sea level. The closest town (Waimea – of Parker Ranch fame) was a 15-20 minute drive up the slopes of the Kohala mountains at 2,500 feet above sea level. My wife, family, and I made this drive frequently. One morning as I was driving up the hill with the sun rising over Mauna Kea for a meeting with leaders from the community, I noticed the need to pop/clear my ears. This was not new, though this time I realized something…I shouldn’t be popping my ears. Why? Because I’m not supposed to be ascending the hill so fast. I’m supposed to be walking, or maybe on a horse or mule at best. Going up the hill more SLOWLY. That is how my body (this gift) was designed to go up hills. At a pace that is gradual enough that my body can adapt to the pressure changes in a smooth efficient manner.

Where else am I moving/ascending unnaturally too fast that it is causing enough stress that I have to intervene? How do I intervene and deal with the stress? Sure, I can do it, survive, crunch down and ‘Git ‘er done’ and maybe instead of popping my ears I…
• Take ibprofen everyday for my 1pm headache
• See a chiropractor 3 times a week
• Wear a tooth guard at night
• Take something to help me sleep
• Get edgy towards my internal/external customers and/or the people I say I care most about.
• or… you fill in the blank

Regardless, I have to do something to cope with the velocity and capacity that I am attempting to deal with. Some choices…
1. Reduce the speed – Speed kills.
2. Reduce the capacity- I don’t have to/ nor can I do it all.
3. Pause for 30 seconds, take a breath, notice my shoulders are raised to my ears or that my jaw is tense or that I’m excessively gripping the steering wheel, etc. etc. and then release the noticeable tension with an exhale.

Grammy award winner James Taylor says…
“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time. Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it….”

Slow down. Pause. You and the people you live and work with are worth it.

PS… Step #3 above works best. Do it first, at least 3 times a day.

Todd Demorest,
Lead Trainer, Odyssey Teams, Inc.

IMG--114

Q + A with Lain Hensley – Part III

How do you advocate for one of these types of programs where we’re receiving feedback from attendees that they are already over-programmed during the meeting, and that what they would really like is free time?

They want free time because they do not see the value of the team building session over the other sessions. We need to do an amazing job of aligning our program with the entire meeting so that it does not feel like a disconnected session that is unrelated to business. It should feel like an interactive session that complements the existing message and builds on the overall dialogue. I do not believe that the solution is to cut the “team building” or “connection time” from the meeting.

NOTE – I am currently conducting a survey to determine the top 10 desired outcomes from company meetings. My assumption lines up with the early data, which shows that people attend meetings with the goals of connecting with co-workers, getting a personal sense of the leadership, and developing their network. Most of the presenters talking about financial stuff, company strategy, future products, and other nuts and bolts items, end up just reading from their PowerPoint. These elements can be delivered in an informational email or webinar previous to the face-to-face time. The biggest value of the face-to-face meetings is not the sharing of data and details, but making an emotional connection to the data and one another.

-Lain Hensley

Q + A with Lain Henlsey – Part II

We have a few meetings weekly, and so far none are really productive, resulting in a huge emotional response from several folks. How can we change the emotional memory so that these meetings become productive?

Research has shown that physiology is critical to our state of mind and that the complexity of the human condition requires us to address the physical self in addition to the mental state. Some suggestions and things to try — these are very simple and they will work. I have seen this work for 23 years EVERY TIME.

> Do not let people sit in the same seat for each meeting or for more than 30 minutes at one meeting.  They become territorial of their seat and their ideas. Standing is preferred when brainstorming or when you would like to have open dialogue.  Be sure ALL seats feel like they are just as important as the next, and that each person can see and be heard.  If you are going to allow sitting, then every 15 minutes have people move to a new seat. I am not joking… this will work, and they will smile, move, engage, and feel better without you even trying. They might resist this the first time, but then they will begin to prepare for the switch and move past the resistance.

> Never promise to have the meeting over in “X” amount of time so that we can all get back to work. WHAT?! I have seen so many meetings start this way. Start each meeting with a STAND. Make a strong stand for what you expect the value from the meeting will be and why you need them engaged.  Example: “Thanks for being here team. I am thrilled we have this time together and hope we have enough time to fully understand the value of this presentation to our success. We will be going over the financial today and you all know how important this information is to our ability to project the next business move and make our life easier. I value each of your input and perspective and I invited you to be here because I am convinced we can grow our business if each of us fully understand this data.” You get the idea.  Make it sound good to be at the meeting and make a big promise and then deliver. If the leader is not passionate about the meeting then the team will follow.

> Listen very carefully to the “Beliefs of your team.”  When you hear a negative belief, you need to identify the belief in a non-threatening way and then go to work to change it.  Example: I am… People are… Life is… This meeting is…  This team is…  My boss is… This project is… and so on. Beliefs influence focus, and that creates reality for people. If people say, “My boss is great,” then they will see things that support that belief.  If I love the rain, then when I hear it raining in the morning, I am already happy and my mood is up. If people believe this meeting is a waste of time, then they will be very slow to see anything else.

> The huge emotional response is actually a good thing. Change your belief about it. They have emotion because they still care and they want it to be better. If you get to a point that you no longer see emotion, then people are becoming apathetic and they will not work to improve the situation.

-Lain Hensley

Philanthropic Team Building: Good for Your Head, Hands, and Heart

There is a new paradigm in the concept of Team Building, and it’s called Philanthropic Team Building. In days gone by, it was sufficient to be selfish, even decadent, about getting to know each other outside the work setting. When it was done well, it involved heads and hands in experiential exercises and simulations. Now it’s about incorporating the heart through give back events or Philanthropic Team Building. The response from participants has been overwhelmingly positive – all over the world.

Events like Life Cycles, the original Build a Bike workshop (Odyssey Teams has built and donated over 13,000 bikes alone), Helping Hands, the building of prosthetic hands for amputees in developing countries (over 17,000 delivered to 75 countries), and The Playhouse Challenge have revolutionized the Team Building industry. And it’s good for more than just your team. It’s good for your heads, hands, and hearts. And that means it’s good for the world.

>Bill John

Q + A with Lain Hensley

How does Odyssey incorporate meaningful activities prior to the build in particular? I struggle with people just wanting to build a bike for hours and then are underwhelmed by donation numbers.

Do not let them know anything about the building element going into the event. The philanthropic impact should be a surprise and the cherry on top. If the session is only seen as a CSR give back program, then the focus is on giving, and they will measure the value based on how much they gave. That seems normal to me. If the session is focused on learning outcomes and value to the participants, then they will be looking for the value to themselves and their team. The value that is given to the greater community is only a wonderful addition to an already valuable training session.

We start with the intellectual part of the session, incorporating simple activities or interactions simply to build on the concepts. The focus is not on activity. The activities build in complexity, and the concepts also build.  We make EVERY action have a purpose to help the participants see how the entire program is connected and relevant to their everyday life. The culmination with a CSR element or climactic activity should be when the participants are fully engaged in the learning and understand the connections between the two.  They should be seeing the learnings for themselves, and need very little spoon-feeding of the lessons at this point.

-Lain Hensley

It's Powerful Stuff.


WHEN PEOPLE FEEL LIKE ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.